They say everyone has a double, a doppelganger, someone who’s their mirror image. What if you just met your double? What if you were a thirteen-year-old kid who’s gay and you just met your double?
You know what it’s like when you’re sound asleep and your bed starts shaking and something heavy falls on you and you wake up? If you live in California the first thing you think is ‘earthquake!’ You’re disoriented and scared and confused. Well, that’s what happened to me early Monday morning. When I opened my eyes I saw another pair of eyes staring down at me, right up close.
“Are you awake?” It was Todd, sitting with his butt on my stomach, his legs on each side of me, and his hands pressing down on my shoulders.
“Why did you wake me up? Was there an earthquake? What time is it? Why are you sitting on me?”
“Get offa me!” I shouted.
He leaned down and rubbed his nose against mine. “I couldn’t sleep. I’m too excited about the election. It’s six thirty-five. Come on, get up!”
He got off of me and stood by the side of my bed.
“I’m going back to sleep for a half hour. See you at seven,” I said. I closed my eyes. Because Todd stood at my right I rolled onto my left side and pulled the covers over my head.
“Get up, Tony!” It was a female voice. I turned onto my right side, peeked out from under the covers, and saw Heather standing behind Todd.
“Et tu, Heather?” I said, and she laughed.
“Get out, both of you,” I said. “Go downstairs and eat your breakfast or do your homework or take a walk or something. Actually, just take a walk, out of my bedroom.” I looked at the clock. “I’m going back to sleep for twenty-three minutes.” I closed my eyes.
Todd grabbed my blanket and my top sheet and yanked them off of me. All the way off of me. As usual, I slept commando — that is, naked. I covered up my dangly bits with my hands.
Heather giggled. “I’m impressed, Tony.” She turned to Todd. “Obviously you have the same equipment as Tony.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “You’re both very cute. Down there.”
I saw Todd blush big-time. Even his ears turned bright red. ‘Serves him right!’ I thought.
“Get outa here, Heather! Go look at some of the sites with pictures of naked guys that you’ll find on Todd’s computer.”
“Oh, that’s harsh, Tony!” Todd said. “We’ll leave, but get your cute butt out of bed and take a shower and come on downstairs and we’ll have breakfast.”
“Bacon and eggs, prepared by yours truly,” Heather said. “And I’m a good cook.”
“OUT!” I shouted. “You two are incorrigible. That means ‘beyond redemption.’ Get out of here and I’ll get up. But be prepared. While I shower I’m going to think up some especially gruesome way to kill both of you.”
They both laughed as they walked out. Todd didn’t even close my bedroom door. Oh, was he going to get it! And Heather, too.
While I showered I thought about what happened. I realized that neither of them had apologized. Especially Todd for pulling off my covers and letting Heather see me naked. The more I thought about it the madder I got.
I brushed my teeth, dressed, and went downstairs. I sat down at the kitchen table across from Todd. Heather stood at the stove playing chef. I could smell bacon cooking.
“Good morning, Tony,” Todd said.
I didn’t say anything, I just sat and glared at him.
“How about some orange juice?” he asked. He got up, got a glass and the orange juice, brought them to the table, filled the glass, and put it in front of me. I picked it up and drank about a third of it and set the glass down. I didn’t say anything. That’s how I planned to get back at them, I’d snub them, not respond to them. Until they apologized to me. Maybe even groveled a bit. Perhaps got down on their knees and begged. Well, maybe that last thing was a bit much. But only by a little bit.
Heather called out, “Tony, how many eggs do you want? How do you want them cooked?”
I didn’t respond, just continued to glare at Todd. I drank some more of my orange juice.
“Tony?” Heather called out again.
“He’s not answering,” Todd said. “I think that’s because he’s majorly pissed at us. Just cook them however you want.”
“How about you then?” she asked.
“Over easy is good.”
“Okay, I’ll fry all of them over easy. What kind of bread do you have? I’ll make toast for all of us.”
“I’ll take care of the toast,” Todd said. He got up and walked to the refrigerator and looked inside. He turned and asked me, “Is sourdough okay?”
I didn’t respond, just continued to glare at him.
“How about you, Heather?”
“Sourdough sounds good.”
“Okay, sourdough it is.” When the toast was done he took it out and gave it to Heather. She put two eggs on top of a piece of toast and put it and three slices of bacon on each plate.
“Can you give me a hand, Todd?”
They brought the plates to the table and Todd got forks, knives, and napkins for each of us. They sat down and we ate our breakfast. I didn’t say anything.
