The Work

2 Karins on a Bench

This story will be made into a short film.  I won’t look very much like this story since film is a visual medium.  The goal of the film is to experiment with film editing, especially split screens.  I’ll post the film when I’m done with it. -Karin

I’m rummaging around in my purse looking for my cell phone when I feel the presence of someone else. Someone is sitting beside me. I turn, and see myself.

“Are you going to get that?” myself asked looking at my ringing cell phone. What do you call someone who is you but who is not you? If she was you and you were you you’d call her by your own name since you’re one and the same. But when you are clearly not you and you seem to be someone else but still you, then who are you?

“I’m you, silly, just call me Karin like you always do.”

Now she’s reading minds.

“What are you doing here?” I whispered to uh…myself, looking around me like dudes with the fashionable straitjackets are coming to take me away, which would be infinity preferable. Usually, on normal days, the voices in my head STAYED in my head. They don’t get dressed up in the same clothes I’m wearing and join me on a park bench on a beautiful April day.

“We need to talk.”

Truer words have never been spoken.  “No, no, NO! Clearly I have taken one too many health supplements this morning. Was it the Vitamin D? Or maybe the digestive enzymes. I have to be very careful with health supplements, I tend to go overboard with them and then I have problems. Why do I do this to myself? I know they’re not good for me.” I have forgotten all about myself as I ruminate over my failings as a healthy human being. I take out my invisible baseball bat and start whacking myself on the head with it mentally. “So stupid…”

“Snap out of it! I don’t know whose idea it was to put you in charge.”

“I’m not hearing you! La la la…la la la…”

“Get over yourself, would you?” Karin asked as she inspected a piece of scrambled eggs hanging on for dear life on her jeans. I flicked the egg off my jeans. She nodded with supreme satisfaction. “That’s better.”

“What do you want, Karin?” I ask, deciding to play along.

“I want to integrate.”

“Integrate?”  That sound ominous, last time she used the word “merge.”

“Well, there’s no use us being two when we can be so much more being one.”

“Oh no,” I said justifiably horrified. “I remember the last time we tried this! I ended up in a rat trap on Aurora! And where were you, huh? It was all your idea and then you left me to clean up the mess!”

“Hey, you were the one who couldn’t keep the faith.”

The last time I truly listened to that voice in my head, we decided to be an actor. We wanted to go to L.A. and break into the business. She tricked me into it by telling me that she agreed that our goal was to be a working actor. We’d do it slowly, work our way up, do character roles, and never, ever, become famous. Karin is such a lying bitch! That wasn’t the plan at all, she actually thought we would be discovered and become a STAR. A famous celebrity who would be loved by all! Our face would be a household name like Angelina, Captain Sparrow, or the Green Giant!

“Ok, sometimes my imagination is bigger than reality.”

Karin doesn’t know what reality is! Being famous is a trap. You lose your freedom. Right, I really want to become a product that is poked and prodded by cosmetic surgeons, managers, and People magazine. I’m 47 years old, what do I care about what people think about me sneaking into McDonalds for a Big Mac?

“Isn’t that what being an actor is all about?” Karin asked me.

“No! There is a difference between being a professional actor and a celebrity.  There are a lot of no-talent celebrities running loose out there already!  You practically ruined us.”

I turned and saw an elderly man in his walker staring at us.

“You had your part in this. I’m not the one who checked us into that motel on Aurora.  There were lumps in that bed!  I swear I could feel them moving.” Karin accused.

“Jeez, we had to go somewhere! L.A. tried to eat us alive like some rabid boa constrictor.”

I took a deep breath.

“Why do you want to integrate, Karin?”

“Being separate just isn’t working out. I tried, Karin. Sharing the same body while having different last names and different Facebook accounts just isn’t working. There isn’t enough time for us to get all the things we want to do done. It’s not like we get twice as much time, you know.”

“True…. Why did you want a different last name in the first place?”

“Because that idiot Lee kept mispronouncing my last name on purpose on stage! Trying to teach me a lesson. `Comics should have names that are easy to pronounce.’ Well that’s bullshit. People can just learn to pronounce our name correctly!”

“Yeah!”

“And I got an email from a company who bought my domain name. And they tried to sell it to me! What kind of company goes out and buys up people’s names so they can resell them? You were smart. You own your name already.”

“Yeah!”

“And if I change my name back to Armbrust, like you, then I can get rid of my Facebook account and just use yours. You never let me get into mine anyway.”

“Yeah! …What?”

“We would have only one Facebook account and all of our friends would be there.”

I mull this over.  Integrate Facebook? We can’t do that. We have completely different sets of friends! My friends are a bit offbeat, a little out of the norm. I don’t want her friends seeing what my friends are doing. Why does she want this?

“You want to take over my friends!”

“You have a lot more friends than I do, Karin. I like your friends.”

“You have your own friends, you don’t need mine. Go find more friends if you want more friends. My friends are my friends and you can’t have them!”

“Karin, it is possible for two people to have the same friends.”

“We’re NOT two people! You’ll just confuse them! They won’t know who I am, or who they are talking to! I’ll lose all my friends!” This has happened before.  Wendy said she didn’t want to be friends because she didn’t know who I was from day to day.

“Don’t pull the `Wendy’ card, Karin! She wasn’t confused, she just felt guilty because she slept with your ex.”   I don’t even know if this is true, he keeps “skirting” around the issue. Har har…

“You are trying to take over my life!” I said.

“I already have.”

Oh my God, it’s true. I’ve just written a story about arguing with myself. Just look at how it ends! I would never write a story like this! I’m disappearing. She’s swallowing me whole. I’m going to be digested by my own self! If you digest yourself, are you still you?

“I figure we can work together.” Karin said.

“I’m not going to let you do it. I like myself the way I am, I don’t want to integrate. You’re crazy! What you want to do is scary. Scary! Do you hear me?”

I shot up off the bench, grabbed my purse and charged away.

“That went well…”

I sat on the bench, watching myself go, leaving me behind. It’s so much nicer when there are no voices in my head.  She’s smart, she’ll figure it out.  Integration is the key. What do you call someone who is you but who is not you?

©2011 Karin Armbrust

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