Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
All Rights Reserved
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Mario V. Farina
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The twins, Mary Ann and Mary Lou were comfortably seated in facing sofas in Mary Lou’s home. They were joyfully babbling together like proverbial chatter boxes. They had not seen each other in over six years. There were dozens of glossy pictures of various sizes scattered on the floor between them. Mary Lou was showing her sister a photo taken several years earlier. This is the picture shown on the cover of this book. Mary Ann is on the left and Mary Lou on the right.
“Look how young we looked,” shrieked Mary Ann. “We couldn’t have been more than twenty at the time.”
“Perhaps, nineteen,” suggested Mary Lou.
“How pretty we looked,” said Mary Ann! “No wonder we had so many dates!”
“We sure had fun fooling the guys when we went out. They never knew which of us they were with,” laughed Mary Lou!
“We would play good cop and bad cop and they would never know how much they could get away with because they couldn’t be sure who they were with,” added Mary Ann!
“Remember that day at McDonald’s,” giggled Mary Lou? “I took your place at the job! Jerry, the manager, said he had never seen hamburgers made in such creative ways before!”
“And I don’t think he meant that as a compliment,” laughed Mary Ann.
“That day at the restaurant was funny, too,” chimed in Mary Lou. “I had gone in with Don, and he would secretly disappear while you took his place at the table. The puzzled look on the server’s face was precious. And then Don would secretly change places with you later. Every time the server came to the table he wouldn’t know whether he’d see a duplicate of me there or me with Don. We were having so much fun!”
“And that Psych class we took in college. We always dressed exactly the same. But we didn’t always sit in the seats we had been assigned. He would call on one of us to recite something, and he wouldn’t know from what seat would come the answer!” Mary Ann chuckled as she told the story.
“Every day, we tried something new,” exclaimed Mary Lou!
“Things changed when I met John,” said Mary Ann with her countenance suddenly taking a sad appearance. “Do you remember, it was at Janet’s twenty-first birthday party? You and I were there.”
“Yes, it was at the Lions Club hall. Janet had been dancing with John almost continuously. She introduced him to you and me during intermission.” Mary Lou’s eyes were beginning to glaze as she recalled the incident. “That was a happy moment for you, I could tell.”
“It changed my life completely,” said Mary Ann unhappily. “It led to many happy times and to many gloomy ones.”
“If it isn’t too depressing a story to tell, and you feel like talking, would you recount it,” asked Mary Lou?
“It is painful to talk about,” replied Mary Ann. “But I would like to go over some of it. You and I could always talk freely, but, somehow, I didn’t feel that this was a topic I could burden you with.”
“Nonsense, I wish you had talked to me about this. I think I could have helped you avoid a lot of unhappiness.”
“Thank you for that, Sis,” said Mary Ann softly. “I’d like to go over it with you. I think getting it out of my system would help me start a new life.”
“Go ahead, start anywhere,” suggested Mary Lou.
“A few days after the party, John called me on my cell phone. I don’t know why it was me, and not you. We are identical twins, we look alike, talk alike, and probably even think alike. I never asked him why. I don’t know whether he would’ve been able to answer the question. He suggested we go to a movie, then to a diner for something to eat. That’s all that it was. But, oh, what it meant to me! I had been immediately attracted to him, and getting that call, implied to me that I was on my way to Heaven.”
“As we were eating at the White Tower, he told me he would be coming into a huge inheritance from a rich aunt on his twenty-third birthday providing he had completed college by that time. It was a random remark. It shouldn’t have meant a great deal. But I felt that if our relationship would develop into a love affair and we got married, I would never need to worry about money ever again. I’m sure you remember how mom and dad would continuously scrap over which bills they would pay during the month and which they could postpone for a few more days or weeks. I hated listening to them bicker and it made me unhappy.”
“And so we were married,” continued Mary Ann, “you were at the wedding, and we danced up a storm at the reception. Our married life began like a fairy tale. I wanted a new house and John bought it for me; I wanted fancy furniture, a BMW, jewelry, nothing was too much to ask for. That inheritance was gone in less than a year.”
“Our marriage began to go south. There were no kids. But there was debt. John did the best he could. He thought it would be a good idea for me to go to work and help out, but I couldn’t see it that way. We divorced. I’m getting alimony. I had a very good attorney who worked miracles. Today, I’m very comfortable. I have a luxurious apartment, but nothing else. You did much better. Now, tell me your story.”
“Thank you for giving me a rundown of your story, Mary Ann,” said Mary Lou. “While it was happening, it saddened me greatly, to see your marriage fail the way it did. I wanted to help, but you never asked me to do so. I went to work for a Glamour Magazine, at a very good salary. Jack came into my life. Although you never found out, I was able to help with your finances behind the scenes. Jack and I had made a commitment to pay off your debts, and accomplished what we had set out to do. When the last dollar had been paid, Jack said that now, at last, he could asked for my hand. But I didn’t realize he meant it literally. When I held out my hand, he took it in his and placed an engagement ring on my finger. ‘Would you be my wife,’ he asked. I had not expected that question, but when it came, I knew that the only answer I could give, was yes!”
“That’s a very sweet story, Mary Lou,” declared her sister. “John had been out of my life for a couple of years, and I’m happy he came into yours. By the way, where is he? Since it’s Sunday, I had expected to see him here with you.”
“Oh, I should have told you,” responded Mary Lou. “He’s helping his brother fix a leaky pipe in the basement of his house. He said he’d be gone only an hour or two, but it’s been almost three since he left. I’m sure he’ll be back soon.”
“How will he feel about seeing me here? Should I leave? Maybe, I shouldn’t have come without calling you first to see if was all right.”
“There’s no problem, at all, Mary Ann. Stay! He’ll be happy to see you. He holds no animosity toward you!”
“I’m glad of that! Do you see one of the differences between my life with him and yours? With me, John always remained at arms length even though we were married. With you, he’s been more at ease. He’s not the formal John I knew, but the loving Jack that you do! Do you know what I did wrong? Why did my marriage with John fail? Why has your marriage with Jack blossomed so beautifully? You live comfortably, but not luxuriously. Your furniture is in good taste; mine was gaudy. I drove a BMW, I see a Ford in your driveway.”
“For some reason, I don’t fully understand, our philosophy of living deviated at some point,” responded Mary Lou. “I saw the struggles that mom and dad went through, just as you did. It made you unhappy, but it made me resolve to do better than they had!”
“Mary Lou,” said Mary Ann. “We both met John at the same time, at the same party. Why was it that he selected me, rather than you?”
“I can only guess, Mary Ann. I think that the poverty in our childhood home had made such a bad impression on you, that you decided to remove yourself from it regardless of the means needed. My methods to pull myself out were different from yours.”
There were footsteps on the porch. The door opened and Jack walked in. Spotting Mary Ann, he grinned and called out, “hello there, Mary Ann. Welcome! I’m happy to see you.” He walked over to where his wife was sitting and gave her a resounding kiss on the lips. “I’ll be back in just a minute,” he said. “My throat is dry. I need a glass of water. Be back in a minute!”
Mary Ann knew that she had only a minute to ask an important question.
“Mary Lou, in our marriages; we married the same man. My marriage with John failed. Yours, with Jack, is succeeding! In one minute or less, tell me the reason.”
“Mary Ann, that’s easy to explain,” said Mary Lou. “You married for gain. I married for love!”