“So do you think we won the election?” Todd asked Heather.
“We’ll find out in homeroom this morning.”
“So, let’s say we won. What’s next?”
“I’m not sure. This is the first election we’ve been involved in at Wilson. At the meetings they didn’t say anything about what happens after the election. I assume they’ll schedule a meeting with you to go over what you are expected to do.”
“Sounds sort of anticlimactic, if you ask me.”
“Yeah, I agree. What I know will happen is we’ll have lots of kids congratulating you and Tony.” She looked at me for a few seconds. “I assume he’ll talk to the kids who congratulate him or ask him questions. Probably he’s only refusing to talk to you and me.”
“How long do you think he’ll keep this up?”
“Well, you’re his almost-twin and you two seem to think alike. What would you do if it was you in this situation?”
“Well, I’d be really pissed when the covers would have been pulled off me and you would have seen my private parts. Most guys are real shy about others seeing their stuff, especially girls and relatives. I know I am, and I assume Tony is too.”
I noticed the time and I got up and left the room. Todd looked surprised and confused, but I didn’t care. I went to my bedroom and got my backpack and everything I needed for my classes today. Then I went downstairs, walked through the living room to the front door. As I walked out I heard Todd say, “Tony just left to walk to school. We gotta get going too.”
When I got to Walnut Avenue I had to wait for the traffic signal. I heard Todd run up. He grabbed my arm and stood in front of me.
“Tony, this has gone far enough. Talk to us. Why are you shunning us?”
I continued looking at him and didn’t say anything. The signal changed and I heard the chirping bird announcing that we had the walk signal to cross the street. Todd was holding on to my arm, so I pulled away and crossed the street. Heather caught up and she and Todd crossed behind me.
“I told you he wants us to apologize,” Heather said. I figured that they must have talked about me after I went upstairs to get my backpack.
“And I told you that we did apologize,” Todd said. Of course, they hadn’t apologized. They’d just walked out of my bedroom laughing.
“I don’t remember when you said you were sorry. I know I didn’t say it. I think we need to apologize to him. Now. Before we get to school.”
“What, right here on the street?”
“Yes, right here on the street.” She ran up to get in front of me, then started walking backwards. “Tony, please stop walking so we can apologize for what we did.”
I stopped walking.
“See, Todd, I told you. You have to apologize first because you’re the one who caused all this to happen.”
Todd walked so he was in front of me. “Tony, I’m really sorry for what happened. It was supposed to be a joke, but then you weren’t wearing anything and I got embarrassed that Heather saw you and I just wanted to get out of there and I thought I’d said I was sorry but I guess I didn’t. I must have just forgotten about apologizing and that’s not me. When I do something that needs an apology I always say I’m sorry. So I’m really, really sorry for everything that happened this morning. Please forgive me.”
He looked so sad I thought maybe he’d start crying. Then Heather started talking.
“Tony, I’m sorry for what I said about the way you and Todd look. When I saw you were undressed I didn’t know what to say, so I made a joke about it. That was stupid of me. I’m so sorry, Tony. You’re my friend and that’s very important to me. I don’t want to lose that friendship. So I’m sorry, and I apologize for being insensitive. What I should have done is say ‘Sorry’ then turn and leave your bedroom. I didn’t do that. Probably because Todd and I had been joking about waking you up. I’m sorry, Tony I really am. Will you accept my apology?”
She had tears on her cheeks and I thought her apology was sincere.
“Yes, I’ll accept your apology, Heather.”
I turned and looked at Todd. After a few seconds he realized what I wanted him to do. “Tony, you’re my best friend and my almost-twin cousin. I’m so sorry for what I did, and for not apologizing when it did happen. Will you accept my apology?”
“Yes, I’ll accept your apology, Todd.”
“Thanks!” Todd said. Then he hugged me, and Heather joined the hug. She whispered, “I love you, Tony,” in my ear. Todd must have heard her, because he said, “I love you too, man. You’re the best!”
We pulled out of the hug and I looked around to see if anyone had seen us. Nope, no one. Not that it would have bothered me; I just wanted to avoid someone we knew coming over and asking why we were hugging.
I felt really nervous by the time I got to my homeroom. Most of the kids were whispering and talking. I assumed about the election. Frank came in and sat next to me.
“Nervous, Tony?” he asked.
“I thought so. You look nervous.”
