She stared at the man with tears in his eyes. He approached her slowly.
“Genna?” He asked in a whisper. She nodded. He took her hands. “Do you know who I am?”
She looked into the man’s familiar face. Of course, she knew who he was. They had spent over two decades together. He was Neil, the love of Genna's life.
~ ~ ~
“Aren’t you going to wear the earrings?” Neil asked gently. He was getting dressed to play a round of golf with his buddies. A radio blasted music in the background.
“Oh, right.” She put on a dangly pair of multicolored gemstone earrings.
“What time is Martha coming over?”
“Uh, she said ten.” Two months after she came home, Martha set up a day for them to catch up. She was thankful for some time away from Neil. She didn’t tell Neil this for fear of hurting his feelings. She hoped having a day with an old friend would make her feel better.
“Genna, are you really going to wear that?” Neil asked.
“What’s wrong with this dress?” She bought the teal dress especially for the occasion. She thought she looked great in it.
“Nothing. You used to not like the color teal.”
“Do you think I should change?” She second guessed her choice.
“Maybe. I mean, you said so yourself, Genna. The color doesn’t suit you.” She rifled through the closet. She pulled out an orange dress.
“Oh, that one's nice! I remember you used to wear that dress any chance you could. It was your favorite.” Neil approved of the choice.
“Did Martha like this dress too?” She put the dress to her body and looked at the mirror. She wasn’t a fan of orange.
“Yeah, I guess. Remember you wore that dress to Martha’s mom’s second wedding?” She put the orange dress on. The dress and the earrings weren't things she would normally choose for herself, but if Neil said this was what Genna used to wear, she should get used to wearing them too.
“This song!” Neil exclaimed. It was a love song she knew meant a lot to Neil and Genna’s relationship. She had heard it plenty of times and she would never admit it to Neil, but she thought the song was bad.
“Do you remember this song?” Neil grabbed Genna and they danced.
“How could I not? It was the first song we danced to at our wedding.”
“You remember,” Neil smiled.
“I’m sorry!” She accidentally stomped on Neil’s feet.
“That’s okay,” Neil waved off Genna's apology. “You used to be a better dancer. We’ll work on that.” The song ended and it was time for Neil to leave. They headed toward the front door.
“I’m a bit nervous about seeing Martha,” she admitted.
“Just be yourself.” Neil gave Genna a kiss on the cheek before he left.
“Martha! Come in!” She stepped aside to let her friend in.
“Genna.” Martha hesitated before giving Genna a hug. “It’s, uh, nice to see you again.” When Martha let Genna go, she led the way to the living room. She handed Martha a cocktail.
“Thanks,” Martha said. They took their seats on the couch and sipped their drinks. Unfortunately, the reunion with Martha wasn’t turning out as she hoped. She remembered how easy it was to talk to Martha. Martha and Genna spent hours talking about anything and everything. Now though, they were barely able to make small talk.
“It’s strange, isn’t it?” Martha set down her drink.
“What’s strange?” She asked.
“You’re Genna." Martha scooted closer to Genna on the couch and studied her face.
“And you’re Martha.”
“You’re almost exactly like her in every way. The way you look, talk, walk, gesticulate. You probably have the same memories she did.”
“I do. Because they’re mine.”
“Sure. But only because they were once hers.”
“What are you saying, Martha? I am Genna. I don’t appreciate you implying otherwise.” She felt a rage building up inside her.
“We can reminisce about the good old days. We can talk about school, boys we had crushes on, and horrible bosses we had. But it’s not the same, Genna, because you weren’t there. She was. You’re…” Martha couldn’t finish her sentence.
“I’m what?” She dared Martha to say it out loud.
“When Neil told me what he planned on doing, I was excited. I get to see my best friend again. But seeing you in person... I guess for me, something is off."
“I don’t understand.”
“It was a bit uncanny when I first saw you, because I remember her funeral. I remember staring down at you in that coffin. Yet here we are, having another girls' day.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” She asked.
“There are some things you can’t clone, Genna.” Martha wasn't looking at her anymore.
“Some people don’t get a second chance to experience life with their loved ones. You and Neil are lucky." She pointed out.
“Maybe there are some things you don’t want to be lucky in.”
They didn’t know what else to talk about. Martha left soon after.
“How was your girls’ day, Genna?” Neil came home and kissed Genna's cheek. She was in the kitchen preparing dinner.
“Martha said something a bit strange to me today.” She chopped some carrots for the soup.
“What did Martha say to you?” Neil asked.
“Martha said although I looked and had the same memories as the Genna she knew, I wasn’t her,” she said.
“Martha’s really going off her rocker, isn’t she? Of course, you’re Genna. I made sure of it.”
“What does that mean, Neil?” She stopped chopping and looked at him.
“You’re the same Genna I fell in love with and who has been friends with Martha forever.” Neil wrapped his arms around Genna. “Don’t let her insecurities get you down.”
“I want to try skiing,” she said.
“Skiing? But you hate it.” Neil let Genna go.
“I want to try again. I think it could be fun.”
“You had a horrible time the last time we went skiing four years ago. You said never again, remember?” It was the last straw for her.
“Why do you always do this?” She blurted out.
“I tell you I want to try something. You tell me whether Genna already tried or did those things. Or that I like something, and you tell me that Genna doesn’t.”
“I know you, Genna. I only wanted to make things like they were before.”
“I've tried to adjust. I've tried to be like her. But I'm suffocating.”
“Genna, you’re being silly.”
“You’re molding me to be someone I’m not. You're stopping me from being me, Neil.”
“Genna, I’m not…”
“These earrings! They’re so not my style.” She took off the earrings and threw them on the ground. “I only wear them because you said they were her favorite.”
“They are, Genna!”
“They’re tacky.” She folded her arms in front of her chest.
“Fine, don’t wear the earrings!”
“You made me change out of the teal dress.”
“I didn’t make you do that! I merely stated that Genna used to not like the color teal. She had a good reason to as it wasn’t particularly flattering on her.”
“But I like teal. I think it’s flattering on me.”
“Wear the damn dress! I don’t care! Genna, what’s going on with you?” Neil wanted to know.
“Then there are the daffodils.” She looked over to a vase of flowers on their kitchen table.
“What? You love daffodils!” Neil exclaimed.
“I like peonies better.”
“I can get you some tomorrow. Genna didn’t use to like them before. She thought they…”
“I hate how Martha made me feel today. More than that, I hate how you make me feel.”
“Genna, what are you talking about?”
“You are constantly comparing me to her, Neil. Maybe you didn’t mean it to be rude. But when Martha talked to me today, it became pretty clear. You guys don’t want me. You want her, the Genna you both knew.”
“You’re the Genna we know.” Neil stepped closer to her, but she stepped away from him.
“No. No I’m not,” she said. “I am not her in every way. I am sick of you trying to force me to be. I don’t want to live life through Genna! I want to experience everything for myself.”
“Genna, we can work this out.” Neil reached out his arm. “I promise, we can find some common ground.”
She looked at Neil. She knew Genna and Neil were able to compromise and come to an understanding. They had always resolved their problems. But she also knew how much Neil loved Genna.
“No. We can’t.” Before she could think too much, she grabbed the knife and swung.
~ ~ ~
She caught her reflection in the bathroom mirror and stared at the face staring back at her.
It was a face she recognized. She thought it had a name, but it didn’t fit. She smiled and the face in the mirror smiled back. She will find her own name.