Zero Wives

Maury watched Mary work. He did not make the connection immediately but he felt compelled to keep watching her roll the dough. She smiled and winked at him while she worked. Then he realized he could see her face. Her work station consisted of a stainless steel table set in the middle of the kitchen with all the toppings held on one side. Normally, Maury was used to seeing her from behind; Mary used her left hand to grab the pizza toppings.

She stood on the other side of the table and used her right hand to cover the pizza with cheese and meat. While Maury wondered what it meant he took a deep breath. He caught a whiff of Mary’s favorite perfume; she only wore it twice a year for Christmas and his birthday. Today was neither of those days.

“Hey, babe?” Maury used the pet name she hated enough to ban its use in their relationship. The petite brunette woman looked up from the pizza and smiled.

“Yeah, honey?” She asked. No playful reprimand. No icy glare; it always went one of two ways whenever he tried it but she never responded ready to listen. Maury walked away from the register and approached the table. They weren’t open yet so he did not worry about the open till; they were the only two in their restaurant that early.

“I feel bad about not listening more a couple of nights ago,” he lied. He had been attentive and concerned enough to encourage Mary to file a report with the police. She chalked it up to her overactive imagination and wanted to put it behind her. “I’m ready to listen now if you want to talk about it.”  Maury paused for a moment to enjoy the confusion that flashed on the woman’s face; he knew she wasn’t his wife. “You know, when you told me you were followed,” he said. Then he looked her right in the eyes and raised an eyebrow.

“Shit,” she cursed and raised both hands above her head as if he were mugging her. “She’s safe, I promise!” the faux-Mary said immediately. She was aware of the number of sharp objects in the kitchen and wanted to keep him calm. She breathed a bit easier when it worked. Maury nodded, took a step back, and crossed his arms. “What gave me away?” she asked. She dropped her arms part-way then raised them back to ask permission. Maury nodded and she dropped her arms completely.

“Just the fact that you’re not her at all. Explain before I end up going to prison for killing my…,” he glared at her with hard eyes. “…wife.

“A few days ago I ended up in this universe.” Maury’s eyes went wide but the unknown woman kept talking. “That’s a boring story but the important part is I found out about Mary. Your Mary, I’m Marianne by the way.” Maury shrugged. I followed her that night to see where she lived, and I was there the next morning when she left. When she saw I looked exactly like her we started talking about our lives.” Marianne smacked her forehead with her right palm. “She’s left-handed!” she realized. Maury chuckled.

“Among other things,” he added. The last thing he wanted was to tell her how to imitate his wife better. Marianne nodded.

“Anyway the short version is we thought it’d be fun to swap and see if our spouses could tell. I guess you won.”

“Well when is she coming back? Is yours me too?” Marianne burst into a fit of giggles.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure she’s a version you.”

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