Deception – Twins, Part III

elizabetholdhamDeception, Musings5 Comments

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Almost matching dresses – gotta love those 80’s styles!

If my twin were a partner in deception, she was no equal in the deceptive arts. This became apparent during our first attempt to use twindom to our advantage, in first grade.  Pursuant to my mom’s separate identity strategies, we were in different classes. On a whim, we decided to switch one morning. I stood in line for her classroom and she in mine as we waited for the teachers to unlock the doors. Despite one of her friends asking me if I’d gotten a new lunchbox and my momentary confusion about which cubby to use once inside, no one in my sister’s class noticed that we had switched.

My sister, however, was apparently unable to wipe a shit-eating grin off her face while waiting in line. As I was setting up my sister’s desk, my teacher and sister entered the classroom.

My heart sank as I saw them and heard my teacher say cheerily, I think you’ve got the wrong one. The other teacher looked at me in surprise, and the classroom started buzzing with chatter as students realized what was going on. My sister was smiling ear-to-ear, but my face was red with embarrassment as I followed my teacher back to my own classroom. She was not as sneaky as I.

Given our naturally deceptive appearances, we didn’t use it often. The idea to have my sister take my grade 12 pre-calculus test arose in the final hour of my last round of high school exams, after my realization that her efforts might garner more positive results than mine. She had taken the class a year earlier, and I had slacked off much of the current term, so I figured it was at the worst a net-even proposition. The outcome of the test wasn’t relevant to my future, as I’d already accepted my university offers, and they weren’t contingent on anything. The idea that it could negatively impact our future didn’t even occur to us. We’d have to get caught first.

Why take life seriously?

On the morning of the exam, she and I both wore hoodies and blue jeans, typical attire. I sat through a movie in physics class about Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. I knew I would have to watch it again later that afternoon and found only parts of it interesting. I wasn’t looking forward to a second viewing.

After lunch, she and I switched hoodies, and I went back to Physics while she went to take my exam. A few of our friends knew that we had switched classes, but no one else noticed or gave me a second glance. Midway through the movie there was a commotion at the door, sunlight spilling into the dark classroom.  Mrs. Mathog, an intimidatingly smart, strong, outspoken teacher who ruled her classroom with authority and knew my mom and my family, was having a discussion with a student who had delivered something.  She called a few student names, including my sister’s, so I got up, heart pounding, and made my way to her desk, head down to avoid the movie screen.

The student who had arrived was a friend of mine. She had brought a stack of large envelopes holding senior ball photos from our formal the month prior. The top envelope had my actual name on it, not my sister’s. My friend, knowing that I was not taking my math exam, had brought my own photos to me in my sister’s classroom.  I couldn’t help taking a peek, even though I knew it might cause problems.

Not too bad, I thought, as I admired my lavender satin gunnysack prom dress and my date’s matching boutonniere. I felt a presence over my right shoulder and looked back to find Mrs. Mathog’s face studying mine. 

Are these yours?  

I gulped.

They couldn’t be mine. I was supposed to be my sister.  And my sister had gone to the prom with Steve, who was in this very class, looking at his own photos with her. No, these are Beth’s. She’s taking an exam right now, so Erin brought them here.

Erin jolted in realization then abruptly exited to deliver more photos. Mrs. Mathog studied my face intently. My pulse was racing. I was glad for the dark of the movie because I didn’t want her to see the sweat on my upper lip. I debated if she would actually accuse me of being myself. She looked as if she doubted my claim very much, but she also couldn’t know for sure. If she were wrong, it would refute two things that she probably believed:

  1. that she could tell us apart, and
  2. that she could trust us.

Only the first was true. She could tell us apart, and I could see it in her eyes. But she relied on the second point to tell her that she was wrong on the first. She slowly nodded, and I felt the weight of her stare as I retreated, head lowered, back to my seat. I felt a familiar sense of shame but this time no sadness – just relief.

The rest of the class passed without further incident, and we emerged to switch back to our own hoodies before the next period. Our deception remained undiscovered, and her test score was unremarkable enough for my grade to remain what it had been before the exam.

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5 Comments on “Deception – Twins, Part III”

  1. I would have imagined such a sense of adventure and conquest, but it sounds downright terrifying!
    I’m dying to know: Was it worth it??

  2. First class after lunch. I swear I got through that class purely on the misguided belief that I had charm! I can understand the sweat on the lip- she has that effect on people even when you AREN’T up to something.

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