Paul was an accomplished architect. He had designed much-admired, much praised buildings as museums and churches not only in his country. He also had a beautiful family with his wife Milena and their children Peter and Simona. And he did not lack a circle of interesting and inspiring friendships and acquaintances. At thirty-eight he could say to be a fulfilled even happy man. And yet there was ….SOMETHING that undermined his satisfaction, that prevented him from being happy. It would be better to say that there was someone. Ever since that time on the tennis court, he had glimpsed him.
The same broad forehead, the same high cheekbones, the same pronounced nose, and the same green eyes. Even the same smile, the same frown lines on his forehead. That stranger was the perfect copy of him.
Paul was a good-looking man, with good features, and an athletic, agile, and robust physique. Before marrying Milena he had had great success with women who were still attracted to him today and courted him. But since he had seen that guy identical to him he would have liked to be ugly and flat, and even old in order not to have a copy of himself. ( in order not to find himself mirrored in a copy of himself). He wished he wouldn’t think about it, or indeed him, and instead, he found himself thinking about it too often. To avoid meeting him at the tennis club he had changed the time for training. Then he started to meet him in the bar in front of his studio.
Paul hadn’t said anything about ….that disturbing presence to his wife Milena or his children Peter and Simona. And now he lived in fear they might meet him and mistake his double for him. He felt that his life was threatened by the presence of that unknown identical to him.
He kept wondering who it could be. That was his twin? Paul was an only child but he started to think that perhaps his parents …had given his twin to others. He couldn’t resist and asked her mother about…his twin. She got very angry and said him he must have gone mad. How could he think that his parents had given away a child, his double as Paul had called him?
Peter’s world collapsed under his feet and he really felt crazy when he found his double at the exit of his children’s school who went towards that stranger calling him DAD! Though shocked he came forwards calling his children. “ Simona, Peter! Dad, it’s me!” he shouted, and that stranger had said, laughing :” Oh, it’s easy to mistake us for each other, we are very much alike indeed!” It would have been the opportunity to exchange a few words, to find out something about his double, but Paul didn’t even think about it and ran away after having reappropriated
his children. They were very intrigued and kept asking their father about that unknown identical to him. “ You know, dad, he also has a mole on his nose just like you,” Peter said. “ “And he was wearing the same jacket that you are wearing” Simona observed. Paul was shocked and could not avoid the children, all excited, from telling their mother about the man mistaken for their dad. She, Milena made a strange face at that story. She joined in the laughter of the children but it was clear that she was unable to hide concern and perhaps even fear. That Milena knew who his double was? That she knew him? Paul couldn’t help but wonder.
One day Paul stopped at a traffic light, in his car, and saw his wife and him, his double, crossing the street side by side. It seemed to him that they were talking, that they looked at each other, but he was not sure. He preferred to think of an occasional meeting, and waited for Milena to tell him about it. But Milena didn’t tell about it even when she asked her how she had spent the day, and whom she had seen. The suspicion that Milena knew that guy became a certainty. Paul said he had to investigate who was his double and also…his wife. He hired a private detective. He thus learned that his wife met almost every day with her double. Those two were often seen around together. They went for walks, they went to the cinema, to the theater and even to the restaurant together. They seemed to take advantage of the fact that nobody would have found anything strange in it because Paul’s double would have been mistaken for Milena’s legitimate husband. But what shocked Paul most of all was learning that his wife Milena had had a tempestuous love story with Frank Powerful, so his double was called, before meeting him. Milena had attempted suicide when broke up with Frank. Paul was convinced that she had married him only because he was, at least physically, identical to her lost love.
Frank Powerful was thirty-nine years old and he was also an architect as well as an engineer. He was a very rich man. It was said that he had had a daughter from his great love. Oh, this too! Paul was sure that he had had the daughter from Milena. He felt defeated, destroyed. What was doing he there? He had no longer a wife, he had no longer a family. Not to mention the gossip of people and biting jokes like : “ Paul has discovered he is only the double of his wife’s love”
So it was that he decided to go on a long journey, although he was sorry to abandon his children. For years no one knew anything about him. For years he wandered the world from one city to another, always fearful of running into his double. Even when he looked in the mirror, he feared seeing his double. Was that face looking at him really his? He could not be sure even about it. Wasn’t it Frank Powerful’s face looking at him and laughing at him? It seemed to him that all his life he would be condemned to be looked upon but a face that was no longer his but that of his double.