I just passed myself gliding by in a black gondola.

The unimaginable has happened. I, Carla Adelasia Menotti, just encountered an identical Carla Adelasia Menotti, smiling menacingly at me from a black-draped gondola. She was not l’imitatore, the impersonator who has become famous for imitating me. She was not an adoring fan dressed up as me. She was – and I do not and cannot lie – me. I was close enough to touch her. When our boats were side by side, she lunged for me, but I drew away in horror. If she ever succeeds in touching me, I am fini.

As soon as she passed us, I start with the questions. “Did you see her?” I ask my gondolier Marco, a family friend who doubles as my bodyguard. He looks at me in surprise. “I saw nothing,” he insists. “Who wants me dead?” “No one, signora. You are beloved by the world.” He has been trained to flatter me, but this time I want the truth. “Perhaps that evil man, my husband? He has always been jealous of my popularity. Perhaps he wants the fame for himself.” “He is devoted to you. As we all are, bella.” Sometimes Marco is too familiar, but right now I could use a little adoration. I give him a radiant smile.

I relax a little, trailing my slim, elegant fingers in the water. We’re on our way to a private film screening. Everyone who matters will be there. As always, I will be the unsurpassed star. Perhaps I’m just a bit nervous, imagining things. That gondola – it didn’t exist, did it? I look up and down the canal and see nothing but the usual tourists and city travelers. I breathe a sigh of relief. We’re almost to the landing. Then, from nowhere, a splashing of oars, my own throaty laugh.

“Holy Mother of God! Faster, Marco, faster!” He tries, but cannot escape the black spectre, my dark twin. The funeral-draped gondola is inches away.

Carla Adelasia Menotti leans forward to touch me. “Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli,” I pray frantically, pleading.

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David Ross
David Ross (@david-ross)
1 month ago

The final lines (“Then, from nowhere…”) spur the imagination and abruptly refigure the narrator, intimating a person deeper than the public personality. Does death restore us to ourselves and thus arrive in the guise of the self? 

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills-2)
1 month ago

Wow! I absolutely loved this tale of the adored diva who will succumb to herself. One wonders if the doppelganger exists or it’s just her fame about to devour her. Her final prayer is a touch of genius. Will it be answered?

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills-2)
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuji

Lo sentira’ Fuji! After all God invented languages after the Babel tower right?

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Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
1 month ago

A powerful story, Fuji. Like Greene, I wondered if the doppelganger was really there or just her own fears. Perhaps she will be fini, or maybe she will learn a lesson in humility. Well done 🙂

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
1 month ago

As always a thoroughly and masterfully executed story by your hand, Fuji. The ambiance of the Venetian setting, the Italian Bible quotations and the successful star with her thoughts are all there, so well pictured. I also love it that you leave the outcome and explanation of the situation to the reader’s imagination. It’s kind of Hitchcock-ish.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuji

After I wrote my comment to you, Fuji, I saw a quotation by Alfred Hitchchock that you might enjoy too. He said: “There is no terror in the bang. Only in the anticipation of it.”

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Clare Marsh
Clare Marsh (@clare-marsh)
1 month ago

I thought that first sentence was absolutely gripping – the diva seeing her own funeral. I also got the reference to that haunting story and film ‘Don’t Look Now’. When I finally travelled to Venice I saw so many sinister corners and hints at long buried or drowned secrets that reminded me of them. You really nailed the atmosphere!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

Like Greene and Sandra, I also wonder if there really is a doppelganger or is she just having an illusion of fear. But whatever the answer is, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that she did not forget to pray and ask for God’s help. That’s wonderful. Good job.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuji

You’re welcome, Fuji.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 month ago

What a cliffhanger this is Fuji. I would absolutely love to know what happens nest. Great atmosphere and pacing throughout, I particularly love that moment of apparent calm, just before it picks up for the finale. Well done.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 month ago

Congratulations Fuji, great story.

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse (@marianna-pieterse)
1 month ago

Congratulations, Fuji! This is so scary. It leaves so many questions.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
1 month ago

Congratulations Fuji. A gripping story and I love how you leave so much to our imagination.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

Congratulations on your win, Fuji.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuji

You’re welcome.

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills-2)
1 month ago

Well done Fuji! I am thrilled for you and it’s truly deserved so many congratulations!

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