Thursday, September 13, 2012


Bob first saw him on the subway, on his way home from work. He was looking out the window, not at anything in particular, when his reflection turned its head and looked at him. Then he realized, quite relieved, that it wasn't his reflection but someone standing behind him and he turned.

And stopped. Bob's eyes widened in disbelief as he looked at this person - they looked like him. Almost exactly. They had a slightly different suit on, a different color tie, little lighter hair color, but other than that, they could have been twins.

Bob had heard of the concept of an "identical stranger" before, but he never believed it until now. He got up to talk to the stranger, but the man left the subway before he could.

Over the next few weeks, Bob kept seeing his double in various places, out of the corner of his eye. He was sitting in the corner of a bar that Bob frequented; at the restaurant Bob took his wife to; even at his office, Bob thought he caught a glimpse of the stranger.

"Great job on that report," his boss told him one morning.

"What report?" Bob asked. He had never done any report or received any request. His boss laughed it off, as if it was a joke.

People kept telling him things he had done, but he never remembered doing them. His wife thanked him for sending the flowers, saying that it was so unlike him to remember their anniversary.

One day, he didn't go to work. He just wandered around the city, wondering what was happening. His boss never called. After a while he called his wife, but something strange happened. His own voice came on the line. "Hello," Bob said. "Hello," his voice echoed.

He heard his wife's voice in the background saying, "Bob, who's on the phone?"

"Nobody, dear," the echo said. "Just a sales call." He hung up the phone.

Bob rushed home, but on the subway there, he caught his reflection in the glass. He looked gaunt and tired. In fact, he didn't look like himself at all. At his house, he looked inside and caught a glimpse of the stranger. The stranger looked more like him than he did.

Suddenly, a crushing realization hit him. Was he actually Bob? Perhaps he was the stranger. Perhaps he had got it all wrong and this house didn't belong to him at all.

As he looked into the window, the man inside looked out. They could have been mirror images a week before, twins. Now the stranger who was Bob looked out the window and smiled at the man who was nobody.

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