“Wow what a coincidence, Sasha,” the blonde handsome potential client greeted Betty. She wanted to die right then and there. This was the worst hangover ever. And to think, the drinking had happened a week ago.
“Sasha?” her new colleague Macy said in bewilderment. “Her name is Betty.”
“But you told me your name was Sasha,” the guy said, equally confused.
“No that wasn’t me,” Betty laughed as an idea suddenly struck her. “Sasha’s my identical twin sister.”
“Oh, no wonder. Can I ask you for her number then?” he asked. “She accidentally gave me the wrong number.”
“Her cellphone got stolen,” Betty explained, amazed at her improvisation skills. “She is yet to get a new number.”
“That’s a pity. Can you give her my number then, I would really appreciate it if she could call me once she has a new number,” he said, handing her his business card.
Great. There was no backing out of this.
“Sure… err… Brad,” she replied after glancing at the card. Oh yeah, that had been his name, she now remembered. Forgetting the name of a hot guy like him was not acceptable, but that wasn’t the only thing she had forgotten from a week ago. Apparently, tequila was a very effective memory eraser, among other things.
It was her colleague and friend Elena’s idea to celebrate Betty’s 29th birthday getting drunk in a bar, of all places. “Your birthday falls on a Wednesday, ladies’ night!” Elena had said excitedly. I know a bar that serves bottomless cocktails to ladies for 20 bucks on Wednesdays. Let’s go!“
“But I don’t drink,” Betty had protested. “Can’t we just hang out at a cafe and read books? A venti hot mocha sounds good right about now,” she suggested, deferring to her weekend pastime.
“Yeah, and that’s why you haven’t had a boyfriend in years! Come on, you’re freakin’ 29, you have got to let loose!”
Since Betty had no other plans that night because Elena had emailed all their bosses to say that it was her birthday and they were not allowed to let her go on overtime, she found herself walking into a bar that night, but not before Elena had yanked her hair out of a ponytail, hidden her eyeglasses, painted her eyelids smoky and threatened to pour coffee all over her business suit if she didn’t change into the little black dress that was her birthday present for her.
She had felt awkward at first, but started to relax as she started to feel the buzz from the tequilas. The insides of her stomach was on fire, her head felt like it was stuffed with cotton and she couldn’t feel her face anymore, but she had never felt so good, so liberated, in her entire life.
“That hottie is totally checking you out,” Elena had whispered loudly as the band played their fourth song. “Go talk to him!“
The sober Betty would have said “No way!” and insisted that he was not and why would any hottie be interested in a plain Jane like her, but the alcohol-induced Betty had replied, “No way! Women don’t come to men. Let him come to me.” Then she looked straight at him, or somewhere in his general direction, because she couldn’t see clearly without her glasses and with four tequila shots in her. Then she smiled and flipped her hair the way she had seen lots of flirty women do in the movies.
Less than a minute later, he and his buddy joined their table.
“Hi there, I’m Brad and this is my cousin Jake,” had been his introduction.
She felt as though it was wrong to introduce herself using her real name because drunk Betty was completely different from sober Betty. Then she remembered Beyonce and how she said that whenever she performed onstage, she pretended she was an alter ego – Sasha Fierce.
“Hi I’m Sasha, and this is my friend – ” she waved a hand towards Elena, willing her to continue “ – Brooke.” Elena had jumped right in.
After that, Betty couldn’t remember any details except for fuzzy images and snatches of conversation.
The next clear thing she remembered was waking up the next day with one hell of a headache and the urgent need to puke her guts out in the toilet. But that wasn’t the worst part of it – she had woken up in an apartment she had never been in before, next to a space on the king-size bed that had obviously been slept in.
She had managed to find her purse, found all her things intact and tiptoed outside to see if the owner of the place was around. No one else had been in the flat. So she had let herself out and flagged a cab to take her home, thinking that she had somehow survived the night unscathed.
“I didn’t know you had a twin,” Macy said after their meeting with Brad had concluded.
“Yeah, a lot of people don’t,” Betty smiled through gritted teeth.
“Why oh why did he have to be a client?” Betty wailed over dinner with Elena that night. “Somebody please kill me now!”
“Look, this isn’t the end of the world,” Elena said, completely coating a french fry in ketchup before popping it into her mouth. “Maybe if ‘Sasha’ never texts him, he’ll get the hint and move on. I’m sure he has a lot of women on his list. Maybe he just asked for her number out of politeness, because he thought you were her. Wait – you are her. This is getting confusing.”
“That’s what I thought too but then when we were emailing about work stuff, he actually made a separate thread without everyone else CC’ed in reminding me to pass his message along to ‘Sasha.’”
“Wow ‘Sasha’ must have been good in bed,” Elena whistled, popping a grape in her mouth.
