Hey all! I’m trying something new again today. I’m going to respond to a daily prompt for blogs. Below is the URL to that prompt:
Doppelgänger Alert: You step into an acquaintance’s house for the first time, and discover that everything — from the furniture, to the books, to the art on the wall — isidentical to your home. What happens next?
So first, after I finally found the apartment building (for it was new to me), and I looked for the appropriate apartment (where I’m to meet my friends for a rare, actually-home-cooked dinner) on the doorbell board. I push the button next to the apartment number, and a buzz like a swarm of digital bees lets me in. As I approach the apartment door, I look around and notice the pocked green carpeting, the beige walls, and lights so old that they glow in a dingy yellow.
Upon arriving at the door, I knocked, and it opened to reveal an acquaintance who I met a few days ago (we had mutual friends). We make silent eye contact for a second before she grinned and said, “Thanks for coming. Why don’t you come on in?”
As she said this, she did not move aside from the doorway. I said,”Thank you… may I come in?” She released one hand from the doorframe to slide over a bit, and she watched me while I slunk through the doorway. I could feel her relentless eyes on me, but I had no reason to be nervous, so I slipped my shoes off while keeping my eyes on the floor. As I do, I noticed that she has the same wooden floors, the same fruit crate for shoes, and the same beige carpeting that furnish my own front door. We must have the same taste… I thought–though I may or may not be pleased to know that.
I looked back up at her boring into me still with her eyes. I snapped a little bit, because I barely know her: “Where is everyone else?”
Did her grin get a little wider? “They’re in the kitchen, eating.” She didn’t move a muscle, though. Queasiness started to enfold my stomach.
“Alright…great. After you?” I prodded. She hesitated for a second then turned abruptly toward the kitchen…which appeared to be in the same spot as the kitchen I have at my place. These apartments must have been built according to similar blueprints. Since I had a moment to prepare myself to join everyone else, I looked around the living room just inside the door.
A rushing noise drowned out the rest of my thoughts while highlighting just one: That’s just like mine. The painting of poppies above the black futon, the brown leather armchair and sandy papasan, the maroon-gold rug and coffee table with the same rhombus pattern…all there.
But…what? I walked closer to the furniture as deja vu overloads every neuron in my brain. The armchair even had the rips and scratches made in it from the dog of the previous owners. My jaw went slack.
Did I somehow walk back into my own apartment? How did everyone get in here? I looked back at the kitchen doorway, and I could see some of my friends enjoying themselves at the table. Maybe my roommate let them in. I skided over to the big window (designed just like mine) to check what was outside. Was it the same tree-lined street? No! The scene outside was miles away from the one that should be outside of my apartment. I turned back to the living room. Same side tables, same TV and stand, same bookshelf…with all of my books! I searched my head for possible explanations.
Meanwhile, the hostess snuck up behind me while I was at the window, so I jumped when she said, “Is everything alright?” I spun around to meet her, and noticed something I didn’t notice before: her dark blonde hair. Her blue eyes. Her clothes that also look like they were in my closet that morning. She was smirking again, with her head tilted a bit to the side in mock concern. “Everyone is waiting for you–they know you’re here.” Sure enough, I glanced over her shoulder towards the kitchen, and they were all looking expectantly at me. I peered back at the jade plant and mint leaves (in the same exact pots) that should be in my apartment.
“I’m not feeling well. I’ve got to go home.” In a couple steps, I made it back to the front door under their gazes, some of them protesting that I had just gotten there and hadn’t even joined them yet, and I slipped on my shoes without retying them. I took a last look around the doppelgänger apartment, but I saw that they were all starting to walk toward me. I murmured a rude little “‘Bye” and I slammed the door behind me. I stumbled down the stairs and strode out of the apartment to the bus stop to get me home. No one stopped me.
My chest felt like a hand of needles was pushing down on it as I waited, and waited, and waited forever. I looked back up at the window to that apartment…and I saw her. I saw the hostess staring down at me from three floors up. My friends were crowded around her. They were just watching, doing absolutely nothing but laying their eyes on me. I thought my heart would collapse.
The bus came and I made a point to be the first one in, making sure that I got a seat that was farthest from the apartment building. Everyone else took a few agonizing seconds to board. As the driver finally closed the door and pressed the gas pedal, I braved one more look up. They were watching me go. I cradled my head in my hands, my blood having gone cold.
The bus gets to my stop, and I hit the sidewalk running for my place. I bolt up the steps and through the green-beige-yellow hallway, and I fumble for my keys to unlock the door. The lock clicks. I take a deep breath, and I carefully turn the knob, peeking in. Everything is the same as when I left this morning. Everything is in the right place. The chairs, the rug, the tables, the books, everything. I venture a couple steps in, shutting the door behind me quietly. I wait, making sure this is real. Outside the window is the same street I always see when I come home, so a sigh of relief escapes me.
But then a door opens in the hallway, and footsteps approach from the hall. Dread freezes me up again and I cringe against the front door.
It’s only my roommate. I wilt, worn out from adrenaline. She asks, “I thought you were going to a party today?”
“I did. Did anyone new stop by here recently? Did they take anything? Did they ask anything about this place?”
“No, I don’t…think so. Why?”
“Did you have any new friends over?”
“Uh, no. No more than the usual. What, exactly, are you looking for here?”
“Did anything weird happen at all recently?”
“You mean, besides you taking pictures of the apartment after you forgot your keys?”
She looks at me like I didn’t know. “…Yeah. Last week, you had to ring the doorbell to be let in. You got up here and told me that you forgot your keys, but that you needed to do something quick.” She pauses to check for recognition, but nothing’s coming from me, so she continues. “You took…pictures. All over the place. When I asked about it, you told me not to mind you at all. After you got a picture of every corner of the place, you left.” She waits for me to confirm her story. I don’t. My mind has gone blank. “Why don’t you remember? Was that not you?”
I can do nothing but shake my head. As I did, I notice an envelope behind the TV. I lunge for it and rip it open. In graceful scrawl (the first thing that wasn’t just like mine), the note reads:
Thanks for the designs, dear. Your roommate made everything so much easier. Come see me again soon! We need to talk about your future.