The Similars (The Similars #1)(10)

This person, this Levi, meets my eyes. His white shirt hangs over his muscular frame. He’s more athletic than Oliver was. Oliver was lean, thin. This boy is sturdy. His body is hard. They are different, and yet, they are so achingly the same.

I stare at his face, and it’s agony, but I can’t look away.

“Don’t tell me,” he says in the British accent that sounds so wrong in his mouth, in Oliver’s mouth. “I look just like him.”


“Your best friend, Oliver. I’m a spitting image, aren’t I?” Levi speaks so casually, it’s as if he doesn’t know how painful his words are. “A dead ringer… Sorry. Slip of the tongue.”

Before I can stop myself, I reach out and slap Levi across Oliver’s face. He stole it, after all. It’s not his. He can’t have it.

In my peripheral vision, I notice that a cluster of our peers has formed around us. I’m not surprised we have an audience. Kids at Darkwood flock to drama like moths to a flame. I don’t know how they found us so quickly, and I don’t care. Something’s overtaken me—fury, or rage, or insanity. In spite of my audience, I lunge at Levi, scratching, pulling, trying to rip his face off. Levi pushes me away, and I stumble back a few feet.

“I hate you,” I spit at him as I stand doubled over, trying to catch my breath. I know the words are juvenile and pathetic, but they’re all I have.

Levi observes me like I’m some kind of specimen. “Do you always make snap judgments about people you’ve just met? Or is it only me?”

“Just you,” I respond, letting my eyes drift to the crowd. I don’t know most of these kids, but I spot Theodora, Maude, and Jago’s faces. I know it’s them and not their originals by the way they dress and by their stern, solemn expressions.

“Levi,” Maude warns, her voice commanding and in control. Levi doesn’t look at her. His stare is glued to me.

“I don’t want to see you,” I finally say.

“So leave.” Levi shrugs. “I doubt anyone would mind.” He gestures to our audience, like they’re welcome to confirm his statement.

“I don’t think you understand me,” I seethe. “You can’t be here. You can’t walk around here with that face. It’s not okay.”

The corners of his mouth turn up. Levi chuckles a little. It’s hard to make sense of how I can simultaneously love and hate one face so much.

“If you’re asking me to wear a ski mask, check the Darkwood handbook,” Levi says. “Page one hundred thirty-seven. Dress Code. Second paragraph, fourth line. Prohibited item number forty-two: ski masks or other masks that cover the face.”

Prohibited item number forty-two? Is this kid serious?

“That’s not in the dress code. You’re making it up.”

“Can you prove it, Emma? Besides, a ski mask is assuredly inappropriate classroom attire, whether it is against the dress code or not.”

“I’m not asking you to wear a ski mask. I’m asking you not to be here. I don’t want to see or hear you ever again. So if you have to hide in the shadows or leave this school or jump off of Hades Point, do whatever is necessary. Just. Don’t. Exist.”

I go. Without a look back at Maude or Theodora or Jago or anyone else, I walk away. As I do, I hear whispers. Some kids are saying I’ve lost my mind. Others don’t blame me for being angry.

“That Levi’s cold,” whispers one girl to her friends. I push past her, fighting the tears in my eyes. “How can someone be so heartless?”

Another group of students thinks the Similars were abused, or tormented, or at least brainwashed.

“Did you see those two, the ones who look like Jake and Madison? They’re a couple,” a tall, skinny boy remarks. “They grew up like a family. It’s unnatural, if you ask me.”

I have to get out of here. To my room, where I can be alone. By the time I reach Cypress, it’s nearly twilight. I climb into bed.

“Dash, buzz my father, please.”

Dash’s voice rings out. “I have buzzed your father, but he is unavailable.”

“Shocking,” I mutter.

“Would you like to leave him a message, Emma?”

I pause to get my bearings. What do I want to say to my father, anyway? What can he even do about this? About Levi? About any of it? “Sure. Okay.” I pull my comforter around me. I’m shivering. “Dear Dad. This buzz is going to suck, so I’ll just come out and say it. It feels like Oliver died again today. He has a clone. A Similar. Some person named Levi. Oh, sh—don’t tell anyone. Remember we signed that nondisclosure agreement before school started? We’re supposed to keep the Similars’ identities confidential. Anyway, I’m sure you’re probably going to tell me to be strong, but I can’t… Can I come home? Please thank Genevieve for packing my slippers. Love, Emma.”

“Oliver has a clone?” Dash chimes in. “Oh, Emma. When did you find out? How did this happen?”

“Dash,” I interrupt, more forcefully than I mean to. “I don’t really want to talk about it.”

“Of course, Emma. I don’t mean to pry. This news is unexpected. It’s a lot to process. I must admit, it is causing me to feel sad.”

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