“Oh-em-gee! Will you please not talk like that about ‘Sasha’ in front of me!” Betty shrieked, covering her ears. “Dear God you’re right, this is confusing. Maybe we should stop referring to her in air quotes. But anyway, I said Sasha still hadn’t gotten a new phone and then he dropped the subject but then started asking about personal friendly stuff. I knew he would bring her up again sometime so I panicked and bought a cheap phone from 7-11 during my coffee run this afternoon.”
“Ah… now it’s clear what this emergency dinner is for,” Elena said, nodding sagely. “You need my help in composing Sasha’s hook up message.”
“No, I need your help in composing her ‘I’ve moved on, so should you’ message,” Betty corrected.
“What? Are you out of your mind?” Elena spluttered. “Girl, you had your glasses on when you saw him this morning, I’m sure you saw that he’s H-O-T.”
“I know, but the girl he’s got the hots for is fictional. I don’t want to have to explain that to him,” Betty sighed. “And besides, the girl he has the hots for doesn’t get all nervous around him. I don’t want to have to drink each time we go out and forget what transpired on all our dates.”
“There are so many holes in your argument, but I know how stubborn you can be, so I’m not gonna debate with you,” Elena replied. “So let’s get this started then. Let’s see… just tell him… ooh I got it! ‘Hi handsome. A pretty blonde just told me that you wanted to talk to me? Or was talking all that you had in mind?’”
“Are you sure that’s not too racy?” Betty panicked. “And why is Sasha being like that if she intends to snub him?”
“This is how slutty girls roll,” Elena explained. “Just think of Sasha as a tease.”
“Okay, you know better,” Betty said, typing out the message and hitting send.
“I think I’ve just been insulted,” Elena said indignantly.
Moments later, the cellphone pinged with an incoming text. “Oh I’m pretty flexible. What did you have in mind, Sasha?“ Betty read out loud.
“Wow he really is expecting her and no one else,” Elena observed.
Four hours later, they were still at the restaurant. “Please feel free to correct me at any point that you think I’ve understood wrongly but didn’t Sasha want to snub Brad earlier tonight?” Elena asked.
“Well how was she to know that he would turn out to be so interesting and cute and funny?” Betty moaned. “Sasha is a girl too, you know. I’m sure even she couldn’t bear to just shoot him down like that.”
“Right. Well please tell Sasha that I’d love to stick around, but I’m bushed and I have work tomorrow,” Elena said, not even bothering to stifle a yawn as she picked up her bulging tote and headed out the door. “And besides, my phone is dead and I’m dying to check Facebook. So bye.”
Minutes after Elena left, however, the most crucial message of the night arrived. Why did he have to ask that just when there was no one around to ask for a second opinion? Betty nervously bit her nails as she read and reread the message before finally replying, “Sure, tomorrow night is perfect.”
It was time to stock up on tequila.
“Wait, let me get this straight – I go for a vacation for just three weeks and when I come back, I find out that (1) my friend is still exchanging chummy emails with a hot client of hers even long after they had sealed the business deal, (2) this friend’s twin sister is regularly going out with some hot guy she had a one night stand with, (3) the guy in #1 and 2 is the same guy and (4) the girl in #1 and 2 is the same girl but the guy doesn’t know that.” Elena said, ticking off the numbers on her fingers.
“Yeah, that pretty much sums it up,” Betty agreed, digging into the mac and cheese she decided to have for lunch.
“You know, when I left, I thought that all I would be behind on were my TV shows. But your life has way more happening in it.”
“But does Sasha at least remember how terrific he is in bed this time?”
“No! They’ve never done it again. Sasha always make sure not to be too drunk and always ends the night early by making up some excuse.”
“Because she’s afraid that if she gets too drunk, she’d accidentally blurt out the truth or something.”
“Then let her! At least he’d finally know the truth and you can stop this weird role playing thing. It’s seriously freaking me out and I’m a fan of Lost.”
“No I’m not gonna let her spill the beans,“ Betty declared. Elena was about to protest but Betty held up her hand to silence her. “Because Betty will be the one who does that. He actually asked Betty out tonight.”
“Well first of all, referring to your alter ego in the third person was weird enough, but referring to yourself in said matter is even more so,” Elena pointed out. “Second of all, hu-what? How did this happen?”
“We were emailing about books. Turns out he’s quite the reader himself. We were talking about Harry Potter and how sad we were that the movie series was about to end when he suggested talking more about this over dinner or coffee.”
“I can’t think of a single thing to say about this.”
“I know, I mean, I can’t believe he’s cheating on my twin sister with me!”
“Actually, he’s cheating on you with you. At some point in the past, I did mention that this was confusing, didn’t I?”
“What do I do? I mean, I’m really crazy about him but he’s this – cheater. I mean, what kind of guy would cheat on a girl with her twin?”
“Umm… Todd Wilkins, Ken Matthews, and just about every boy who was linked to any of the Wakefield twins of Sweet Valley High?”
“But they’re fictional. I’m not.”
“But Sasha is. I guess that’s what you get for creating a fictional character,” Elena had the last word.
