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The Girl Who Is Isabel

I used to teach a girl named Isabel. One day, shortly after we'd finished our series of classes, she got onto my bus but it turned out the girl wasn't Isabel at all. Oddly, over the next few days, I kept seeing other girls that weren't Isabel. I don't know why this happened. Isabel wasn't a particularly striking girl and I didn't think she had made the sort of impression on me that would mean I'd keep thinking I'd seen her when I hadn't.

Even so, after that first false sighting on the bus, it seemed that everywhere I went, I would see girls who weren't Isabel. But though girls who weren't Isabel were everywhere I always felt that the one who got on the bus that day was the best at being The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel. She got on the bus every day after that first time.

On the bus one day I found myself sat a few seats behind The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel. As we reached the city I glanced out of the window and saw another girl who wasn't Isabel. It was the first time I'd ever seen two of them at the same time; two girls who weren't Isabel. The shock of it was that this second girl really was Isabel! She was walking up Avenida Cervantes with a friend. Interestingly, her friend didn't look anything like her.

For a split second as the bus went past, the three of us lined up in a rather splendid isosceles triangle formation: The Girl Who Is Isabel, The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel, and me, as unlikely a geometric shape I ever saw. Since that day I haven't seen The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel as she hasn't got on the bus. Nor have I seen The Girl Who Is Isable as she hasn''t walked up Avenida Cervantes. I also haven't seen any other girls that weren't Isabel. These non-sightings haven't happened on the bus, the avenidas, everywhere. It's as if the triangle thing has finally settled something.

Except to say that it hasn't. Not totally.

Though I'm sure The Girl Who Is Isabel is fine I do find myself thinking now about the girl who used to get on the bus, The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel, and this has led to a worrying development in the whole sorry business.


This morning a new girl got on the bus. At first I thought it was The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel but it wasn't, it was a new girl, The Girl Who Isn't The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel. She didn't even almost not look like her. So now I'm pondering things. Am I going to start seeing loads of other girls who don't look like The Girl Who Is Isabel, and who don't look like The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel, but who do look like The Girl Who Isn't The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel? Or am I not?


If The Girl Who Is Isabel turns up again it could get very complicated.

And what if the three of them ended upon the bus? If The Girl Who Is Isabel, The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel, and The Girl Who Isn't The Girl Who Wasn't Isabel all ended up on the bus at the same time, with me. What would happen?

First question that comes to mind is, how would we form an isosceles triangle?

I'd like to think we wouldn't even try but it all makes me wonder if anyone's ever looked at me and thought I was someone else and not me. I'm not The Man Who Looks Like Isabel, I know that much, yet there may be girls out there who look like Isabel who have seen me and think I look like someone else.

I may well be known to some people, to someone or other who looks a bit like Isabel but who isn't Isabel, as The Man Who Isn't Manolo, or The Man Who Wasn't The Man Who Isn't Manolo. Or worse still, The Bloke On The Bus Who Doesn't Know Who He Is But Who Knows He's Not Isabel.

Changing my bus route won't fix the situation but I think I'll walk into the city instead from now on. I'll still take a very similar route, not the proper bus route but The Route That Looks Like The Bus Route But Isn't. I risk unwittingly forming a parallelogram with three other people as I hit Avenida Cervantes just as a bus is going past but that's a risk I'll take thank-you very much.

Should I see The Girl Who Is Isabel I will confront her, get it all out in the open. She's the one who started all this malarkey. I'll ask her what she thinks she's playing at and who the hell does she think I am. And what does she know about geometry, and does it freak her out that so many girls look like her, except her friend.

The problem is that I've now forgotten what The Girl Who Is Isabel looks like. How will I know if I run into her? My mind's so full of all the potential dramas that may occur whilst travelling on foot along The Route That Looks Like The Bus Route But Isn't. And I've got another student. Her name's Isabel. I haven't met her yet but I can't begin to imagine where this is heading.


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