The moment I saw her I knew I would have to leave town, but only if she was smarter than me, which was not possible.
She was coming down C concourse in a crush of people whose flights just landed. She looked good, casual clothes, hair tinted red, dark sunglasses, relaxed. She saw my wave, threaded through the crowd and came to where I sat at a small table in the bar.
“Meghan,” I stood and hugged her; she slid her heavy carry-on bag off her shoulder as we sat.
“Danielle, I can’t believe how much you look like me!” She pulled off her sunglasses and my eyes looked back at me.
“I haven’t been a strawberry blond for years, but it wouldn’t make sense for me to be a redhead while I’m here being Meghan, now would it?” I sipped my water. It had been three months since we’d traded keys, names and lives.
“No, it wouldn’t,” Meghan giggled and looked around. “I hope we’re not seen.”
“We should be ok,” travelers moved around us, everyone with their own agendas, the guys behind the bar making drinks and taking money. If anybody saw us at the airport, they would recognize strawberry blond ‘Meghan’, and hopefully just think the red-haired woman looked familiar.
I pushed a water bottle towards her, “you’ll be in Paris for six months on this work-study, right?” Plenty of time for me to finish what I’d started here.
“Yes. I’m just so amazed I get to go and study art in Paris!” She gulped the water, “Mother never encouraged me and always said I’d do something as foolish as art over her dead body.”
We laughed. Well, she was almost dead; it wouldn’t be long now.
“How is Mother,” she capped the water bottle, “still bossy and angry?”
“Oh, you know Mother.”
“Really, Danielle,” her brows scrunched together, “are you sure you don’t mind being the dutiful daughter for a little longer?”
“No,” I smiled, “I finally get to have the family I never knew growing up in the child care system.”
I’d hit the jackpot; a rich mother, semi-comatose after a stroke, a nurse to care for her, a maid, a cook, a good-looking guy who’d been pining for Meghan for years, what was not to like?
“I still can’t believe I never knew I had a twin,” Meghan reached and squeezed my hand, “have you found out if Mother knew?”
“Yes, she knew.” I sipped my water and watched the pain and anger on Meghan’s face. It was our skinflint grandfather who bundled me off at birth without telling our Mother, but Meghan needed to stay angry at Mother, so what was one more lie?
A toddler at the next table cried while his harried parents tried to deal with him and his baby sister. They made enough noise to cover our conversation.
“So, you’ve got everything with the name Danielle, like we agreed?” I finished my water.
“Yes. Passport, ID, home address, all of it is yours,” she patted her carry-on bag, “it’s been so great staying at your apartment.”
She looked at her watch, picked up her carry-on. We stood and hugged again.
“Give Pearsey a hug for me, will you?” She hiked the carry-on strap over her shoulder, “She was always so good to me; even let me help her in the kitchen.”
“Pearsey’s gone, Meghan.”
“Gone? I thought she’d be there until they took her out in a coffin.”
“She decided to retire after a fall down the basement steps.”
“Oh, poor Pearsey,” Meghan was walking backwards, still talking, “I’ll go visit her after I’m back in town.” She waved, turned around and walked briskly back up the concourse.
I’m sure Pearsey would appreciate a visit to her grave. This life was wasted on Meghan. I was doing her a favor, really. She’d never learned to fight. I’d survived by clawing my way up out of a nightmare.
It might be weird getting rid of a twin, an identical twin. If she cooperated, I wouldn’t have to. If not, I wouldn’t let sentiment get in the way; I never had.
I checked my watch; perfect timing to meet Kevin, the youngest of the family attorneys, at our favorite restaurant. He’d been trying to date Meghan for years and now his dreams were coming true.