Submitted Date 08/14/2018

When I woke up, I could tell.

They thought I wouldn't notice. But everything had changed -- even though it looked just the same. All my clothes, my computer games, my skateboards, were in the same place where they had been when I went to sleep. 

But I knew. 

A missing thread here and a wear mark on the inline skates there. It was obvious to a careful observer -- and I am very careful -- that every single thing had been replaced.

Why they had done this was still unclear to me -- but it confirmed what I'd suspected for months -- in fact, it was the final piece of the puzzle.

My first reaction was that my parents might be aliens who had found me at a young age and used me for a cover. I would have been the perfect camouflage. 

But that was too sci-fi, too TV, too comic book.

No, it was something else. And then I figured it out. They had to be in the witness protection program. They used me -- however they got hold of me -- probably bought me from some Russian black market couple for adoption -- so that they could appear to be a normal family in an average suburban neighborhood.

In fact, that was part of their undoing -- they were too normal -- like a 1950's sitcom -- they smiled too much, got along too well and our appliances rarely broke. 

When I thought about it, I realized that the signs had been there all along -- the backyard barbecues where they gave certain neighbors knowing glances but not others. My "dad" never drank too much -- unlike the other men.

Now I know what you are thinking, that I must have misjudged the situation. That they are my real parents who actually do get along. And I've thought about this, considered it from every angle. Was I wrong? Was I just reading into things?

As I've said, I am careful. 

The details might have eluded a less precise observer. In my science classes -- in my nature field trips -- I have learned to look closely. I always get an A.

The parents of all my friends pop pills, guzzle booze, fight a lot, break up, fool around.  Dinner is never ready, the car is always in the shop. Our lives -- on the other hand -- are always on schedule, like clockwork.

No, it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that my "mom" and "dad" were not who they appeared to be. They thought that being "normal" would give them a place to hide, that no one would notice them in a sea of similar people. But like the article I read about the policeman who catches criminals because they drive too carefully, my parents stand out.

And what am I going to do about this? Now that I know? 

I've thought about that too -- stayed up the last couple of nights after my "parents" thought I had turned out the lights -- but I had pulled the covers over me so I could listen to music on my iPhone and think until the sun rose. And I've made a firm -- and I think a very clever -- decision. 

I am going to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I'm not going to let them know that I know. 

And I will trick them because they'll think they've kept me fooled all these years. We will go on as we have, pretending to be what we are not. 

We will appear to be the perfect family.


Photo is from commons.wikimedia.org

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