Diving In Deep

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01: Doppelgänger

September 10, 2012

He was leaving reality behind. That's what it felt like to him, anyway. The days were blending together and it was hard to differentiate one from the other- school, work, studying, exams, chores, and even sleeping was all blurring together into one daily mess: his life.

Instead of reading, something he normally did to pass the time, he spent most of his day working at the local bookstore. Even being surrounded by things he loved, Blake couldn't keep up the facade of being happy anymore. His smiles were always fake, pushed out and overall strained. It fooled most people and that was enough for him.

His shift ended early and he left with just enough time to head out into the city. New York was crowded at night, but he knew he'd have to steel himself if he wanted to make it to the book signing of his favorite author. People of all shapes and sizes crowded the streets, and it was only by sheer luck that the family owned bookstore he was headed to was right inside the city limits.

The wind was cold against his exposed skin, the remnants of summer almost nonexistent. The beginning of September was always the busiest month for him. With college starting back up and the chilly weather coming in, he often found himself sick with something, whether it be a cold or the seasonal flu. Even after twenty-two years, his body was still weak, and instead of getting better, he only found himself missing more out of life.

The door jingled as he made his way in the bookstore. The only thing alerting Blake that he was in the right place was a poster on the wall labeled "Book-signing Today" in handwritten letters. It was sloppy and it looked more like a toddlers font than anything else.

The line was stretched out from the first bookshelf and five tables down. It wasn't crowded at all, but that was expected since he came at the last minute. Even if right outside the building people were huddled together, inside the store was the complete opposite. It felt like he was in a world apart from his own. It was crazy to think a door separating the two could make so much of a difference.

Blake kept his hands in his pockets and waited in the slowly diminishing line.

The author was a kind enough lady. She was older, in her mid-fifties and it showed: unkempt shoulder-length ginger hair curled around her face while too many freckles adorned her olive complexion. A shirt that looked like it was meant for a fifteen year old hugged her upper body tightly, showing off more than he ever wanted to see of her. Thick-rimmed glasses laid next to her pen, and he caught himself wondering why she didn't have them on, other than the obvious "they get in the way" or "they make me look too old." He would admit to liking her writing, but her looks were another story.

She left him a note in his newly-purchased book. He saw the heart next to her name along with her number, and despite feeling intimidated, Blake smiled and thanked her.

There were more people behind him still waiting their turn as he slid past them and made his way back to the front, noting that the line had made it all the way to the entrance. He was tempted to stay and read, but shook his head no as soon as the thought passed his mind.

Blake's shoulder collided with someone at the entrance. He quickly turned around to apologize, stopping short when he came face to face with himself.

His eyes widened and a muffled "sorry" passed his lips, but otherwise he couldn't move or say anymore. Dark brown hair, unnatural murky yellow eyes with a touch of gray, a sharp jaw line and curved nose-it was a split image of his own person. The thought that he had a lost twin was an explanation, albeit a flimsy one considering he was an only child to a deadbeat dad and a mom who passed away when he was born.

The stranger was the first to break eye contact. With a raised eyebrow and an amused look, the Blake look-a-like caught up to the line that had become smaller in the (what felt like minutes) seconds they had encountered one another.

Blake kept his sight forward, fearing what he would see if he chanced a look back.

He headed home with a heavy head and a surreal feeling that floated around him. It wasn't that unusual to find someone that had similar features to yourself, but that stranger didn't have just that; they looked exactly like him. What were the chances they would be at the same place and at the same time?

The street lights lit the path home. Normally Blake would be rushing home to slip into more comfortable clothes and read on his bed by the window, but he was lost in a world of his own creation, replaying a few seconds of time over and over again.

The only sign that proved he was still somewhat in reality was Blake covering his head with the red hood of his jacket as the sky opened up and rain drops nestled on strands of brown hair.

A dull, throbbing pain made its home in his forehead, mostly forgotten in the throws of the storm raging above.

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