"Do you believe everyone has a twin?"
It's after closing time, and I stuff napkins into the metal dispenser on the table. I look up at my co-worker, Emma, who is balancing the cash register for the day.
"What do you mean by twin?" she asks, not looking up from the quarters she is counting.
"Someone who looks like you." I move to the next table and continue refilling napkins. The café is somber with only Emma and I there. "There's, like, six billion people in the world. I suppose it's possible, right?"
Emma finishes her counting and laughs. "Yeah, I suppose," she says. "But if I've got a twin, I hope she has more luck with this hair than I do." She flips her curly hair. The humidity outside has made it especially frizzy today. "You almost done? Time to blow this popsicle stand."
I replace the final napkin holder. "All done."
We stand on the sidewalk in the twilight. As Emma locks the front door and pulls down the grill, I stare at her. She's so full of life it makes my eyes hurt.
"Hey, sweetie, you okay?" she says, frowning at me.
"I'm fine. Just a long day." I stuff my hands in my pockets. "See you tomorrow." I walk away, leaving her standing on the sidewalk.
Back at my apartment, I pull out my scrapbook. It's been a long time since I worked on it. I look at the pictures, running my finger over the decorations, remembering. Perhaps it's been too long. Perhaps I need to work on it again.
Emma is already at the café when I arrive the next morning. "What's shaking?" she says. She has brought flowers, cheerful daisies in tiny vases, and is placing one on each table.
"Nothing much," I say. I grab an apron from the back and tie it on. "Hey, where can you get clothes in this town if you're on a budget?" Emma's hair is tied securely, the way it always is, but stray curls have escaped to bounce across her forehead.
"What do you need? Jeans, shirts, dresses?" she says, admiring her daisies.
"Just jeans and shirts," I say. "Like what you wear to work. Simple stuff."
"Got just the place," she says. "Landry's Closet. I shop there all the time. We'll go after work."
Emma's fashion sense is impeccable. "Oh, sweetie, try these." She shakes a pair of jeans at me. "And these shirts. You'll look fab. And this is what I wear, so I know it's comfortable. Go try it on."
I admire my reflection in the changing room, gathering my hair into my hand. I like it. But the hair just won't do.
After I leave Emma, I buy a home perm. At my apartment, I pull the shades and get to work. The chemicals make my eyes water. But it's worth it.
The next morning, Emma stares at me in horror. "Oh, sweetie, what happened?" She touches the mass of unruly curls on my shoulders.
"Home perm," I say. "I just wanted some curl, to go with the new clothes, you know? Guess I overdid it."
Emma clucks her tongue and drags me to the bathroom. "No worries, here's how to fix it until it calms down." She arranges my hair, securing it with one of her own elastic bands. "This works for me. The perm will settle down eventually."
I study her eyes, her freckles, her mass of coppery curls. "Thanks," I say.
That night, I make another trip to the drugstore. I barely sleep. Everything has to be right.
The next day, I wait until Emma has gone into the cold room. The café is deserted at this hour. I follow her inside, pulling the door almost shut.
"Hey sweetie, what's shaking?" She rummages for something in the boxes. "Be careful you don't shut us in. I left my cell phone outside. Now what—" She turns to face me, and the little pats of butter she'd been holding fall to the floor, their metallic wrappers clicking as the hit the floor.
I unwrap the bandanna from my head, a few coppery curls tickling my ear. Emma's eyes widen in shock and recognition.
I've been very careful. The hair, the makeup, the freckles. Hardly anybody would know the difference. I've brought my camera for this moment. It'll be a beautiful new page for the scrapbook.
"I told you, sweetie," I say with a smile, stepping closer. "Everybody has a twin."