The light of the stars and moon crept through my bedroom window like a search party. I got out of bed and glanced at the clock: 2 a.m. Geez. I went to the kitchen for a glass of water. This part of the house is nice and dark and cool. Maybe I should sleep here. I regretted not picking up the drapes at the store that has now been waiting for two weeks. Mental note: pick up drapes or continue with insomnia. I went back to my room and was only slightly annoyed at the boldness of such a beautiful sky. It is a gorgeous night, though. I looked out of the naked window and drank in the view.
The apartment's garden below seem to come alive as I watched. Lavender-colored balloon flowers were floating on a sea of dew. The scent of jasmine wafted into my now slightly opened window. Suddenly, I saw something that made the hair on my arms stand. A woman who looked just like me in a beige lace dress moved into the moonlight on the bench. She sat there and closed her eyes. She seemed a bit distressed. I couldn't believe how much she looked like me. I was shaken but too exhausted to put anymore thought into the matter. My doppelganger? In the same apartment building? I figured I was just hallucinating from my drink of water and lack of proper sleep. This is what Maslow was trying to warn us all about. Dismissing the scene, I went back to bed. Tomorrow: drapes. And ice cream. Without rum this time.
Morning came and I was grateful it was the weekend. I had time to do chores and get my drapes for the window. No more celestial intermissions between dreams. I was still a bit shaken from what I saw last night. The phone rang. "Lara, do you want to go out for dinner tonight?" asked Jessica, a colleague who always knew what I needed and when. "Yes. I'd love to," I replied. "Meet you at Francesca's at 8:00," she said. "Ok, I've got something to tell you!" Jess, I have a doppelganger in my new building and I'm totally freaked out. I made sure I wasn't late for our date.
I picked up the drapes but decided not to install them just yet. I was too curious and afraid of missing something. The rest of the day was spent in the garden, hoping I would see the woman from last night and put my imagination to rest. Maybe if I saw her in daylight, she would look nothing like me and I can invite her over for a cup of tea and tell her the story of how she appeared like a ghostly figure of myself under the moon. I laughed at the thought. Lara, stop being absurd. This apartment is not haunted by lookalike ghosts. How big is your ego anyway that the one time you think you see a ghost, it must, of course, look like you? I went back into my flat and got ready to go.
Jessica was early as usual. She had already ordered and was having a drink. "Hey. How's the new place coming along?" she asked. "Slowly," I said with a shrug. "I finally picked up the drapes today." It crossed my mind that Jess must have thought me the laziest person on the planet. I moved into my flat almost three weeks ago and boxes were still untouched in the living room. "Good things take time," I added. "Well, I knew you would love the place," she said. "The ambience is just right for a starving writer." I ordered my meal and was, indeed, starving. Most of my cookware were still in boxes so I was living off chips and microwave dinners. "Yes. You were right. I especially love how my room overlooks the garden," I said encouragingly. Jess found out about the place through a friend. I had just broken up with Christopher and was suddenly homeless. Luckily, Jess allowed me to stay awhile in her guest room.
"What is it that you wanted to tell me?" Jess asked. I thought about it and decided to not to bring it up. I was just tired and my mind was playing tricks on me. "Oh, nothing important," I tried to sound convincing. "Really?" she inquired. "I thought maybe you were getting back together with Chris," she said smiling. "What?" I chuckled. "Nope. Never do a dumb thing twice," I said aloud. After our scrumptious meal, we decided to grab a drink at an Irish pub. I wasn't tired yet and being out with a friend was exactly what I needed now. The pub was packed and people were dancing wherever they could find a spot. Jess and I headed for the bar where she saw the friend who told her about my flat. She wanted to introduce me. As we sat down, the bartender greeted us: "Hi Jess. I didn't know you and Karen were friends." Jess and I looked at each other confusingly. "Adam, this is Lara, my coworker," Jess corrected. "She's the one who moved into the flat."
He dropped his glass. "What?" he said squinting in utter confusion. "It can't be," he added.
"Um, I think I know I'm not Karen," I stated with a smile. "I'm Lara and it's nice to meet you, Adam." It took awhile for Adam to come back down to earth it seemed, as he tried working out what he just heard. "I apologize but you look exactly like Karen. She is also a tenant in your building," he said. I stood frozen. So maybe the apparition wasn't really one at all, but just a woman who looked strikingly like me. I told Adam and Jess about my doppelganger through the window last night. Adam was very quiet, as if he was still trying to comprehend two women who looked similar. Adam chimed in, "uncannily similar." Adam told us he spent time with Karen before and that the two of us are identical. Jess suggested we drop the subject for now and that I meet up with Karen. "Surely there is nothing so strange that can't be explained rationally," she said.
