*The usual disclaimers apply—this is a story tribute to Beverly Garland and the characters she played—we will all miss her.*
Sears Department Store
Saturday, December 23, 1990
"See it?" Jenna asked. She stood up on her tiptoes, her chubby hand reaching for one of the ornaments on the department store Christmas tree.
"No, Jenna," Jamie pulled his little sister's hand back. "You don't need that."
Jenna wriggled her hand out of his, reaching again for the silver and blue decoration. "Want—pease?"
Jamie sighed, pulling her away from the tree. "I said no. You can't have it."
Jenna stared at him, her dark eyes mutinous. Pulling away from Jamie she ran towards the tree.
"Jenna—" Jamie grabbed the now squealing, kicking toddler and picked her up.
"No!" Jenna screamed, her hands reaching out towards the tree. "Mine!" Jamie noticed that several people were staring now—the salesgirl behind the counter was shaking her head disapprovingly. Volunteering to babysit had definitely been a mistake—one that Jamie wouldn't make ever again.
"Wormbrain, just what do you think you're doing?" Phillip hissed. "Everyone's looking at us."
"What I am doing is getting bruised shins while trying to stop our sister from becoming the youngest klepto ever," Jamie said. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to pick out something for Grandma—we have about twenty minutes until we need to pick her up from her hair appointment. How about this?" Phillip took a blue blouse from the rack.
"I like the color but I think you need a smaller size." Jamie had to practically shout to be heard over Jenna—he wondered if there was a department in this store where you could return little sisters.
"Well here, you pick the right size and I'll take Jenna." As Phillip took Jenna from Jamie's arms she quieted down. "See? You like me better, don't you, Jenna?"
Jenna smiled. "Uh-huh."
"Very funny, Phillip." Jamie looked through the racks, searching for a blouse in that color marked small. Suddenly Phillip grabbed his wrist.
Jamie looked. "Oh my—" It was Grandma, standing in line at the register. She wasn't looking in their direction—she hadn't even noticed them yet.
"How did she get here?" Phillip asked. "She's supposed to be at Emilio's."
"Gamma?" Jenna pointed.
"I don't—" Jamie was about to call out when something caught his eyes. "That's not Grandma."
"What do you mean it's not Grandma?" Phillip said. "Of course it's her."
"Think about it." Jamie said. "Grandma was wearing a brown blouse, not a red sweater."
"Well then who—"
Jamie shook his head. "I don't know." As they watched, a slender woman with chestnut brown hair walked over to the woman who looked like Grandma.
"Mother I'm fine," the younger woman was saying. "You don't need to buy that for me. I won't need maternity clothes for a while yet."
The Grandma lookalike sighed. "Very well, Laura, but don't blame me when you begin to show and have absolutely nothing to wear." The two women walked by Jamie, Phillip and Jenna—not even glancing in their direction.
"Gamma!' Jenna called out, and Phillip shushed her.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Jamie asked his brother.
Phillip nodded. "I think so—that was freaky."
SMK SMK SMK SMK
4247 Maplewood Dr.
"You've got to be exaggerating," Amanda told Phillip. "You saw someone who looked similar to your grandmother."
"Not similar," Phillip said. "It was like an identical twin, like a—what's that German word? Doppel-something?
"Doppelganger," Lee said.
"That's it," Jamie said. "Jenna even called her grandma when she saw her."
"I'm just glad I didn't see her," Dotty shivered slightly as she took a sip of her coffee. "It's so strange to think that you have a lookalike."
"Oh believe me, Mother, I understand." Amanda said. Lee put his hand on Amanda's shoulder.
"Well they say that everyone has a double somewhere." Phillip said.
"That may be, but can we please not talk about it?" Dotty snapped. Upstairs Jenna began to wail, the sound filling the house.
"I'll go see to the munchkin," Lee went up the stairs.
"Boys, you should probably get ready for bed." Amanda looked at her sons pointedly.
"But it's only—" Phillip's voice faded away as he saw his mother's expression. "All right. Come on, Jamie. Night, Grandma."
"Night Grandma." Jamie said.
"Night, boys," Dotty said.
Amanda waited until they were upstairs before she turned to her mother.
"This is really bothering you, isn't it?"
"I know I'm probably being silly," Dotty said. "It's just—it's very unnerving to think that there is someone out there who looks just like you."
"But she's not you." Amanda took her mother's hands in her own. "Whoever she is, she'll never be you, Mother. You're one of a kind."