Once a Doppelgänger wondered what it would be like if . . . Whenever it caught sight of the person for whom it was taken as a twin, the Doppelgänger was struck by how little similarity it could find. To be sure, there was a surface resemblance, but that must happen all the time, given the boom in makeover advertisements of late to help you look like anybody you fancied. You didn’t even have to resemble others physically. Dressing like them or speaking like them was apparently enough to show you were soul mates, along with thousands of others dressing and sounding the same. Thinking as one could also demonstrate the kind of bond that was increasingly a defense against finding yourself alone in life. But the Doppelgänger actually did want to be alone. Or at least to be recognized for its own qualities and not mistaken for anybody else. There must be something in its experiences to set it apart. Otherwise, why be born in the first place, it had to ask itself? These thoughts most often occurred in the early hours of the morning, long before the sun came up, when the Doppelgänger sat before a window and stared at its reflection against the moonlit scene outside. Soon that reflection must fade and the Doppelgänger lose even this evidence it was itself and no other, but until then, it stood out more clearly than the dim world beyond. Its features had a solidness and definition to them that was reassuring for the proof they gave that its years, even the most unfocused, added up to something. They and it were not just a might-have-been, a puzzle of a thousand pieces with one missing. Its Berlin nights and Paris dawns had not disappeared utterly, nor the insistent pull of New York streets, nor the chill mountain reaches of the west, either, nor mist in the hills beyond Kyoto or drifting in over the seawall at Macao or pooling in the Rajasthan desert. They and all the changes the Doppelgänger had undergone down the years remained in the image that memory helped trace across this glass. They all still had meaning. All belonged. As did times when nothing looked to have happened, Milton moments of waiting in the dark for the next few paces in life to beckon. Moments like this one, when the Doppelgänger sat at its window before the sunrise and wondered what it would be like if . . .
Copyright © 2005, revised 2008, by Geoffrey Grosshans