Doppelganger (Story by Risa Peris)

There was talk of her. First year. Freshman dorm. We all met with the Resident Assistant in the lounge who had wisely turned off the TV in order to get everyone’s attention. The Resident Assistant was Reyna. I don’t remember her last name. She was studying psychology and wanted to be a therapist. She took her RA job seriously.

It was Cory who spoke first. He had a blonde buzz cut and was studying computer science. “Hey, there’s a girl just like you in Ross Hall. I mean…just like you. Do you have a twin?”

I laughed. “No.” And then I got annoyed.

“She’s like you. Studying physics, I think. What are you? Poli sci?”

“Yeah, so?” I wasn’t happy about the prospect of a twin because I didn’t want to know what I really looked like. What if she was ugly? Then I would be ugly. What if she was merely okay? Then I would only be okay.

Each year of college, more students remarked that I had a twin.

“She’s just like you but…”

“But what?” I was defensive.

They shrugged. “Maybe she’s a little cooler. Fresher.”

I bristled. What an attack! A twin who was better than me.

For four years, I never met this so-called twin who was winning awards in physics. I won one award in political science but that was the humanities and their awards ceremony was different than the sciences. Sometimes I would show up at parties I heard she was going to but never saw her. There was a blank space in the yearbook where her face should have been. I decided not to go to graduation because I was having a fight with my older boyfriend. My mother was across the country and ill and I found it completely crazy to go to graduation where nobody cared if you graduated.

Around August, I packed my belongings and prepared for Boston where I would do my graduate studies. I mailed some boxes and then packed a big suitcase for the train trip. I got to the platform and I thought I saw something familiar. You know? That image that looks at you every time you stare into a mirror. She was dressed in blue like me.

“Hey,” I yelled. I knew it was her or me or whoever it was. She didn’t look up and I stumbled on the platform and then some businessman in a tan coat bumped me and I fell, suitcase and all, onto the train track. I looked up and saw her. She was smiling at me. People were screaming and my twin said, “I’m going to MIT for physics. Thank you for my independence.” And then the train came and my life ended in a bloody mess. My last thought was that I didn’t look so bad and that she was pursuing something I longed for but never felt smart enough for. Physics. Have fun Doppelganger.


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