A woman mourned her husband’s death and years later, she sees a man who looks so much like her husband. She follows him to find out the truth.
“I need more sleep,” Debbie murmured when her phone rang that morning at 10.
She was a nurse and had been on the nightmarish night shift. She arrived home earlier that morning, tired, and her husband, as usual, had been the one to pick up her things as she discarded them and fell into bed.
When she picked up the call, the voice on the other end had grave news that cleared the sleep from her overworked brain. Her husband was in a car crash, and she needed to be at the hospital to identify what was left of his body.
Debbie raced to get there, her heart in her throat, hoping against all hope that her husband was still breathing. She identified his things, but his body had been too badly burned to tell if it was really him.
“How did it happen?” Debbie asked.
“His car crashed into a truck on the highway and it caught fire and exploded because of the ruptured petrol tank,” the coroner told her.
Debbie grew numb as she listened. All she could think about was how she had practically ignored her husband when she arrived home earlier that morning. She’d gotten used to his quiet acceptance of her flaws, but now he was gone, leaving her with their twins, Tiffany and Sanai.
That day, for the first time in more than a year, Debbie picked up her girls from school, and they noticed. “Where’s daddy?” Tiffany asked.
“He won’t be picking you up from school anymore,” Debbie answered.
“You switched roles with him?” Sanai asked.
“No. I have some difficult news to say to you girls…Your father has passed away,” Debbie replied sadly. It was a long drive home for Debbie and her ten-year-old daughters that day.
Two years after the tragic incident, Debbie joined her kids on vacation in Texas. There, they visited the state fair to enjoy the amusing events — there was even a circus with trained animals.
At some point, Tiffany requested some popcorn and got permission from her mother to approach the seller to purchase some.
Debbie had not fully recovered from losing her husband, so she hardly ever let her girls out of sight if she could help it. The widow often got upset if they disappeared without her knowledge, so they knew to ask permission before wandering.
When Tiffany left to get some popcorn, Debbie worked hard to resist the urge to follow her, but the girl was back some moments later with a worried look on her face.
“Honey, what’s wrong? ” Debbie asked.
“I think I just saw dad,” the girl answered, still trying to make sense of her own words.
“That can not be true. I told you that your dad died in a car crash. Is this some sort of prank Tiffany?” Debbie asked angrily.
“I did see him mom, he just didn’t recognize me.”
“Maybe that’s because he does not know you!” Debbie remarked shortly.
“Come on mom, I’ll show you,” Tiffany said and set off, forcing her mom and sister to follow her. She brought them to the popcorn stand where she saw her father, but he was gone.
“He was right here,” she started to say before she heard her mom call her late dad’s name.
“Cornelius?” she called to the handsome man who stood speaking to a cotton candy vendor.
He gave her no reply, and even though he saw her with the kids, there was no spark of recognition in his eyes. Debbie was shocked, and so were her girls. They could not stop gawking at the man who looked so much like their father.
Debbie got her girls tickets to see different shows and told them about her plan to follow the man they’d seen. “Just to make sure,” she assured.
Debbie followed the man to a mansion where another woman, Janet, waited. She was pregnant. Debbie couldn’t believe her eyes, but she quickly left. The rest of her day was a somber one.
“Life is toying with me,” she thought to herself. “It’s not Cornelius. He would remember us.”
The following morning saw Debbie staking out the man’s mansion from inside her car. Janet noticed her, and when her husband left for work, Janet called her.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m just a confused woman who thinks she knows your husband.”
“Are you his concubine?” Janet asked with venom in her voice.
“No, no, I saw him at the fair yesterday and he looked familiar.”
“You recognized him? Where are you from? Janet asked.
“I know this will be hard to believe but your husband looks very much like my dead one. His name was Cornelius,” Debbie said.
“I call him David,” Janet replied. Both women fell silent at that. After a minute, Janet broke the silence.
“Two years ago, I found him near a burning car barely breathing. I pulled him away, just before the car exploded,” she said. “We fell in love and eventually got married.”
“Where was this explosion?” Debbie asked.
“San Francisco,” Janet said.
It was the same place Cornelius had gotten in an accident, and that was all the proof Debbie needed. “It has to be him,” Debbie whispered under her breath.
“What? You think he’s your late husband come back to life?” Janet asked, starting to get upset. “Is he really your husband? I thought the body of the owner of the car was sent to the family.”
Debbie suggested that they ask the man that question, but Janet was done listening. She wanted her gone. But Debbie was not about to leave when she had just found her husband again.
The interaction quickly turned hostile as the two women tried and failed to convince each other whose husband the man truly was.
Eventually, Janet, who knew deep inside the man was Debbie’s husband, decided to take her to his office where he worked as a clerk. She hoped whatever had made him forget his former family would remain in effect.
“If he doesn’t recall you, I want you to get out of town and never bother our family again,” Janet said.
Debbie agreed and went with the girls. Her husband had loved them. If it was truly him, he would not turn away from them again.
But Debbie was wrong. When he saw them, all he did was politely request their names. He ignored Debbie totally, then got on his knees to ask the twins what their names were.
Sanai took that opportunity to touch his face and call him “daddy” — just like she used to when he got on his knees to help her tie her shoelaces in the past. He was usually the one who prepared them for school because Debbie worked late hours.
But suddenlly, at Sanai’s touch, the man appeared startled. He moved back as memory after memory came flooding back. He remembered taking Sanai in his arms, and the last time he held his girls before the accident. Then another memory flashed of him trying to avoid a truck that suddenly stopped moving.
He remembered the last time he saw his wife — Debbie — in bed, snoring away, tired as ever — and he recalled that he had been married to her for years.
“Debbie…” Cornelius recalled her name.
As his memories continued to return to him, he revealed that he had been driving his car that day and had picked up a hitchhiker before the accident. This meant only one thing. The body Debbie thought was her husband’s was the hitchhiker’s. And the man she buried was a total stranger.
“I must have had amnesia…,” Cornelius said, facing Janet, who suddenly burst into a rage, ranting about how he would have died without her help and how he can’t leave her because they were having a baby.
Cornelius tried to calm her down, and thanked her for saving his life. He also promised to be there for her and their unborn child because no child deserved to be abandoned.
But he also told her he would return with Debbie and their children because life had given them an unexpected gift — a chance to be together again.