Author's Note: I recently watched the 9-minute movie "Inseparable," with Benedict Cumberbatch and Natalie Press and was absolutely enchanted by it. It is almost entirely wordless; all the important bits are shown without words, and when there is dialogue, it's only about what is unimportant. It's an exquisite and terrible story. You can watch it here: http:/ www . youtube . com/watch?v=_KA5yMa15nE , but I will also give a brief synopsis so these ficlets make sense.
A man named Joe (Benedict Cumberbatch) is married to Jean (Natalie Press) and has a small son. On a normal day he goes to the doctor and learns he has a brain tumor that will kill him. Distraught, he contacts his identical twin brother Charlie (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is a drunk and in debt to bookies, and convinces him to exchange places so that his wife will have a husband and their son will have a father. There is a slow scene showing them trading clothes and an emotional scene showing their parting and Joe slowly walking away (to commit suicide, I believe, though that is left unsaid). Then Charlie, looking exactly like Joe, goes home to Joe's house, probably hoping he can deceive Jean. She comes out of the house joyously to meet her husband, but the moment she lays eyes on Charlie, her expression changes to one of horror. The little boy comes running out of the house, and Charlie/Joe picks him up and holds him, giving Jean a pleading look. That is how it ends.
I'm slightly obsessed with this little story. It's heartbreaking and exquisitely told without words, which makes it even more impactful. Of course I began wondering what happened next, what the son would do when he finds out the man he grew up calling "Dad" isn't really his father, what Jean would do when she realizes she might be falling in love with Charlie/Joe... So here are my impressions of the future in a series of ficlets.
Three years later, she realized she was beginning to love her husband. Joe—the first Joe, the real Joe—was fading away in her memory, and Joe—the Joe she had learned not even to think of as Charlie—was becoming real, not her enemy, not the man who had stolen Joe's place, but the man who was her husband.
There was a slight sensation of horror with the realization. For three years she had held on to Joe—the real Joe, her Joe—rejecting this interloper's Joe identity. Yearly they gave each other meaningless little Christmas gifts and lavished all their attention and gifts on Nick. Daily they faced each other at the breakfast table, made conversation, talked about the bills, took Nick to school or the doctor or football practice. Nightly they got into the same bed, and she turned her back on him, listening to his breathing until she heard he was asleep before going to sleep herself. For the first year she had cried herself to sleep every night and knew he heard her. For the second year she lay stiff and rebellious and knew he could feel her anger. Anger at him for not being Joe, for trying to be Joe, for trying so hard. For the last year she had very simply gone to sleep. Now suddenly she was lying awake, intensely aware of him next to her, feeling rather than hearing every breath, and she was afraid. Afraid Joe would disappear forever. Afraid of loving this Joe-Charlie person when she didn't even know who he was.
Author's second note: My friend Pickwick12 has also written a short series about this sad, wonderful little movie, and she comes at it from an entirely different point of view. I find her take to be very moving and fascinating, though it's not the way I see the story. We both got so much out of this delicious little movie!
http:/www . fanfiction . net/s/6461993/1/The_Decision