Inspired by the following Decamot items: plate, Nicole, train, baker, classroom, East Coast, front garden, nail polish, Taj Mahal, wrapping paper
Nicole and Emily Hudson were identical twins whose parents decided to dress them in identical clothes from day one. As you might expect, their mother Angela could usually tell them apart but Peter Hudson their Dad, who earned his living as a baker, struggled at times. It wasn’t until they came to move from primary to secondary school that Peter and Angela decided the time was right to offer the girls a chance of pursuing separate identities. Neither parent really considered the emotional impact this simple choice might have on their offspring nor could they have foreseen the drama that lay ahead.
Nicole had always been the more extravert but, academically, there was very little to tell them apart in the classroom at primary school. Both attained equal marks in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science but in the Foundation Subjects of design technology, history, computing, geography, music art, PE and Personal, Social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE) Emily preferred technology and computing whereas Nicole was more at home with geography, music and art.
Secondary education brought new challenges, but they were both happy with their choice to keep their outward and visible appearances identical. After all, Purley County High School for girls had a strict uniform policy which meant it was easier to conform than create superficial differences. Purley County was also the springboard to university which the sisters argued would be the best time and place of finally splitting, metaphorically, and going their separate ways.
Their parents were delighted with their daughters’ choice and proudly waved them off every morning as they headed out of their front garden en route to board a train for school. Blessed with stunning good looks including shoulder length wavy blond hair, the twins made an instant impression with all their new schoolmates.
They were placed in the same class for their first academic year much to the chagrin of Phillipa Gregory, their form mistress, who could not tell them apart.
What became more difficult as time went on was the pressure on them to achieve comparable academic results when the sisters knew full well that they were developing very different personalities. Emily was the more academic but lacked confidence whereas Nicole struggled with some subjects but was always the life and soul of the party. Nothing seemed to phase her however much she had on her plate. Emily on the other hand was a born worrier who didn’t take risks unless she had worked out the odds in advance.
Both secretly dreamed that one day they would sit on the famous bench in front of the Taj Mahal with their Prince Charming, posing for the world’s Press, but neither had formulated a definite plan to achieve it although both were romantics at heart. As they sat together one Sunday morning applying their shared O-P-I pink nail polish, Nicole floated an idea that had been going through her mind for some time.
“Emsie …. sweetie ……” she began
Emily smiled as she waited for the favour to be articulated. She could read her sister like a book.
“I really need good grades in my A level subjects if I am to get to Cambridge. I’m confident of most but History of Art is my weakest. Could you take it for me?”
“What!” replied Emily. “You want me to pretend to be you – I’m not even sitting that subject!”
“I know but you could easily cram for a month and do better than me – who would know?”
Emily thought for a while.
At first, she was horrified at the deception but, after a while, she began to warm to the idea; after all, if she failed to achieve the triple A Nicole was after only Nicole would suffer. She would give it her best shot of course but …. Why not? … she might even enjoy the shot of adrenaline such a scam might bring!
Then another thought came to her.
“If I take this on” she said to Nicole “would you do something for me in return?”
“You bet” said Nicole “What did you have in mind?”
“I’ve failed my driving test twice now through nerves on the day mainly – you know, and I know, that I am at least as good as most people out there but, failing a third time would be tiresome to say the very least. What do you think?”
Nicole had passed her driving test at the first attempt but still had some reservations.
“But what if I had a freaky run and failed?” she said
“The same applies to me Nicky - I would do my best to get a triple A in History of Art for you but there is no guarantee the examiners will concur with my dissertation”
The two sisters looked at each other for several minutes with smiles getting wider by the second culminating in near hysterical laughter and a spontaneous high five.
“It’s a deal!”
Both agreed that here was a birthday gift that was so unique it didn’t need wrapping paper!
All went according to plan.
Nicole secured a place at Clare College Cambridge and quickly got involved with the famous footlights club whilst Emily obtained a full driving licence and a place as an undergraduate intern with a firm of hedge fund managers linked to a high flier’s sandwich course at Harvard sponsored by Bloomberg.
