I read my flash fiction piece, Virtually Identical, at Talking Tales #24, LeftBank, Bristol on 20th August.
I shan’t introduce you to my sister,’ said Kate. ‘You’ll fall in love with her. Then I’ll have to hate you.’
‘Fine,’ I said.
(I’m used to Kate’s pronouncements.)
We were driving to Sussex. Having decided to marry me, Kate felt I should meet her parents.
‘You and your sister,’ I said. ‘Are you alike?’
‘We’re virtually identical.’
‘Stop the car,’ said Kate. ‘There by those bushes. I need to change.’
I find it captivating: Kate’s ability to transform herself. From brisk solicitor to untamed party-animal. From formal dinner guest to fun-runner in baggy shorts and shapeless t-shirt. The Kate, who now appeared in a black skirt and white blouse, was the dutiful daughter.
‘I must warn you,’ said Kate. ‘My parents are prudes.’
To me they appeared courteous, welcoming, perfectly charming.
‘Samuel will be sleeping in the guest bedroom,’ said Kate.
(Another of Kate’s pronouncements.)
Did I see Kate’s mother raise an eyebrow?
‘Don’t come looking for me in the night,’ said Kate. ‘You’ll end up in someone else’s bedroom.’
Kate’s father’s generous measures of single malt meant that I fell deeply asleep, but I woke up immediately when the bedroom door creaked open.
‘Don’t turn on the light.’
In the morning, she’d gone.
‘Were you alright last night?’ said Kate.
‘By yourself in your lonely little bed.’
‘By myself? But didn’t you …?’
‘Didn’t I what?’
‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘I slept fine.’
‘Who are you?’
‘Me?’ I said. ‘I’m the bridegroom.’
‘I thought you looked familiar,’ she said. ‘I’m Aunt Astrid. I’m potty as an aspidistra. Did you know there was madness in the family?’
‘Really?’ I said, looking round the marquee. ‘Tell me. I haven’t met Kate’s sister yet. Is she here somewhere?
‘Sister? Kate has no sister. Kate’s an only child.’
Virtually Identical was first published in Burningword Literary Magazine Issue 89 (January 2019).