THE INDISTINGUISHABLE

It is often said that a married couple will, over time, begin to look alike. This had always seemed to me ridiculous and, if I hadn’t witnessed something so extraordinary, I wouldn’t have given it any thought.
People who live together will, of course, start to dress in a similar way and adopt the same mannerisms. And we all change as we grow older, our facial features, height, hair colour, even the eyes. I suppose it’s because we fade.
But just because he walks and feeds it every day, a man does not come to resemble his dog nor does he look like the woman he has worked alongside for thirty years. It simply isn’t possible and even if it were, if we did change until we were identical to those with whom we share the most time, the ones to whom we reveal ourselves the most, it still wouldn’t explain what happened.
Even if many of us were twinned, as a crowd we would still appear varied. I doubt that on a busy street, in my present state of mind, I would have noticed the doppelgangers.
And of course, there would be those who, for a vast array of reasons, hadn’t been able to connect with someone else. Those who had been disappointed and let down, time and again, and had given up entirely. And those who, ever hopeful, continued to search and so it is an impossible theory that doesn’t help me to make sense of what I saw.

Carla has left me; she has been gone for almost a month and I haven’t told anyone. Each morning I set off for work and alongside my colleagues I act and react as if nothing untoward has happened, as if my life hasn’t been interrupted.
In the evening, I do what I need to do and then I read. I find I can’t face watching the television or a film, not on my own, and I don’t listen to music, although when Carla was here this was something that for the most part I did when alone.
We were together for five years, a long time or at least I thought so but now I’m not so sure. Certainly not long enough that we had started to change. I wonder how much longer we would have needed. Another five years at least, probably longer. I wonder also how it would have happened, slowly of course, both of us gradually changing, each of us perfectly synchronised with the other until we were indistinguishable. Or maybe the stronger character would dominate, he or she imposing on the other. Or perhaps the weaker one, draining from the other, diluting all that was vital, all that made us feel alive.

I have hardly left the flat. I go to work and I shop for food but yesterday I ventured into town. It’s something that Carla and I used to do every couple of weeks. Although I haven’t any money for anything inessential I felt I needed to attend this ritual. I took the bus in but I have no recollection of the journey. I am certain now that it happened then but I wasn’t watching, wasn’t looking. Not until I stumbled from the bus and wandered around for half an hour at least did I raise my head to find that everyone had changed. That all the shoppers were identical. I can’t elaborate for I have found that when we all look alike there is little to describe.
I stayed for hours, walking about and waiting for things to return to normal and when they didn’t I at last headed for home.
I rode the bus again and I watched my own reflection in the dark window and this time I really did feel as if I was on the outside looking in.
DSC_0694

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15 thoughts on “THE INDISTINGUISHABLE

  1. This is an excellent piece, Mark, which opens almost like a commentary or essay and then develops into a slightly unsettling tale. The ending is genius, and, although I knew some identity issue would arise, I couldn’t predict your closing paragraph. Marvellous!

  2. Hi Mark, I was going to comment on how poignant this is and thank you for sharing, but based on the comments above I’m now wondering if this is very well-written fiction. That it be truth or fiction feels indistinguishable from a writing point is obviously a very good thing. 🙂

    1. That’s a real accolade and it means a lot Diahann coming from you, whose subtle weaving together of memoir and observational stories in your essays is a masterclass for any writer.

    1. Thanks Pam. Yes, the photo is one of Chris’s. The working title for this piece was The Doppelgangers, but I had used on another work, and so I always knew I needed another title. I came up with it just before posting and I have to admit that I am quite pleased with it and thank you for mentioning it. Regards Mark.

    1. That is a wonderful compliment – thank you. So glad to have found your site. Your poetry and art are both amazing. Regards Mark.

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