You Were: The Decoy

August 6, 2010

Most of us take it for granted that our physical appearance is completely unique—that the face we see in the mirror could only belong to a single person on earth. This, I must report, is rarely the case. We all have a double (or two) walking the planet. (Quick side note: My own mother swears she once saw mine on a PBS show about Iceland.)

We rarely meet our doubles face to face. (Although we may glimpse them from time to time. When we do, they’re called doppelgangers.) But some people are born with famous faces. And that, of course, changes everything.

You were the daughter of an Egyptian fisherman, and you spent much of your childhood on a papyrus boat that your father had built with his own two hands. One afternoon shortly after your fourteenth birthday, you were hauling in a net filled with flailing moonfish when a royal barge appeared beside your boat. Two men dragged you punching and cursing into their vessel. Before your father had a chance to join the fight, you and your captors were already gone.

Growing up in a hut on the shores of the Nile, you had never imagined a city like Alexandria, with its ship-filled harbor, multi-colored temples, and countless sphinxes all waiting to pounce. And the palace you visited there was unlike any structure you’d ever seen. The ceilings were so high that they might have held the heavens. Secrets and stories were written on the walls. Stone pharaohs and granite gods watched each visitor’s every move.

You were guided to a sumptuous chamber where the furnishings glittered like gold. (Because, you later learned, they were gold.) The men pushed you inside and closed the doors as they left. It was then that you realized a girl was watching you. A girl your height and your age. When she came to inspect you, you realized you and she were completely identical.

Cleopatra wasn’t a great beauty, but she was smart, with a mischievous mind and a wicked sense of humor. She was also rich, possibly royal, but she seemed like an ordinary girl to you. You had no way of knowing that she would eventually become most important and powerful woman in the ancient world.

That evening, you were dressed in stunning robes. Your arms laden with golden jewelry and a magnificent crown on your head, you were paraded through the streets of Alexandria. Crowds gathered to see you. It was all great fun until a man standing by the side of the road pulled a knife from his belt and sent it flying in your direction. That was when you knew: You had become Cleopatra’s political decoy.

It wasn’t such a bad life. You loved your boss like a sister, and the two of you led almost identical lives. You ate all the best foods. You had your own servants and slaves. You were even taught by the very same tutors. By the time Cleopatra became queen, you could both speak seven languages and you later co-authored books on cosmetics and gynecology. As far as you were concerned, few knives thrown at your head was a fairly small price to pay to live like a queen.

Then everything went wrong. Cleopatra had gone to war with the Roman emperor. And she had lost. All hope was gone. She would be humiliated by the Emperor Augustus—presented to Rome as a human trophy. She was resigned to her fate, but you couldn’t allow that to happen.

You instructed Cleopatra’s handmaidens to prepare for a secret journey. You knew Cleopatra would never consent to being smuggled out of the city, so you drugged her and had her body hidden inside a trunk. Then you went to her chambers with a basket in one hand.

Once you were dressed in the Queen’s most magnificent finery, you opened the lid of the basket and let the snake inside slither out. When they found your regal corpse, no one ever imagined that it didn’t belong to Cleopatra herself.


3 Responses to “You Were: The Decoy”

  1. Jean Says:

    I love that one 😀 So intriguing!

    Can I please submit my picture? And my name is Jean, and I’m 15 ^____^

  2. Chloe Says:

    Hello! I sent in a “Who was I?” email on August 5th but I don’t see mine. If you had trouble viewing the picture, i could try to send it again?
    Anyway, Congratulations on the publishing of The Eternal Ones!

  3. Chloe,

    Thank you! I’m pretty sure I got your email. We just have a little bit of a wait at the moment. Stay tuned, though, and I promise I’ll get to you soon!


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