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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Janee on August 7, 2008


Her name is Karen, and yesterday I kicked her out of the house.

I suppose, now that I think about it, that's actually the end of the story, which is not really the best place to begin. So let me start over.

Her name is Karen, and she is a short, middle aged woman, a bit stout around the middle, with crinkles at the corners of her eyes from years of squinting out of glasses that were not quite strong enough for her shortsighted eyes. She is, in almost every respect, quite the opposite of me. But in the one way that really matters, we are identical.

We share a brain.

Don't ask me how it happened. Well, okay, you can ask me, but you won't get a satisfactory answer. Not even the scientists, doctors, and psychic quacks can explain it. All we know is, it was a freak accident involving a chicken burrito, a neon sign that read, "Pawn Shop," and a large quantity of electric eels in a vat of seltzer water. And when it was all over, Karen and I had the same brain, filled with the same experiences and the same memories.

Having her own thoughts and memories replaced with mine made things a bit awkward for her; she really didn't feel comfortable returning home to a husband and family she didn't even know any more. It seemed only logical and compassionate for me to invite her to stay at my house until she got her life sorted out. After all, she was me, after a fashion. So she moved in that very same day.

Our first evening together was filled with awkward silences and uncomfortable glances, and occasional questions like, "How does it feel to be short?" or "Don't you wish you didn't have to wear those glasses?" These questions were usually answered with one or two words, and then we would lapse into silence again.

The second evening was a little better, though not much. The second evening we spent some time reminiscing. "Do you remember the time little Jenny spilled her chocolate milk all over Bobby's electric train set?" I quickly discovered, however, that the fun of reminiscing is in sharing your unique and personal perspective on an event someone else might recall differently. For Karen and I, the perspectives were always the same, so the evening quickly slid into a game of let's-see-who-can-say-what-we-both-want-to-say-before-the-other-says-it-first.

We both went to bed early.

The third evening...I don't even want to talk about that. That was when we degenerated into telling each other jokes that we had each heard a hundred times before, even though we both knew that the punchlines would not come as a surprise to either one of us.

It wasn't a pretty sight.

It was that evening when I realized that Karen just simply had to go. "It's for the best," I explained. "You'll go your way, and I'll go mine. Then, when we get together again, a few years down the road, you'll have different experiences from me, and different perspectives, and we'll actually have something to talk about."

"Plus," Karen agreed, "we'll have different jokes to tell."

I nodded politely and smiled.

But the truth is, that's not the real reason I kicked Karen out of the house. No, the real reason (which I discovered during our joke telling session) was simply this, that Karen has the most annoying laugh in the entire universe.

As we stood on the porch saying our awkward farewells, I was embarrassed and chagrined to realize: I'm pretty sure she feels the same way about me.

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