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Five weeks or so ago, Leigh showed an uncharacteristic rudeness to Kristin, a regular of the down-the-street bar Solaris. Kristin and her compadres had begun to frequent Stenny’s, and when she tried to have a friendly conversation with Leigh, Leigh acted like a total jerk.
Leigh’s husband Jim knew there was a reason for her behavior, but he knew he would not learn what it was until Leigh was ready to talk. Tonight, after Jim turns away from his conversation with the Ironically Named Tip and toward Leigh, he senses that she has something to say.
“I’m ready to tell you,” Leigh says.
“Tell me what?” Jim asks. He has not kept the incident with Kristin at the front of his mind, other things have interceded—his sales quota, worry about the health of his widowed mother, and his brand-new exercise regimen.
“Why I wasn’t nice to Kristin, from Solaris.”
“Not nice? That’s how you remember your behavior?”
“Oh shut up. Let me tell you the reason and then you can judge if you want.”
“Go right ahead,” Jim says. “I’m all ears.” It’s a bit of an inside joke, as Leigh has been known to tease Jim about his ears. She says they’re normal size but too big for his head.
“’I’ve told you about Maggie, right?”
Jim has never met Maggie; she and Leigh have been estranged since their teen years. “What could Kristin possibly have to do with her?”
“She looks exactly like her.”
Jim exhales. “So? A lot of people look alike. We only have so many face parts.”
“You don’t understand,” Leigh says. “Exactly alike. I think they’re the same person.”
Jim makes a sound that is unmistakably a scoff. “Oh come on, Leigh. You think Kristin is actually Maggie? If so, why didn’t she just tell you?”
“You don’t know her. She’s evil.”
“But I heard others from the Solaris crowd call her Kristin,” Jim says. “Do you think she changed her identity just to fuck with you?”
“You clearly don’t understand the lengths evil people will go to in pursuit of their evil-doing.”
“Have you googled your sister recently?” Jim asks.
“Yeah, I’ve been googling her every couple of months for years. That’s the other thing. Nothing comes up.”
“Well, she probably got married and has a different last name.”
It’s Leigh’s turn to scoff. “Maggie loved our last name. She thought it sounded royal. She’d never change it.” Leigh and Maggie’s family name is Cambridge.
“So maybe she changed her first name. To something royal like Anastasia.”
“I hate it when you don’t take me seriously. How many times have you known me to be wrong?”
Jim concedes the point. “Not too many.”
“So why do you doubt me now?”
“Because your hypothesis is completely ridiculous. You and Maggie stay away from each other for more than 20 years. All that time she is stalking you, planning re-entry, which includes changing her identity. All this so that she can sit down next to you at a bar and have a friendly conversation, which she knows will completely fuck you up.”
“Anything can be made to sound silly. But truth is stranger than fiction,” Leigh responds. “I will once again be proven right.”
Jim has had enough of this conversation. Between the frustrating conversation with the Ironically Named Tip and Leigh’s far-fetched conspiracy theory about Maggie/Kristin, he’s ready to do some serious drinking.