the sincerest form of flattery

She spent years living in my shadow. I never really thought much of it--I tell people because I just got used to it, but if I'm being honest, it's because I was just too self-absorbed to let it do otherwise. But everything I did, she did. She adopted my clothes, my sayings, even the little quirks I didn't even notice that I had. I don't know how obvious it was to others, but I couldn't get rid of her if I tried--and I did once or twice. What good is having a self if someone else is just going to copy it? Sometimes I'd lash out and tell her to stop. And I settled disputes by pretending they never happened--and for her part, so did she.

We spent years apart when we both went off to university, and I never gave her any thought in all those years, except occasionally wondering if she still tried to look like me. One night, stoned out of my mind, I became convinced she had spies in my dorm to watch me and report. I couldn't sleep that night.

But that was still early on in my academic career, and soon other thoughts occupied my mind entirely. It wouldn't be until I had long since dropped out and settled into the life of a courier that I met her again--though at first I didn't recognize her, nor she me. She worked at one of the law offices I delivered to on a regular basis--her with her business suit, all polished and professional, just like I always imagined I'd be, if only life had worked out the way I planned.

She'd grown up, but there was something about how she moved--she never put it behind her. She was as surprised as I was to realize it was me, and offered to take me out to dinner that weekend. It wasn't as awkward as I expected. Indeed, it wasn't awkward at all. Despite never having given her any thought in all the years she'd been following me, it was like I'd known her forever.

We got good and drunk that night on her dime, and, since she lived in the suburbs, fucked in my Belltown apartment. She was gone by the time I woke up. I smoked a bowl to help with the hangover, and spent the rest of the day trying to shake the feeling that she had finally supplanted my identity, that I was living in the cracks because she was the real me now and I was the pale copy.

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