All day Sunday, following the meeting with Sandy and Cathy, Barbara thought about what she was doing and the ramifications. She didn’t think it illegal to take on someone else’s identity, but she wasn’t sure.
She had told no one of her plans to impersonate the other Barbara, and really she didn’t know what she expected to get out of it other than a ready made family. Well that was a huge thing wasn’t it? And if she convinced Sandy she would then have to convince the rest of the family who might not be as ready to believe as Sandy. She decided to sleep on it and think it through tomorrow.
But on waking the next morning she was no closer to making sense of what she had started. She wished she hadn’t sent that original email and wished she could take it back.
She turned on her computer as she was having breakfast and she saw there was an incoming email. It was from Sandy and she asked questions that Barbara feared. She didn’t know the answers. Oh, she could make up stuff about growing up but of course, there were other family members who could be traced easily. Oh what had she got herself into? And how to get out of it? Why had she ever started to convince somebody that she was somebody else?
She could just refuse to answer the email and turn her back on Sandy and her friend Cathy. Or she could make up the answers to the questions. But what if Sandy decided to come in to see her at her rooms or worse still, at the office. Then the game would really be up. The name on the flat/rooms was hers not the other Barbara’s and at the office of course, they knew that the other Barbara had died.
She hadn’t thought where this thing was leading when she sent the original email. And was she really being fair to Sandy? She realised after meeting her, that she had opened some old wounds and they wouldn’t close easily. Sandy had kept this secret for many years and now at least one other person knew of it. And no doubt, Sandy’s son had been informed and how was he reacting?
As she got ready for work she pondered on the problem. She didn’t know who to talk to about it. There was a young man with whom she had lunch on occasion and so she decided to talk to him about it today. She copied the emails and as soon as she arrived at work she called him and arranged to meet him at one o’clock.
All morning while trying to work her mind, kept going over and over what she had done and how was she going to handle it. One o’clock eventually came round and she was now worried at how her friend, James, would react to what she had to say.
Greeting her with a smile and a friendly wave, James was already seated in the café when she arrived. “You don’t look very happy.” he said. “Is something wrong?” Barbara suddenly found herself crying and blurting out the problem to James. He put his arm around her and tried to comfort her.
“Let’s order coffee and something to eat. You’ll feel better when you have some food inside you.” was his advice. “ I suppose you haven’t eaten anything at all today”
So with the food ordered and the coffees in front of them, he asked her to go over the whole thing from the beginning.
“Well, you’ve got yourself into a bit of a mess haven’ you?” and “How are we going to get you out of it?” he said.
Barbara was pleased to hear him ask that. She felt that with his help she could put this right or if not right, make some amends.
The food came and they spent the next few minutes eating; the only conversation was about the food. “This is good” and “How’s yours?”
“So now let’s look at what you’ve done” said James. “You’ve sent an email purporting to be somebody else. You’ve met with the woman once in the role of this other Barbara, but I don’t think you have done anything illegal. It’s not a very good thing to do, and it’s not particularly honest and the impact on this woman, Sandy has been great. But you can get out of it.”
“How” she asked.
“Well, the options are, do nothing and hope that Sandy leaves it at that and doesn’t try to find you. Though I think that’s unlikely from reading the emails. She seems to be very keen for you to be her long lost daughter.”
“And the other option?” she asked.
“Well that is you send her another email saying that you made a mistake. You are not her daughter and you are sorry for any hurt you caused. You didn’t intend to hurt anybody and you hope that she is successful in finding her real daughter. Or words to that effect. It’s not going to be easy but I think this is the least you can do. You might want to tell another lie and say that you have been looking for your birth mother through several avenues and have now connected with your birth mother after all”. James sat back and finished his lunch.
Barbara thought about what he had said and realised that the second option was the only one that would allow her to get out of the situation she had created. It wouldn’t be easy but it would be the only honest thing to do.
Thanking him for listening and understanding she left James at the end of lunch feeling happier than she had all morning. Now she knew what she had to do. She would spend some time thinking of the words to use in an email to Sandy.
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself
you cannot tell it about other people.”
― Virginia Woolf