Mrs. Kellerman stood up at the second bell. “The first item on today’s agenda is the announcement of the winners of the election of freshman class officers for this school year. Our principal, Paula Rodriguez, will make the announcements to the freshman homerooms.”
Mrs. Rodriguez came on the classroom video system. She stood smiling, like she usually did when she made announcements.
“First, I’d like to say good morning to all of you, the members of this year’s freshman class. This is your first year at Wilson High School, and I’ve met quite a few of you and have been impressed by your interest, dedication, and enthusiasm. You should be proud that ninety-two percent of the freshman class voted in this election. That’s the highest turnout of any freshman class election in the history of Wilson High School, and the third highest of any class election. Congratulations!
“Now I’d like to get directly to the three freshman class offices. I’d like to thank all of the candidates for conducting positive campaigns, and congratulate the winners. Please withhold your applause and compliments until all three officers have been named.
“The winner of the position of Freshman Class Secretary is Jaymin Dodge. The winner of the position of Freshman Class Vice President is Tony McKinley. The winner of the position of Freshman Class President is Todd Anderson.”
Whatever the principal said after announcing the winners was overwhelmed in our homeroom by applause and shouted congratulations for me and Jaymin. Everybody in the class stood up and began moving to where we were sitting.
Frank shook my hand. “Congratulations, Mr. Freshman Class Vice President,” he said. “My vote for you was undoubtedly the deciding vote.” He grinned.
“Thanks for that vote, Frank,” I said, and grinned in return.
Jeffrey Stotomis walked up to me and shook my hand. “Hey, Tony, congratulations on winning the VP position. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.”
“Thanks, Jeff, I will. You’ve committed yourself, so I’m going to need your cell number. I will be getting in touch with you.”
“You know, if I hadn’t voted for myself, I would have voted for you. I really liked your speech. You did a great job, you weren’t nervous and it sounded like you had memorized it. You must have taken a speech class in middle school.”
“No speech class. I just practiced my speech over and over until I knew it by heart. I did that because Heather Miller was my campaign manager and she’s a real slave driver.”
“That’s what I should have done. I really messed up by reading my speech, then when I’d look up at our class I’d forget what I was supposed to say next. Sometimes when I looked down at my speech I couldn’t find my next line. Besides, I was nervous and that didn’t help.”
“Maybe you can run for a sophomore class office next year and ask Heather to be your campaign manager.”
“You’re not planning to run for an office next year?”
“No. I think getting good grades so I can get into Cal and playing football will be all I’ll be able to handle when I’m a sophomore.” I didn’t mention that I’d be doing those things at Davis High, not at Wilson.
“Okay, I think I will talk to her. She’s in my English and World Geography classes. Thanks for the tip, Tony. And I’m serious about working with you this year. You have NFC on your phone?”
“Yeah. Lemme turn it on.” We tapped phones together which transferred our cell numbers. Then I was mobbed by other kids from my homeroom. I think I shook hands with most the guys and was hugged by most of the girls and a few of the guys.
Bailey Branston, the other candidate for Secretary from our homeroom, walked up to me.
“Congratulations, Tony. You’ll make a great class vice president.” We shook hands.
Jaymin Dodge walked up and joined us.
“Hi, Jaymin. Congratulations,” Bailey said. “Hey, I’ll see you in French next period.”
“Okay, thanks, Bailey. See you.” Bailey walked over to where Jeffrey and Frank were talking with some other kids.
I congratulated Jaymin. “It’s great that you won the Freshman Class Secretary position,” I said.
“Thanks Tony. And congratulations on becoming Freshman Class Vice President. I think it’ll be fun working with you and Todd.”
We hugged, then we heard the bell announcing the end of homeroom. “Do you know if we’re going to have a meeting of the freshman class officers?” I asked.
“I heard a rumor that it’s going to be tomorrow during lunch. They’re supposed to supply pizza. But I’m not sure about that. We should hear something today. I hope!”
“Yeah, I hope so too. I’m not sure what I’ll do now, so I really want to find out.”
“Yeah, I do too. Well, I’ve got to get to my French class. See you later, Tony. And congrats again!”
“Congrats again to you, too,” I said.
The rest of my classes were like homeroom, kids coming up and congratulating me. I also got stopped in the halls between classes. Finally, it was time for lunch. I figured it would be same-as. It turned out to be louder and more chaotic. I finally figured out why. All the classes held their elections on Friday, and those results were announced in their homerooms today just like they’d been announced to the freshman homerooms. Everyone seemed to want to talk at the same time, and about their class’s election.
