My Dear Strangers,
A new door appeared in my house. It is located in the unoccupied bedroom on the second floor, and I have confirmed—by studying photos from my realtor—that the door did not exist when I purchased my brownstone in January.
The room’s wall is plastered brick, the doorframe is painted white, and the door itself is roughhewn wood of an unknown species. The wood smells of quality incense, the way a temple door would smell after decades of worship.
Using the black iron ring pull, I opened the door toward me and jumped backward at the sight of my own reflection.
My reflection jumped, too, but not with mirrored symmetry.
I stared at myself, my self stared back, and then the two of us seemed to realize there were two of us indeed. There was no mirror and no reflection. The doorway divided identical rooms that each contained me.
Was he another William or was I another William? Judging by his fascinated squint—an expression I knew well—the other William appeared to be puzzling over the same perspectival conundrum.
Had I summoned him by opening the door, or had he summoned me by opening a door in his own identical brownstone? Twice we started to talk at precisely the same moment, then stopped to listen when we realized the other was preparing to speak.
I intuitively knew we couldn’t cross the threshold; he would stay there and I would stay here. The other William seemed to understand this, too, and made no attempt to enter my room.
Since neither of us was prepared for the metaphysical implications of our encounter, we eventually stepped forward—warily maintaining eye contact—and simultaneously closed our respective doors.
Wonderstruck and troubled, I returned to my bedroom to discuss my experience with June, the ghost who inhabits my bedroom. She was nowhere to be found. I wrote, “I need you,” on my perpetually foggy window and hoped she’d seek me out as soon as she returned.
Then I took a mug of coffee to my study and read about doppelgängers, feeling more and less alone than I have felt in many weeks.