It’s the love triangle that so many romantic comedies' plots follow: main character has a crush on a quirky yet lovable guy, and that guy falls for the best friend instead. Except, in this case, the crush fell for my twin sister.
I met Ryan* at a coffee shop where he often lurked to read a book or study for classes. It had to be fate — the way her always happened to show up at the same time and ordered the same kind of coffee: Americano. The only difference was that I took a pump of vanilla in mine, and he took his with a splash of creamer.
I knew the way he took his coffee.
Instead of drawing or doing anything productive myself, I stared at the graceful way his neck craned over his work and how he looked thoughtfully into nowhere as his brilliant mind worked. I watched the way a strand of his slicked-back brown hair had this habit of falling into his eyes when he adjusted his hair in frustration.
I was crushing so hard, I even started putting creamer in my Americano.
I had to talk to someone about him ASAP. Naturally, that was my twin sister Sophie*. She was gregarious, a natural-born flirt, and basically the best person ever. Sophie knew things, like when people would call or where to find your keys when you lost them. But Sophie couldn’t know that Ryan was meant for her instead of me.
She did have great solutions, though: Just sit next to his usual spot. Drop something. Steal his coffee if you have to!
Sophie didn’t know how he took his coffee.
So, I did it. I stole his coffee, and when we sorted out the “mistake,” I drew a cartoon version of him on his cup so we could tell the difference. He thought I was clever (I was clever, YES!), and we started talking.
Turns out, he was studying film. This artsy, dreamy man was too perfect. Ryan had this slight lisp that made him sound eccentric, almost foreign. For a few precious weeks, we tried on a relationship. I fancied myself as a doodler, and Ryan saw me as this artist who could share his vision in film. We had deep philosophical conversations. We went to the movies. He knew how I took my coffee.
Of course, I talked up Sophie. She was in graduate school for museum studies, and brilliant. I told him embarrassing childhood stories and about how Sophie was always there for me.
I had to mention that we’re monozygotic, which means we’re identical twins. We look exactly alike. Our parents made us wear matching clothes growing up. We held hands at the bus stop. We shared dolls and the same imaginary worlds. She loved pop while I loved rock. Sophie was a talker, and I was shy.
The time came to invite Ryan to meet my parents for dinner, and they loved him. He started coming over to hang out with the family regularly. It was working out so well, until I realized that Ryan was falling for my twin sister instead of me. She was the flame, and Ryan was the moth. He found excuses to be around her, and Sophie came up more in conversation.
Honestly, I knew it before he did, and so did Sophie.
I didn’t hate Sophie because of his feelings, but I needed to know if she felt the same. So, I brought it up, and Sophie spent hours crying over it. For the longest time, Sophie did the right thing and stayed away, because that’s who she is.
They had an obvious chemistry that Ryan and I didn’t have from the start. At first I envied that of Sophie and chalked it up to her being a natural flirt. She couldn’t help her natural magnetism. It wasn’t like she was trying to steal him. But it haunted me — that Sophie and I were twins, so it couldn’t be based on looks. So, what was the thing that Sophie had that I didn’t have?
It was more about what Ryan and I couldn't have. The way he chewed got annoying. The way he greased his hair and talked about film seemed obnoxious sometimes. I noticed how his kiss never made me feel butterflies, even though he was attractive.
I watched Sophie and Ryan together, and I could tell that she was falling, too. Her cheeks flushed. Her whole body laughed when he made a joke. Ryan could tell when Sophie was off and tried to make her laugh. None of her prior boyfriends had ever understood that about her.
Nothing ever happened. They were both respectful.
But I couldn’t take it anymore. When Ryan was over for the first Thanksgiving we spent together, it was too painful because it was too fake. So, I pulled Ryan aside after dinner, and I ended it. I told him that I could see he was falling for Sophie, and that it didn’t bother me. It was obvious that they felt something special between the two of them.
Ryan left, and Sophie was distant when I talked to her — I think that she thought it was her fault for the longest time. Weeks passed.
Finally, Ryan called Sophie.
They didn’t go for coffee. They went for barbecue, of all things. Sophie became the shy one, and I became the talker, smoothing over the rough edges. It took months for Sophie to accept that I was actually, truthfully OK with everything. Ryan and I weren’t a fit. It was like kissing my brother.
And my old heartthrob became my brother-in-law. Ryan married Sophie earlier this year.
It’s definitely been a whirlwind romance, especially for Sophie, who never thought she’d get married. It was always me who dreamed of the swishy white dress and Prince Charming. But life never happens the way you expect it to, and I’m happy to be part of the story of my sister finding happiness.