by Abhipsita Kundu

“Honey, how was your day?” Ariana called out, as she continued to put on her eyeliner in her bedroom.

“The usual, love,” Ryan, her husband of seven years, replied. “Two long meetings on those sales pitches I had told you about, management presentations… yada yada.”

Ariana put on the final touches to her make-up, and stepped into the living room.

Ryan looked up from his cell phone, and stared at his beautiful wife.

“You look…” he began “Wow! How did I bag you?”

Ariana blushed. Two years of dating Ryan and seven years of being married to him; and even now, he made her feel butterflies, like a teenage girl.

She joined him on the couch. She took his hands in hers and began, “Sweetie, before we go out, there is something I need to tell you.”

She took a deep breath and began… “You know how I say that it sometimes feels like we have known each other forever? I mean, it’s great, but you know how I sometimes fear that I can’t surprise you anymore?”

“Ari, what are you getting at?” Ryan looked at her quizzically.

“Well, remember how we made that impromptu plan last Saturday?”

“Yes, of course! We had so much fun.”

“I know, Ryan. But you need to know that it wasn’t me.”

“Wait, what are you saying? You don’t enjoy pub hopping? Cool, we won’t go again.”

“No, Ryan. That. Was. Not. Me.”

Ryan now looked bewildered, but Ariana continued, speaking rapidly.

“My parents had me cloned when I was less than a month old. It was when my twin died in her bassinet from SIDS, and my mother was inconsolable. But when my father lost his job a year later, they could not take care of both of us and decided to give my clone up for adoption. My mother told me about her only last month, and since then, Marianne and I have been in touch.

She is exactly like me in every way, except there is something about her. She is somewhat impetuous and reckless. Anyway, so, we wanted to have some fun, and I got her to go out with you last Saturday while I spent some time with my parents.”

Ryan looked at her incredulously now.

“Have you lost it, Ari?” he asked her, his voice rising.

“Ryan, I know, this is too much to take in, but -”

“We slept together, Ari! This – this Marianne and I!” he continued screaming. “I thought it was you!”

Ariana looked away, visibly distressed. “That was not a part of our agreement,” she mumbled to herself. “I had asked her to feign a headache and pretend to go to sleep. I shouldn’t have trusted her with you.”

Her contrition did nothing but upset Ryan even more.“You’re a psychopath,” he spat the words out.

“Ryan, I’m sorry. I don’t blame you for what happened. I shouldn’t have trusted Marianne. I barely know her.”

But Ryan’s eyes had glazed over, and he looked like he was about to faint. Just as Ariana was going to speak again, Ryan collapsed on her lap.

“Ryan? Ryan? Oh my god! Ryan, wake up,” Ariana shook him urgently. “Ryan, it was a joke. There is no clone, no Marianne. It was me.”

Ariana didn’t know what to do. It was April 1st, and she had only wanted to pull a prank on Ryan, like every year. She shouldn’t have taken it this far. What was she going to do?

As she picked up her phone to dial 911, she noticed Ryan stirring.

“Oh, thank God!” she heaved a sigh of relief. As she began to gather the love of her life in her arms, Ryan opened an eye and glared at her.

Ariana recoiled, for, Ryan’s iris was the colour of blood and seemed to be glowing from within. Just then, a mechanised voice rumbled from deep within Ryan:

“Shock alert! Shock alert! System will begin to eliminate threat in 5… 4… 3….”

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