Later that night, I went to the window because I couldn't sleep. To my surprise, my doppelganger was once again sitting on the garden bench. I decided to end the mystery and put on my robe and went outside. I was a little afraid. After all, what will she think when she sees me? Slowly, I watched as she sat sort of contemplative. Well, of course she's thinking, silly. Why else would anyone come out in the middle of the night to sit alone in a garden? My robe caught on a bush and I got poked by a tree branch sticking out. "Ouch!" I cried. Karen quickly turned toward my direction and gasped. "What? Who are you?" she asked. As I moved closer into the light, we saw each other clearly. We both let out a gasp and were truly frightened. We were identical. She had the same almond-shaped eyes, her height, weight, and hair color were the same as mine. We stood staring at each other, afraid to blink. But the gaze was broken after Karen collapsed.
The next morning, I got dressed early and knocked on Karen's door. I knew now where she lived because the paramedics carried her to her room. She fainted and was in no danger. There were no underlying conditions. It was shock from seeing me. Karen slowly opened the door. "Hi," she said staring at me. "May I come in?" I whispered. She opened the door wider to let me in. I didn't know where to begin. We were still dumbfounded. I told her my name and that I just moved in. She listened carefully but didn't say anything. I saw a photograph of her with a man. "Are you married?" I asked. She looked at me and then downward with tears. "I'm a widow now," she said softly. "I'm sorry, Karen." We sat quietly for the longest time without speaking. "Karen, I'm going to get some answers," I promised. "I'll come back later, if you'll let me." She nodded.
"Lara!" mom cried as she let me in. She embraced me and I was thinking about how I was going to approach the subject. "Would you like some tea, dear?" I rejected the offer and told her we needed to talk. Mom looked worried after this and we sat down. The living room has always been the same, with family photographs hanging in almost every corner. "Mom, I need to tell you something," I said. "What is it dear?" she asked. "I met a woman in my new apartment building. Her name is Karen and she looks identical to me." Mom's face changed immediately. She looked both stunned and relieved. "Karen?" she whispered. "Yes. Do you know anything about this, mom?" Taking my hand in hers, she said, I've been waiting for the right time to tell you this. The problem is there was never a right time. Until now. Lara, you are adopted."
I looked at my mother as if for the first time. I was in complete shock. Adopted. "Why did you wait until now to tell me this?" She stared at the family photos gathered on the coffee table. "Your father and I did not know how to tell you. And it was only a few months ago when we discovered you had a twin. We saw Karen's photo in the newspaper because of her husband's obituary. He was a prolific writer in town. When we first saw her picture, we examined it for days. We pieced everything together and your father did some research. Karen is your identical twin. You were both separated at birth and put up for adoption." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was now questioning everything I thought I knew about myself and the parents I loved more than anything. "Mom, I have to go. I need time to absorb all of this." She caressed my face and said in her most loving voice, "please forgive me and your father for not telling you sooner."
After I got back to my flat, I took a long bath and felt exhausted. Adopted. Twin sister. What are the odds that I should move in to the same complex as my identical twin I never even knew existed? I got dressed and went to her apartment. She looked a little better. The color returned to her face and she seemed well rested. "Did you find out anything?" she asked softly. "Yes. You better sit down." I asked about her parents. She replied, "my father passed away from cancer when I was six, and my mother passed last year from a car accident. She and Rick, my husband, were everything to me. Rick died two months ago from colon cancer." I took her hand and felt sorry for how much she has lost in a short time.
For a moment, I wondered how life could be so full of twists and turns. I told Karen what my mother told me about the adoption. "I knew I was adopted," she said. "But I never knew I had a sister." We sat quietly together for a long time. Although I was still trying to absorb everything, I couldn't help but feel a tingle of happiness and peace deep down. Karen was lonely and her grief was profound. She thought there was no one left. We would never admit it, but we both knew that there must have been a powerful force that helped us find each other. My sister needed me. That night, the two of us walked down to the garden. We sat on the bench for hours until dawn, and watched as the Morning Glories slowly opened up.