Betty wished it was Sasha here right now instead of her real self. She badly needed a tequila shot or two to loosen up.
She tried to find a nice way to segue into her confession during their dinner, but there was never a good conversation piece for that. “Did you guess that Harry Potter was the seventh horcrux and oh by the way, Sasha is also fictional like him,” didn’t sound so good.
Besides, Sasha was never mentioned. She knew that on her part it was because she was guilty of bringing her up because she did not in fact exist.
But what about Brad? Was he also guilty – guilty of cheating on her? But then again, they never did say they were exclusive. Still, it must be weird to be dating two sisters at the same time.
“Do you want to have coffee?” Brad asked her. She smiled and said yes, as she needed more time to find the guts to tell him her yet unrevealed secret. He paid their bill and helped her out of her chair.
“Well I wish we could disapparate but we don’t have wands. The good news is that the place is near enough for a walk.” She wanted to suggest her favorite coffee place which was also just a walk away, but she was too nervous to do anything but nod.
“So what was your favorite subplot in Harry Potter?” was his first question as they started to walk.
“Hmmm I haven’t really thought about that,” she mused. “I guess it’s the whole rags-to-riches or should I say muggle-to-wizard story of Harry. I mean his whole life he was being mistreated by the Dursleys and he’s just so sad but one day he finds out that he can finally escape them and have a home in Hogwarts. And he finally finds out what it’s like to be loved.”
“Yeah that’s a nice one. For me it’s Ginny Weasley’s thing for Harry. She always liked him but he was too busy with being famous and nearly dying each year so he didn’t notice her. But she never gave up on him and one day he finally saw her.” Then he stopped walking and turned to her and said, “I have a confession to make – you’re my Harry Potter.”
“I have a confession to make too,” she replied, wishing more than ever that she had Sasha to help her out. She looked at the ground, afraid to look at his eyes and see the admiration draining and being replaced by anger. “Sasha isn’t real.”
She explained as quickly as she could without once looking up. He never interrupted her during her explanation. She supposed he was too mad to say anything. After she was done, she bit her lip to keep from crying. “I’m so sorry. I never meant for this to spin out of control.” She kept her head down and walked away from him.
“Wait,” Brad called after her, taking her hand in his. “Let me show you something.” Betty didn’t know what was going on, but she let herself be pulled along. A few steps later, she found herself standing in front of her favorite coffee shop.
“You see that table over on the corner?” he asked, pointing with his hands. “Months ago, I noticed a pretty blonde sitting there reading a Harry Potter book. I had a crush on her immediately. I wanted to go over and introduce myself, but she looked so engrossed in her own world that I felt I would be intruding if I did so. So I just watched.
“Later that night I borrowed the Harry Potter books and started reading them so that if I ever saw her again, maybe she wouldn’t mind so much being interrupted if it was about the very world she was immersed in. So I read the books, even brought them along to the same coffee shop. She was always there every weekend, but she never looked up from Hogwartz.
“More than once I even fell in line at the cashier with her but she kept her nose buried in her book and only took it out to say her order – a venti hot mocha, no whip.
“Then one night, my cousin dragged me into a club and I saw her there. I couldn’t stop looking at her. She didn’t have any books to stick her nose in so she finally saw me and when she smiled at me, I grabbed my chance.
“It was obvious that she wasn’t used to drinking, so I offered to bring her home because she looked like she had had enough. As I drove, however, she passed out before she could tell me where she lived. So I brought her to my home instead and carried her to my bed. When I lay her down, she started crying about dementors and refused to let me go, so I soothed her and hugged her to sleep.
“The next morning I knew she would wake up with a major hangover, so I decided to go and buy her favorite cup of mocha from her favorite coffee shop. Imagine my disappointment when I got back and found that she had ‘disapparated’ from my flat, from my life.
“But the next week, I was once again in luck when I found her again – or as it turned out, her twin sister. Once I had her sister’s last name, I knew I could put together a search to find out more about her. But I couldn’t find anything about her. So I decided to search about the sister instead and I found out that the sister was actually an only child.”
“So you’ve known all along that Sasha doesn’t exist?” Betty finally interrupted him. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“What was I supposed to say, ‘can you please help me understand why Harry lived again even after he was killed by Voldemort and why you’re pretending to be two people?’ That wouldn’t have sounded so good,” he replied.
“So, do you want that venti mocha or would you rather have a tequila?” he asked, brushing tendrils of hair off her forehead so he could peer into her eyes.
“Mocha, please,” she replied, staring straight back at him. “Only Sasha drinks tequila, and she just left and is never coming back. And besides, she told me tequila leaves the worst hangover ever.”
“While it’s Betty I’d rather be with, can’t say that I’m entirely ungrateful to your twin sister,” he said. “After all, she brought us together. Can you at least let her know I send my thanks?”
“Oh she got the message,” she said, grinning up at him. “And she also told me that she was wrong; tequila’s hangover ain’t that bad after all.”
This is an old short story which I originally published here.
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