I walked through the front door and everything was different. “Hi honey,” it sounded like my wife, but it wasn’t my wife. Everything was different, including her. Her hair was falling … in a way, how do I put it, not like it usually does, like, maybe more to the left? I don’t know, I can’t really articulate it, but it was all just slightly off, I was looking right at her, and it just wasn’t right.
And the shirt she was wearing, I’d definitely seen that t-shirt before, I mean, I could recognize it, it was one of mine, almost exactly like a t-shirt I knew to be something I owned, like I could see it in my closet, I could picture it all folded up. But this was not my t-shirt, it was close, a near exact facsimile of a shirt I’d received like ten years ago at college, at some club, or one of the club fairs, one of the student groups was giving out free t-shirts to people who signed up for their email list. I’d never really worn it, definitely not out of the house, I think it was an XL, but my wife always wears these old oversized t-shirts when we’re inside. Not this one though, it was … was the lettering off? I couldn’t tell if my shirt, like my real shirt, if there wasn’t maybe a hole under the left arm, or something. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but something was different.
It was definitely different. “What’s wrong?” this lady asked me, and I didn’t want to act not natural, in case whoever set this whole thing up was maybe looking to see if I wasn’t convinced. But I didn’t know what to say, it was like trying to smile a natural smile for a photograph, something you just can’t fake, you’re really trying, but it always looks a little crooked. I felt like any words that would have come out of my mouth right then would have been the same, they would have been a crooked giveaway. And then this dog came up to me, again, I’m telling you it couldn’t have been my dog. They’re about the same size, yes, almost identical, but I know my dog, OK, I know the way my dog moves his feet when he comes over to say hi, it’s just … it’s not the same way, the pitter-patter pattern is … could it have been a robot?
No, just different. That clock on the wall, wasn’t it like two minutes behind? It was also a little … no, it had to be. I’ve never been able to trust that clock, not as an actual indicator of the current minute, but I was looking at my watch, why would this lady have fixed the clock? Why now, after all this time? Or maybe this was a completely different house? I thought, should I walk back outside?
Or would that have been too much of a giveaway? I couldn’t let them know, though, that I was on to any of this. “I’m doing great,” I told her, I think it sounded natural enough, “You’re hungry?” I talked with as few words as possible, hoping to draw something out of her, anything, maybe if she talked a little more I’d be able to put my finger on exactly what was different here. I mean, she obviously knew me. She said hi. She was wearing a copy of my clothing. And I’m supposed to know her, right? Like this was all supposed to be normal? The keys in my pocket opened whoever’s front door this house was. How is that possible? What was I missing?
“Are you OK? You’re acting different,” she told me. I’m acting different? Maybe that was part of her trap. I started to panic, right below the surface. Before my face gave it away, I thought, is it too late to get out of here? “Listen,” I stammered, “I think I dropped my wallet back at the corner, I’m going to go to check real quick,” I finished the sentence while I was already halfway out the door. She called out something to my back but I was gone, walking down the block, quick but not running, because I didn’t want to give myself away, but it was definitely a brisk step.
I took out my phone to call … I don’t know who, maybe there was an email, maybe I missed a text message or something, some sort of clue. But I looked down, this thing too, it looked sort of like my phone, but just off, like a knockoff, like the operating system got one of those really minor updates, like sometimes when you wake up in the morning and your phone tells you that it enhanced this or tweaked that and, you can kind of tell, but not really, and that’s what this was like, not just the phone though, it was like everything, like my whole life had downloaded some sort of minor upgrade, and I couldn’t tell, I couldn’t for certain be sure as to what changes were made, and what else would wind up being different.
Was this even my phone? Could whoever have switched my house and my wife and my dog somehow have gotten into my pocket while I was at work? I didn’t leave this thing out on my desk, had I? I don’t think so, but was I positive, was I absolutely sure? I wasn’t really sure about anything, like this block, or where I was, everything should have been the same, but nothing looked like it was supposed to look, the stores, the cars on the street, the money in my pocket, everything was just a little bit off, just not really like it was supposed to be, just … everything was just different.