When Your Doppelgänger Dies

Loren Kantor
6 min readApr 1
The Meeting of Dante & Beatrice in Paradise painted by Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

I met Aaron in the third grade. We were playing dodge ball at school when I noticed a frail, mousy kid cowering behind Jenny Lichtman. He looked just like me. He had my dirty brown hair, big Jewish schnoz and ever-present squint as if life was too much too handle with open eyes.

I felt an immediate revulsion. I lifted the red rubber ball and hurled it toward him striking him in the face. He yelped like a wounded dog. The incident produced a small scar on his upper lip. I ran back to class, aware my childhood would never be the same.

Aaron and I did our best to avoid each other. We sat on opposite sides of the classroom and chose different friends. During the bus ride home, he sat in front while I sat in back. We lived two blocks from each other but I made sure to exit one bus stop after him even though it meant a half-mile walk home.

We were both victims of the same schoolyard bully. This pushed us further apart. On days when Aaron was chosen for a beating, I secretly aligned with the bully, satisfied my evil twin was being punished for living in my orbit. Once when the bully pummeled me so bad I could barely breathe, I noticed a thin smile on Aaron’s lips, proof he hated me as well.

Kids often asked if Aaron and I were brothers. I feigned ignorance, claiming not to know who he was. During a basketball game, an opponent innocently called me Aaron. I intentionally pushed the boy into a pole. If only I could’ve channeled this anger toward the bully. Instead, I blamed Aaron for all my childhood pain. I saw in him a living, breathing embodiment of everything I despised… namely myself.

Aaron and I shadowed each other through grammar school, junior high and high school. I went to college while Aaron found a job at an auto repair shop. We avoided neighborhood gatherings and parties where we might come into contact with each other.

In my late 20s, I hit a rough patch and moved back home with my parents. This brought me back to my childhood neighborhood. It didn’t take long to see Aaron again. I was watering plants in the front yard when a beaten, turquoise Dodge Dart drove past. Aaron was at the wheel. He looked older but still resembled me to an extent. We locked eyes. His mouth opened and he nearly swerved into a garbage can. He pressed on the gas…

Loren Kantor

Loren is a writer and woodcut artist based in Los Angeles. He teaches printmaking and creative writing to kids and adults.