As I walked up to join the food line I heard someone shout my name. I looked around and saw Brian shaking his head and mouthing ‘no’ and waving for me to come to our usual table. So I skipped the line and started to walk through the crowds of kids standing around the tables. I kept being stopped by kids I didn’t know who knew that I’d won the election for freshman class vice president. I stopped for a few seconds to thank them for congratulating me, asked for their name, asked them to post a friend request on my Facebook page, and asked for their support during the rest of the school year.
I finally made it to our usual lunch table. Brian shoved one of those boxes in front of me, the kind a restaurant gives you for takeout or leftovers.
“Open it and see.” He grinned.
I open the top of the box. It had a Giant George’s bacon cheeseburger and fries.
“That’s fantastic, Brian. Did you go get these?”
“Yup. I called in a phone order and Frank, Scott, and I sort of snuck off the campus and picked up lunch for you and Todd. And for ourselves and some others, too. Now, look what else we got you.”
He turned and pointed to the table. I looked and grinned. “Milkshakes! What flavors?”
“There are four left, three chocolate and one strawberry. You can have one of either flavor.”
I stuck my bottom lip out to look sad. “Not one of each flavor?”
“Dufus! One of either, and if you want the strawberry shake you’d better grab it before someone else does. It’s the one with a red ‘S’ on the side.”
“Nah, I’ll take the choc… no, I will take the strawberry. I always get chocolate, and it’s time for a change.”
He handed me a large drink cup. “Okay, here it is. Now, take your lunch and go sit next to Todd. We’re going to take you guys’ pictures in a few minutes.”
I saw Jaymin sitting on Todd’s left, so I took the empty seat on his right. I leaned forward and looked past Todd so I could talk to her.
“I’m glad you joined us today.”
“Thanks.” She laughed. “Hey, I couldn’t turn down a free lunch!”
I laughed, then leaned back and looked at Todd.
“Congratulations, Todd. Did you ever imagine that you’d be the President of the Wilson High School Freshman Class?”
“No. Not even after everything Heather had us doing. And it’s super that we both won. Congratulations, Mr. Freshman Class Vice President.”
“I think it’s hot that we both won,” I said. Then I made a big play of touching his shoulder with my index finger and made a loud “Tsssss!” sound like he was hot, and jerked my hand back.
We both started laughing.
Jaymin had watched us. “What’s so funny about what you just did?” she asked.
“It’s from that scene in Young Frankenstein,” I said.
Jaymin looked like I’d just said I’d arrived on the morning flight from Mars.
“Oh my god, you’ve never seen the movie Young Frankenstein, have you!” I said.
“No. I’ve never heard of it. Is it a comedy?”
“Yes, and it’s just about the funniest comedy ever.”
“Okay guys, picture time,” Brian said. “Move that food out of the way and scooch together.”
Brian took a bunch of pictures of us together and individually. He had Heather stand in back of me and Todd, and he took a bunch more. Finally he put his camera away.
“Okay, you three, eat your lunch,” he ordered. We kept getting interrupted as kids came by to congratulate the three of us, but we were finally able to finish.
“There’s nothing like a chocolate shake from Giant George’s,” Todd said, slurping the last drops through his straw. “Mmmmm!”
“Did you just make a yummy sound?” I asked, paraphrasing the line from Young Frankenstein. Todd and I busted up laughing.
“Okay, now what’s so funny?” Jaymin asked.
“That’s another line from Young Frankenstein,” I said.
“Okaaaay…” she responded.
“It’s one of those ‘You have to be there’ things, like you have to watch the movie,” I said, then I laughed.
“Hey, Jaymin,” Todd said, “I have an idea. Since you’ve never seen Young Frankenstein, how about you come to my house Saturday at one o’clock and we’ll have a movie day so you can see it? My folks have the DVD. It’s an old movie, and it’s in black and white, and it’s hilarious. We’ll also invite Heather, Brian, and Scott.”
“Okay, that sounds like fun. Could I bring my girlfriend?” Jaymin asked.
“Sure. What’s her name?”
“Lisa Washington. Umm… when I say she’s my girlfriend, I mean she’s my girlfriend-girlfriend, like we’re a gay couple. Is that okay?”
“There’s absolutely no problem with that. Brian’s my boyfriend and Scott is Tony’s boyfriend, so it’s like we’re gay too.” Todd grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.
“I didn’t know you guys are gay. That is so cool.”
“And we didn’t know that you’re gay, either,” I said.
