The other woman in the elevator and I nodded courteously at one another. I leaned reflexively toward the buttons, saw that “L” was illuminated and refrained from superfluously pressing it, as made-up surveys claim some large percentage of people do. Looking politely up at the descending numbers, I set about sizing up my fellow passenger out of the corner of my eye. She was sizing me up, too.

I glanced at her black, furry coat. She glanced at my black, furry coat. I looked at her white, furry hat. The white, furry hat I had at home was whiter and furrier, more of a pouf, less of a scrunch. You need a lot of messy hair underneath the white furry hat, to serve as a kind of counterbalance. Spilling out from under this white, furry hat were tangles of curls, reddish brown. Her hair was lighter and redder than mine, which was probably why her glasses, rectangular of lens and identical to mine in every other way, were green, instead of brown like mine.

“Man,” I thought, “That girl really knows how to dress.”

It was one of those elevators that only goes to the upper floors of a building. It skips 1-18 and stops exclusively on 19-31. Going down, while you’re speeding through the last 18 floors, the little floor counter, instead of counting them down, just says “X.” I privately think of this time–no more than ten seconds at most–as The “X” Zone. It’s a time of gathering oneself, buttoning the coat, tossing the hair, hoisting the bag upon the shoulder, preparing to exit the elevator with purposeful momentum, to the street, to the subway, to the rest of our lives!

I had been to this building many times before and spent that ten seconds many different ways. Once, silently promising myself I would never, ever have children while a toddler howled and drooled. Once, thinking gleefully of all the ways to spectacularly waste the money I had just made. Once, reliving ten seconds of beautifully sordid escapades long gone but not forgotten. Once thinking, I will never, ever drink again, or at least not as much on a night before I have to work. Once, entertaining some ridiculous daydream of unchallenged power and glory. Once thinking, that guy at the front desk is really, really cute. I wonder, if we were to have a brief and passionate affair, if there might be utility closets in this building in which we could have sex. Thinking, is that the most common sexual fantasy, sex in a utility closet in the workplace? It’s got to be one of the top five most common sexual fantasies. Thinking, boredom and sex, capitalism and sex, sex and sex, is there anything there? Maybe. Thinking, I am young, this is my youth, one day I’ll be old, one day I’ll be dead. Nothing really matters, me and the guy at the front desk should have sex in a utility closet today. Thinking, I am running late, so very late, please don’t let that toddler push all the buttons at once.

Never before had I spent the ten seconds of The “X” Zone thinking, “It turns out there are two of me.”

The elevator began its barely perceptible deceleration as we neared the ground floor. My internal organs registered that strange antigravity that precedes the opening of elevator doors. The two of us in the elevator tossed our masses of messy hair. We pulled our black, furry jackets tight around our shoulders.

“I like your coat,” said my Doppelganger.

“I like your coat, too,” I replied.

We walked out into the night. I went south. She went north. In all likelihood we’d never meet again.

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