It was at Bloomberg’s she met her first ever real love – Marty Johnson from Illinois who took her under his wing as section head dealing with global cryptocurrencies. The 25-year-old maths graduate was everything a budding princess might look for in her Prince charming; tall, dark-haired, elegant, well-spoken and erudite, “especially for a Yank!” said Emily, tongue firmly in her cheek when she first told her sister all about him.
“When can I meet this Adonis?” asked Nicole with a twinkle in her eye not expecting her sister’s enthusiastic response.
“He is coming tonight to pick me up, we are going up to Southwold for the weekend”
“On the East Coast?” said Nicole, adding teasingly “of Great Britain?”
“I know what you are thinking” said Emily, laughing “But even my bonus acquired brand-new BMW 1 Series 5-door sports hatch back isn’t capable of transatlantic flight!”
“So, what does Superman drive?” said Nicole, continuing the teasing.
“He doesn’t have a car or even a driving licence. He can’t see the point when he spends most of his time in either New York or London where cabs or Ubers are everywhere”
Their conversation was interrupted by the door bell which prompted Emily to disappear into the bathroom with a shout over her shoulder to her sister … “show him into the kitchen - I’ll only be a couple of minutes!” Nicole opened the door to be faced with a vision in dapper grey – every inch the superhero described by her sister, not a hair out of place and bursting with sexual energy.
“Ems! Your look wonderful! This is for you!”
He produced an exquisite red rose from behind his back, threw his arms around her, and gave her mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Breaking away ever so slightly reluctantly, Nicole called out to her sister “Its Marty, Ems! We are in the kitchen”
Marty Johnson was completely at a loss to understand what the hell was going on, blushed to the bottom of his Oliver Sweeney Buxhall Black brogues, just managing to regain his composure when Emily came bouncing in.
“Ah! Marty, I see you have met my twin sister. It’s a bit late for formal introductions but – Nicole this is Marty – Marty this is Nicole!”
Later, as Nicole waved them off, she was overwhelmed by a mixture of guilt and envy which made for a heady brew of emotional turmoil.
The feeling returned two days later when she picked up a call on her mobile from Marty.
“Nicole? Is that you?”
“Yes, it is – you sound stressed Marty, is everything alright?”
“We’ve been involved in an accident – no one is seriously hurt but Emily will need to stay in Addenbrooke's Hospital overnight as a precaution – she has suspected concussion. I thought I should let you know as soon as possible”
“Thanks for calling, Marty – are you sure that Ems will be alright? I hope you are telling me the truth, she is very dear to me – my very best friend as well as my sister?”
“Yes, yes, she will be fine although the car is a technical write off apparently. Quite honestly, I found the experience of being a passenger very scary – I don’t know who taught Ems to drive but she really ought to have some refresher lessons. I’m sorry, I don’t want to talk out of turn but … well, as I say, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news”
Two days later, Nicole drove her modest Daihatsu Materia up to Cambridge and picked up her sister and Marty who had kept a bedside vigil in the interim. Apart from an obvious black eye, Emily was clearly recovered enough to enjoy the journey home in the company of the two people she adored most in the world. Nicole drove cautiously but confidently and noticed how relaxed Marty was in the circumstances. She was also aware of her growing attraction to the sensitive quietly spoken American.
Having dropped Marty off in Primrose Hill the sisters continued their journey home in contemplative mood both conscious that they needed to tackle the two elephants now making their appearance in the room. Emily was the first to break the silence.
“I’m sorry to have put you through all this Nicky – the accident was all my fault – I just don’t have your confidence when it comes to driving. I didn’t tell Marty about our deal of course but he was clearly frightened by the experience of being my passenger. He is such a sweetie, isn’t he?”
“Yes, he is” said Nicole biting her lip. “In truth I think I am falling in love with him which is a complication we can both do without!”
The sisters threw their arms around each other and spent 20 minutes in a mutual hug sobbing quietly until they both came to an agreed course of action. A fresh start was called for.
Emily broke it off with Marty who was devastated but understanding. Nicole went back to Clare College and concentrated on her studies. She got more and more involved in the Footlights Review where she was becoming a leading light of the troupe which went on to perform at Edinburgh the following year.
Marty Johnson took a week out and went back to Illinois for some gentle R&R in the company of Rupert Johnson, his identical twin brother.