This is entirely the fault of a blog post from butimbeautiful. I’m hiding it under the “more” command for the sake of your inbox.
Never Stand Still
In her heart she had always felt that a part of herself was missing. Opportunities always seemed to happen to somebody else, never her.
She wanted excitement and adventure, had even believed that adventure was her calling. There had been a brief promise of adventure once; all she’d have to have done was to take the hand offered to her and the world – perhaps even the universe – would have been her lobster.
She hadn’t taken that hand – her job and her family had been more important back then. She was also afraid of change, and that fear had been her downfall.
Here she was, aged forty-five, with her life at an apparent halt. The only changes in the last five years showed subtly; stronger glasses and a Rogue-like streak of silver in her ash-blonde hair. She was still in the same house, doing the same things day by day. Other than the loss of half her family, nothing was really very different. She was nothing more than an automaton, sitting around drinking tea and living vicariously through shows such as Star Trek, Primeval and Doctor Who.
She wondered though; what if there was another her in an alternate universe, who had taken the proffered hand? What if there was a her in this world that was off having fun without her? After all, it had happened in Mostly Harmless (which she’d bitterly regretted reading after the entire wonderful “Trilogy in four parts” which was The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) so could it actually happen in real life? Her grandmother had taught her that everything is possible, so why not? But if there was another one of her out there, which was real and which was the copy?
She sighed heavily as she rose to answer the doorbell, relieved to have been disturbed from her reverie but annoyed by the intrusion at the same time. If this was another door-to-door salesman she would give them short shrift and go back to her sewing.
Her voice died in her throat as she flung the door open with a “Not to-” and she took a sharp intake of breath as she fully took in the visage of the woman standing at the door.
Sapphire blue eyes with a naughty glint; a wide, ready smile that she used to see in the mirror every single morning before her life came to a full stop. Glossy blonde hair that sparkled and shone in the sunlight – or, at least, what you could see of it that wasn’t hidden underneath a black trilby. Knee high boots, bright and flirty clothes, an air of affability and confidence.
There was no doubt about it. She was looking at a Doppelganger of some kind. Either that or she’d fallen asleep over her sewing and was dreaming.
“Well,” said the Doppelganger amiably. “Aren’t you going to offer an old lady a cup of tea? You do still observe the Chinese tea ceremony don’t you? Yunnan Red please, in that lovely little dragon tea set”.
Old lady? This woman looked no more than thirty-eight.
As she made the tea, her look-alike examined the living room and smiled. She seemed excited to be in the house; in fact, she seemed a little too at home, as though she had visited before.
“Oh, but I have visited you before dear,” replied the look-alike to the unasked question. “Three years from now. It just hasn’t happened to you yet”.
Three years from now? Never mind the tea; she needed Absinthe to take this mad apparition away.
Quite contrary to the belief that she had either gone stark raving mad or was hallucinating, her Doppelganger was still in the living room when she brought in the tea, relaxing on the sofa as though she was in her own home.
The question had to be asked. She had heard rumours of a woman who her friends kept mistaking for herself, and some friends had even told her about pub lunches and shopping trips that she didn’t remember. The reason she didn’t remember was that those things hadn’t happened to her. The friends always apologised and told her that they must have dreamed it. Well, it made sense. After all, she herself constantly dreamed of fighting dinosaurs, saving Pompeii and being on spaceships – but none of those things had actually happened.
“Who… who are you please? You look like me, but you can’t… I don’t have a twin.”
The woman leaned forward and clasped her hand. She observed small palms and childlike, tiny wrists. Exactly like hers.
“Sweetheart, I’m you. Or, at least, I’m the you that you could have been. Don’t you remember that delightfully quirky little man in the fez who offered you his hand for a dance?”
“Of course I do! That was only six years ago! I thought he was sweet, but not for me. How… how can you possibly be me when I’m me? I don’t understand!”
The woman – her other self – smiled and let out a decidedly familiar schoolgirl giggle.
“We always wanted to be Jo Grant, didn’t we? Both of us. Standing against the world, having adventures.
“And what is six years to you has been thirty-six years for me. Thirty-six wonderful years of living that dream.”
“But that’s not possible! You look the same age as me!”
Her other self giggled again.
“I know, it’s quite extraordinary isn’t it? Years don’t matter when you’re travelling time and space, and the only reason I know my true age – which is eighty by the way – is that I always made sure to stop on Earth long enough to buy an Earth calendar and diary. Age is just a number lovey, and when you time travel your body doesn’t age.”
She floundered a little. Here she was, in her own house, drinking Chinese tea with her own self from the future, the past or another world, and hearing stories of all the things she had always dreamed of doing. Which of these selves were real? Was she going mad?
Her other self smiled and stroked her arm.
“I already know what you’re going to ask me. We’re both you. I’m just the you that took a gentleman’s hand when asked for a dance.
“In three years time, as I’ve already told you, I’ll be calling on you again. I’ll call on you because I shall want to retire at that point, live a normal life and – if the whole timey-wimey thing doesn’t prevent it – finally grow old. You will take my place.”
Her other self finished her tea and rose to her feet.
“I’ll be leaving you now. Thank you for the tea and remember – never stand still. Make the most of the next three years stuck by time and gravity; and for goodness’ sakes, do something about that Rogue streak – it really doesn’t become us!”
Watching her other self walk down the path and out of her life – for now – she felt a lightness of heart that she hadn’t felt in years.
Her moment of glory hadn’t ended with a dance refusal after all. It had simply been delayed.
© Gemma Wright, September 2012