Mistaken Identity   Leave a comment

Jim picked up the envelope on the door-mat when he came in from his chores in the yard. It was addressed to his twin brother John. He turned it over and examined it. When he held it up near his face, he got a whiff of sweet perfume. Jim looked closer at the writing. It looked very much like Mary Rose’s hand writing. He frowned, and slipped the envelope into his pocket. He climbed the stairs hurriedly, and went into the bedroom to change. Leaning up against the door, Jim took out the envelope and opened it slowly. It was an invitation to Mary Rose’s twenty-first birthday party. Just then he heard John calling him. Jim panicked, put the invitation back into the envelope, and pushed it under some clothes in his closet, and locked the closet. He rushed downstairs and nearly sent John flying in the hallway.

“Sorry,” Jim mumbled, and reddened.

“Where’s the fire?” laughed John.

“I forgot something outside. Tell Mum I’ll be in for dinner in a minute.”

Jim gulped down his dinner, and then excused himself from the table. Mum and John looked at each other in bemusement as Jim disappeared upstairs. Jim turned the closet key gently, felt for the invitation, and pulled it out. He looked around furtively, and then read it properly to remember the details.

Miss Mary Rose Carter and her parents

Cordially invite Mr. John Barrett

To celebrate the 21st Birthday of Mary Rose

On 30th May 1939 at 7pm.



Jim felt like he had been hit in the chest. He had fallen in love with Mary Rose when they first met in kindergarten. She had been fascinated with her and John, as they were identical twins. They might have been identical in looks, but their personalities were completely different. John was outgoing, happy-go-lucky, and naturally charming. Jim was shy, socially awkward, and a worrier. He had never told Mary Rose how he felt about her. She had played with both boys, but had always laughed at John’s jokes, looked to him to rescue her when she got stuck up a tree, or too deep in water. Jim had helped her with her homework, carved wooden animals for her, and would have done anything she had asked of him. But now she had made her choice; she had chosen John over him. Jim wiped away a tear that fell with a soft splash on the invitation. He secreted the invitation back in its hiding-place, and went downstairs with a book.

They all sat around the fire in the parlour, Jim, John, and their mother. The twin’s father had died when the boys were fifteen, leaving them and their mother to run the small farm. Jim also did a bit of carpentry for local people, and John had trained to be an auctioneer. Mum knitted away happily, while John did some paperwork on plots of land to be sold. Jim hid behind his book, trying to forge a plan.

Jim decided that he wouldn’t tell John about the invitation. He knew that John only thought of Mary Rose as a good friend. He couldn’t give up this opportunity, because Mary Rose meant the world to him. He would respond to the invitation and go to the party as John.

On the night of the party Jim had made sure that John was out of the way. He had bought tickets for him and Mum for a show in town, and had said a grateful neighbour had given them to him because of some cupboards he had put up for them. He had said he was too busy to go himself. As soon as they were gone, he dressed up in suit and tie. John had exactly the same outfit because they had bought them together for a family wedding.  People in the family liked to see them dressed the same, just like when they were children.

Mary Rose lived in a big Victorian house on the edge of the village. The front door was open when Jim arrived. Someone took his coat, and he was offered a glass of champagne as he entered the large vestibule. Normally Jim didn’t drink much, usually just a pint of beer or cider. But he felt like a bit of Dutch courage, so he gulped it quickly. Just as he put down the glass Mary Rose appeared, and gave him another glass.

“How lovely to see you! Glad you could come. A pity your brother couldn’t come.”

Jim looked at her with a quizzical look on his face, and it dawned on him that he had been invited after all.

“Oh Jim has taken mum to a show in town. They had the tickets for ages,” Jim lied. He would have to act like John now he thought; after all that is who Mary Rose prefers. After a few glasses of champagne he was mingling with the crowd, telling jokes he had heard John say, and trying to charm Mary Rose. Mary Rose seemed to believe he was John and looked like she was enjoying his company. The party went swimmingly, and as Jim left he even managed to steal a kiss off Mary- Rose. She looked surprised, and blushed.

When he got home his mother and brother had gone to bed. Jim undressed quickly in the dark trying not to wake John. He stuffed the suit under the bed to be put away the next day. When he woke the next day he had a banging headache from all the champagne. Then he thought about what he had done, and felt ashamed. 

John had already left the house by the time Jim got downstairs. When Jim saw the front door mat he remembered the missing invitation. He lifted the mat and there it was. Jim felt so foolish. The only way out of this mess was to come clean.

After having some breakfast, he walked towards the village. As he turned the bend in the road he saw John and Mary Rose talking. His feet felt like lead as he made his way towards them.

“I can explain……”

“So you kissed Mary Rose, and pretended to be me,” hooted John. “I better leave you two lovebirds together then.”

As John left laughing, Jim hung his head.

“So, I suppose we’re courting now then Jim Barrett,” Jim heard Mary Rose say.

He lifted his head.

“Do you want to? Wouldn’t you rather be with John?”

“John is a dear friend and good for a laugh, but you are deep and mysterious, and I didn’t know how you really felt about me, until now.”


When war broke out later on that year, Jim was glad that he had managed to find love with Mary Rose, as he and John headed off to the unknown.


Posted May 13, 2014 by eileenmoynihan in Uncategorized

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