We’re walking back to Bernice’s house from town when Tina says she can do an impression of me. “We had to do them for drama class. It was this thing at the beginning of class where we all had to choose someone and just imitate them.”
“Oh, wonderful. Why’d you choose me?”
Tina smirks, but it isn’t quite mean. “I just thought you’d be… interesting, I guess.”
“You should do it right now,” Bern says. When she talks her freckles bounce around her face like a bunch of tiny red balloons. “Can you do it while we’re walking?”
“Yeah. You want me to?” Tina turns to me. “Is that okay?”
It’s too hard to pretend I’m not curious. “Sure.”
Bern and I slow down as Tina runs ahead a little and turns around. After a second she brings her finger down from where it had been twisting her hair and rubs it against her nose. The way her clothes sit on her body seems more uncomfortable now, shifting as she slumps over. Tina slowly starts coming back, somehow angling her face so the shape of it is rounder. She’s not holding anything but I can almost see my bag hitting her legs, swinging from her empty hand.
“Diane, she’s so good,” Bern whispers. I hear this but I don’t answer because I’m still watching Tina walking towards us, arms triangular struts rooted in her pockets. She smiles as she glances at a leaf falling, so quickly that if I hadn’t been staring at her I wouldn’t have noticed. “Oh my god. She’s you!”
I try to laugh but I’m starting to realize how serious she is, how she should have stopped a few seconds ago, too shy or too tired. She should be running back to us, giggling and red, but she’s so comfortable that she’s flung off her jacket, dropping it onto the sidewalk like it’s something she’s practiced. She’s becoming me in this way that makes it seem like when she’s alone and when I’m alone we look the same, pulling apart our hair and dangling our feet off the edges of our beds. How I think is moving Tina’s body and when she comes up to Bern and says “So, did you hear about this movie?” with her voice suddenly nervous and deep like it’s falling against the bottom of her throat, I put my hand to my mouth to see if I was the one talking.
Bern is hysterical. “Oh my god. That sounds just like Diane!”
“Okay. Can you stop?”
“Come on. Really? It’s just a joke.” Bern is pouting a little and her lower lip sticks out, pink and shiny. I suddenly want to punch it. “Seriously, it’s no big deal.”
I feel myself shaking and I try to shrug myself away. When I do I see the jacket on the ground, and my clothes seem to fall off of me to join it. Every part of me that’s hidden beneath the things I decide not to say isn’t mine anymore and when my face starts to crush inward, the way the skin feels is Tina’s too. “No, it was great. I loved it.”
Tina speaks too fast. “Really? You did?” There’s something strange about the way she’s looking at me but it’s hard to see anything when you’re trying not to blink.
I say “Yeah” and tug the sleeves of my sweatshirt down around me in a real answer that, for the first time, isn’t just for me.