The Day I Saw Myself
by
Kate Baker
 
     I had just packed the kids in the car for a quick trip to the store when it happened.  When I look back on the incident, it seems almost comical really.  You see, I drive one of those nondescript minivans that you see a plethora of on the street everyday.  In fact when my husband, David and I bought it, I told him I was going to have to get a hot pink dingle ball for the antenna to be able to find it again in a parking lot.  When you walk away from it, it just seems to blend in with all the other vehicles around it.  I can’t count how many times my kids have said “Look Mom, there’s a car just like ours!”  So when the silver, late-eighties minivan came driving down the road toward me I didn’t think anything of it.  Until I saw myself behind the wheel.
      I was wearing a shirt I recognized from my closet.  My hair was the same way I’ve worn it for more that a year.  I saw my sunglasses swinging from the rearview mirror and the Pooh sunshade on the window behind me that keeps Annie from whining too much about the brightness.  The car was dirty, like always and I could see the silhouette of other small heads in the car, which was normal.  It all looked completely normal.  Except it couldn’t be, could it.
      All this washed through my brain at lightning speed and I nearly rearended the car in front of me and had to swerve to miss.  I quickly pulled in to a vacant parking space and shut the car off, panting as the panic set in.  The questions kept coming no matter how hard I tried not to think of them.  They just kept washing over me, wave after wave.
     How could I be there if I was here?  Isn’t there something called a paradox that says that I can’t be in the same place at the same time?  Isn’t the time line going to be all messed up now that I’ve seen myself?  Now that I know of ‘Her’ existence.  Was ‘She’ from another dimension, another time line, an alternate universe?  Was ‘She’ a slider passing through or a leaper on some great secret mission?  Was ‘She’ on her way home to her husband?  I saw other heads in the car.  Did ‘She’ have an Annie and a Matthew too?   Was ‘She’ an Avon representative and a member of the PTA?  Did ‘She’ volunteer two hours a week at her daughter’s school?
     No, no, no I told myself, shaking my head to clear away the fog and panic and I had to laugh as the realization dawns on me.  I was wrong.  It couldn’t have been me.  ‘She’ didn’t live at my address.  There weren’t two listings for David & Rebecca Salinger in the phone book.  There weren’t two Annie’s in the first grade of Willowcrest Elementary.
     I sat in that parking space and laughed and cried with relief.  “Wow”, I said out loud, “I really went off on a tangent, didn’t I?”
     In the backseat, Annie stops picking on her little brother just long enough to notice that we are not where we are suppose to be and asks why we stopped here and could we get some ice cream from the Baskin & Robbin’s behind us.  I tell her no as I mop my face with a tissue and proceed to back the car up and carry on with the original plan that I was trying desperately to remember in the oatmeal that is now my brain. 
    Carry on as if nothing happened, right?  What did happen, anyway?  You thought you saw someone who looked like you and it gave you a little scare is all.  If you told anyone they would laugh at you and with good reason.  This is the stuff of Heinlein novels or X-Files episodes.  Best just to forget the whole thing and maybe in a few days or weeks you can laugh about it.  Maybe you can share it at the next party after everyone has had a little too much to drink and won’t remember you mentioning it in the morning.     Yeah, that’s it.  Just forget it.
    Some how I manage to remember everything I was supposed to pick up at the store and after I repack the kids in the car I set it on autopilot towards home.  I turn the CD player up a little too loud and we all sing along with the Backstreet Boys.  Not once on that drive home did I think about ‘Her’.
    As I near the house, I can see my neighbor mowing his lawn.  I wave as I drive past and he waves back but as I near my driveway my world tilts on its side and I keep going without turning.  Just before my house passes out of view I turn and look back at my minivan parked in the driveway.  As the kids and I drive on into the sunset of evening I imagine ‘Her’ cooking in my kitchen, David nuzzling the back of ‘Her’ neck as she stirs the spaghetti sauce I had planned for dinner.  Later ‘She’ will give Matthew a bath and read to the kids before tucking them in to bed.  I willed myself not to think about any more as I reached for another tissue and wondered where we were supposed to go.
 

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