Impostor Syndrome 1

Impostor Syndrome
By Vilastis

Who's the impostor, and who is real? I dunno either, man.

***

William was freaking out. He had told—had swore up and down, in fact—that he had a girlfriend. Of course they could meet her. It’s just that, you know… she lived kind of far… he wouldn’t want to inconvenience her…

Shit, what was he going to do? It’s not like he had a lot of female friends… or, like, any. And he wasn’t going to ask his sister, that’s disgusting. Seriously. What’s wrong with you that you would even ask that question.

The best option seemed like: A. show them pictures of a random girl off the internet or B. hire like a prostitute or an escort. The problem with the first one is that he could never actually produce her, and the problem with the second was that he was pretty certain that was illegal and really didn’t want to go to jail. He could also claim she was too shy to want to meet them—but that would sound ridiculous given all the details he had already given them about how she was fun-loving and outgoing. You know, the perfect girl. Or he could actually try to find someone to date—haha, right, like that was gonna happen.

So, this was what he was driven to in desperation, he thought as he stared in the mirror, trying to scrape every last hair off his legs. The blonde wig sat in the corner, a relic of when his mom actually bothered to wear Halloween costumes. There was absolutely no way this was going to work.

***

“Hi, I’m Shannon!” the girl greeted the group of slightly geeky guys, beaming a fake smile. “It’s nice to finally meet you all! Will talks about you so much.” It’s really too bad he couldn’t be here.” Yeah, some bad fucking luck, William muttered in the back of his mind. Eddy—a slightly chubby Asian guy with thick square glasses—gasped, his jaw dropping open. David, gawkily thin with hair that was either red or brown depending on the light, elbowed Eddy, their eyes silently but transparently communicating Wow, we really underestimated that dude. Despite the indignity he was enduring, William felt a stab of triumph.

“I, I didn’t realize you were Asian too,” Eddy stammered. “I just assumed, um, when he said you were blonde...”

“Don’t sweat it!” Shannon interjected perkily. “I’m, like, barely Asian anyway.” She giggled. “I can barely even use chopsticks.”

“Oh, I know,” Eddy said, feeling an instant connection. “I swear all my white friends are better than me.”

“How did you two meet?” David asked incredulously.

“Oh, um, he was in one of my classes last semester.” All of the guys nodded, silently—and let’s be honest, a little offensively—assuming it was a breadth class, rather than a Physics requirement.

There was a brief awkward silence. “We should hang out some time,” Eddy said, less nervous now that he could see her as a real person. How ironic.

***

Shannon strode away from the huddle of guys, trying not to break character until she was out of eyeshot. I can’t believe that actually kind of worked. No, it totally worked! Just then, she heard a hubbub from behind.

Pausing momentarily, she was about to resume walking when she heard excited cries coming the guys.

“Hey, dude! I thought you said you couldn’t make it!”

More quietly: “I can’t believe you’re dating her!

She spun around, to see nothing other than… HIMSELF, exchanging high fives with his friends. She felt her knees starting to bend below her, just before everything went to black.

***

Shannon slowly opened her eyes to see a concerned face swimming into view before her. A familiar face. Her face.

“Hey, you okay babe?” Will asked gingerly. She blinked up at him. So. Confused. “Have you not been eating enough again?” He looked over to his friends, who were hovering around in concern. “I always tell her her figure is PERFECT as it is, but she never listens to me. Maybe if she heard it from someone—”

Shannon interrupted. “What the hell do you mean my figure is perfect? I have the exact same curves that you do.” She was still extremely confused.

Will shook his head in exasperation, simultaneously fond and irritated. “Let’s not go through this whole thing again.”

She realized that someone had moved her to a wooden bench near where they had been standing. If you looked closely there was a small metal plaque that read H. Paul Grice. Whoever the hell that was. Will backed away as she turned to push herself upright. She straightened her skirt a little under her. “Will” must not have been to careful putting her down.

Next order of business, figuring out who this fake “Will” was. And quick, she thought as he sat down on the bench and draped an arm casually around her. She instinctively went to push it away but thought better of it. And to do it without letting my friends know I tricked them.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” “Will” pestered. What an overbearing asshole. Am I actually like that? Shannon wondered for a moment before dismissing the thought as meaningless. It’s not like this… thing was actually her, just an impostor. She glared at his face for a moment. A really good impostor.

As he stared at her impatiently, she finally remembered that he had asked a question. Perfect. She tried to compose her face. “I’m feeling a LITTLE better, but I think I’d like to go home.”

The friends made various awwing noises. Will stood up. “Okay, sorry guys, I think we better go.” He turned to Shannon. “I better walk you home.” Yes! She internally pumped her fist. Finally she’d get a chance to figure out just what the hell was going on.

The two walked together, unspoken, in the direction of William’s apartment. Once they had rounded the corner, safely out of earshot of the group, Will turned to her, his face cold, in stark contrast to his expression just moments earlier. “Just who the hell are you and why are you pretending to be my girlfriend?

***



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This story is 1062 words long.