Originally published in The Shore Magazine (Toronto, 2004) also recorded as a podcast for KQED’s Writers Block.
The tenants avoided Iris and Agnes, the identical twin managers of the West Park Apartments. They didn’t avoid them for the usual reasons. They didn’t avoid them because they were behind on rent or because they had painted the kitchen a very dark shade of green. Although of course some of them had done these things, too.
Instead they avoided Iris and Agnes because it was impossible to tell the two apart. There were rumors that Iris was taller or that Agnes had a mole on her neck. But these claims were never substantiated. The tenants lived in fear of calling one of their landladies by the wrong name. One of the twins became angry if she was called by the wrong name. Most people thought it was Iris who hated to be confused with her sister. But even if the name of the easily angered twin could be confirmed it wouldn’t do much to help. There was still no way to tell the sister with the temper from the one without. The man in 506 had once called Iris “Agnes” and she had erupted into a fury. When he moved out a month later, it was rumored that he had received only half of his deposit back.
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