Image by Christine Renney
I didn’t look like him, not really, although there were certain similarities I suppose. We shared a fairish complexion and were about the same height and build but that was it apart from the fact that we dressed alike and I thought this uncanny. We both favoured v-neck sweaters with a t-shirt beneath, jeans or chinos and comfortable shoes, most often a pair of trainers. We both wore dark colours, navy blue or black, and the t-shirt was a little blast of colour but nothing too flamboyant. A lighter shade of blue or a muted green but mostly our t-shirts were grey or simply white.
He had moved into the block directly opposite and was living in a place just like mine. But there wasn’t anything strange about this. All the flats in both blocks were identical. But I couldn’t help but feel that his dressing exactly as I did was more than a little weird and I began to obsess about it, to obsess about him.
Whenever he emerged from the entrance doors I watched him from my window and, even from where I stood inside my flat, looking out through the glass I could see quite clearly that his clothes were old and worn, the collars frayed and the colours faded. I looked down at myself and my own clothes, although hardly new, were still in good condition. I was pleased by this not because I felt superior, or in any way better than him, but it was something that was different and it seemed important.
I decided to follow him. I would like to pretend that this decision had been spontaneous, something I had decided off the cuff. But the truth is I deliberated long and hard about it and I was all too aware that by following him I was acting irrationally.
At the end of our close he turned left and I knew instinctively that he was heading into town. I was glad about this. It would be busy and in the hustle and bustle I would be able to get close although I had no idea what I expected to discover. His clothes were older than mine, he had been wearing them for longer but there had to be more, something else that would set us apart.
As I walked behind him I studied his trainers. I had a pair like them at home. Mine, of course, were almost new whilst his were old and scuffed and the soles had worn away to almost nothing.
I resisted the urge to reach out and pull the back of his collar to check the label. In my frustration I began instead to grapple with my own sweater and pulling it up around my head I found myself stuck. Stumbling on the pavement I continued to pull at it and could both hear and feel it coming apart at the seams. But still I wrestled with it and at last I managed to get myself free but my sweater was ruined and in tatters. The man had stopped and was watching me with a perplexed expression on his face. Embarrassed I turned myself around and began to make my way back.