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Doppelgänger, Part 1

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Chapter 1: Curio

Nothing can just be easy, Angela thought, breathing a sigh at the roadblock that barred her way home. In just the few hours she’d been in the library, construction crews had erected barriers that were now blocking her usual route from the library to her home. She’d have to double back and go down 3rd Street. She hated 3rd Street.

The dirty little throughway was a favorite hangout for the more unsavory denizens of the town, and they were always accosting passersby for money or trying to peddle drugs. She set her small stack of books down on a nearby bench and slipped her little purse underneath her shirt to hide it. There was nothing else for it.

Angela doubled back, passed the library, and banked left down 2nd, hurried down the block, and then onto 3rd. She walked at a brisk pace, holding her books to her chest and looking straight ahead, ignoring the glances from alleyways and the corners of boarded-up buildings. Halfway down the street, the first brazen panhandler took up stride next to her.

“Spare some change, little lady?” he asked.

Angela shook her head and squeaked, “I don’t carry any cash. I’m sorry.”

The dirty man spit on the sidewalk and walked away. Angela let out her breath and hurried along. The end of the street was now in sight. From there, she could cut down 6th and she’d be in downtown proper, where it was clean and safe.

Nearing the intersection, she passed a small curio shop, where something made her pause. The sun reflected the light off a little trinket in the window. The tiny pendant, shaped like a ruby heart, twinkled so invitingly in the window, draped around a black display neck. She stepped to the glass and stared at the thing. It was just so pretty. The small facets caught the light of the sun, making the thing blaze with red light. She looked into it, and could see the street behind her reflected to near perfection in the shiny surface.

Angela wasn’t much for jewelry, or for dressing up at all, for that matter. She’d best be described as plain. She did not stand out or call attention to herself. Attention made her nervous, anxious, uncomfortable. There was something about this cute little heart, though. She pushed open the door to the shop and stepped inside. The place seemed like the average knick-knack shop, littered with trinkets and baubles. A bell tinkled above the door as she entered. Angela scanned the various items on the shelves and displays out of reflex, but really there was only one thing she was interested in.

From behind a beaded curtain, a gray-haired, matronly woman wrapped in a tattered shawl emerged.

“Hello.” She said, “Can I help you?”

The woman’s accent made it sound more like “Ken ah hilp you?”

Angela set her books on the counter.

“There’s a necklace in your window. Would you mind if I looked at it?” She asked.

The woman nodded, and Angela followed her to the window, pointed out the pendant, and watched the woman remove it from the display. She offered it, and Angela took it, holding it by the delicate silver chain. The little ruby swung back and forth hypnotically. It really was pretty, she thought.

“How much?” Angela asked.