“Is Heather gay?”
“No, she’s definitely straight,” Todd said.
I thought of something. “You know, that means that all of the freshman class officers this year are gay.” I grinned. “We’re members of a winning team.”
“I like that. A winning team. Lisa will like that too,” Jaymin said.
“Are the two of you out?” I asked
“Yes, to our families, but not at school. How about you two?”
“Yes, both to our families and at school. I’m surprised you didn’t know.”
“No, I didn’t know. Someone told me about how you two look like twins but you’re cousins. I’ve never heard of anything like that before.” She stared at Todd, then at me. “I don’t think I could tell you apart. You even dress alike.”
“I know. It’s very weird, our minds seem to work the same and we pick the same clothes without talking to each other about it. About the only time we don’t dress alike is when I’m wearing my football uniform.”
Finally we heard the bell ending lunch period and Todd, Jaymin, and I left together.
“So we’re good for Saturday?” Todd asked.
Jaymin and I both said we were.
“You know,” he said, “how about we make it a double feature? We can watch Galaxy Quest too. Have you ever seen that, Jaymin?”
“No to that also. We don’t watch that many old movies. Mostly TV shows like Glee and The Fosters, and new movies that we think we’ll like.”
“I think Galaxy Quest is tied with Young Frankenstein as the funniest movies ever,” I said. “If you like comedies you’ll love both of these flicks.”
Jaymin grinned. “Sounds like a lot of fun. I love to laugh, so I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
“Okay, now that that’s settled,” Todd said, “let’s get back to planning our double feature. Bring your own sodas and I’ll make popcorn and order pizza so we have something to munch on between the two movies.”
Vice Principal Garrison held the class officer organization meeting during lunch on Tuesday with the officers from all four classes. One of the things we found out is that we’ll all be members of the Student Council. A few of the officers from the other classes had held office before. They talked about how the members of the Student Council worked together on projects, like homecoming and all-school dances and special projects they took on like student crossing guards and the Welcoming Committee for new students. We found out that the Student Council met after school on the first Monday of each month.
We met Mr. Johnson, the Faculty Advisor for the freshman class officers. Todd had him for World Geography, and said he would make a great advisor. He had suggestions for how we could organize our meetings, what they might cover, and when we might meet. Todd, Jaymin, and I decided we’d hold our freshman class officers’ meetings during lunch on the first and third Mondays of each month. It fit Mr. Johnson’s schedule since he didn’t have office hours on Mondays.
It seemed that all of the excitement was over and things got… well, dull but fortunately not quite boring the rest of the week. Let’s face it, it’s tough to top something as major as winning class elections.
There were no football practices except during our usual seventh period PE classes. That’s because we had a bye — that means we didn’t have a game — on Friday, October third. Coach Kavanaugh said we were sharp and could use some rest and recuperation time, and we’d resume morning practices next week prior to our game with Lehman.
We had a special freshman class officers’ organization meeting during lunch on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson had a lot of suggestions about how we could arrange the week by week duties of our offices. Since he’d been the Faculty Advisor for the freshman class last year he told us what he thought had worked and what hadn’t for last year’s freshman officers.
In Chorus Mr. Emmonds said we were ready for the Christmas concert and we would do a couple run-throughs the week before the first performance. We started on Les Misérables, or Les Miz. The music was by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and the original lyrics were in French; the English-language lyrics were by Herbert Kretzmer. The music and lyrics were fantastic. Mr. Emmonds said it would be interesting to compare Les Miz to an opera. So for a couple days we watched parts of videos of Les Miz and Puccini’s La Bohème then spent time talking about the similarities and differences between a musical and an opera. We’d sing one of the songs from Les Miz, then sing one of the arias from La Bohème in English. I surprised myself by deciding that I liked opera, at least La Bohème. Go figure!
The rest of my classes were all same-as, same-as. There were two tests in Spanish and one in Biology, reading assignments in English, World Geography, and Spanish. Mrs. Porzio inflicted more poetry on us, this time mostly reading poems and writing our responses.
Saturday arrived and we went to the gym first thing before breakfast. Uncle Dennis paid for Todd’s personal trainer, and she worked with him. Scott, Josh, and I focused on our individual exercises.
We had invited Scott to our double feature movie gala, as Todd liked to call it, and he’d accepted. When I saw Josh at the gym I told him about the two movies and what we planned to eat, then asked him if he’d like to join us.
“Sounds like a lot of fun, so thanks for inviting me. I accept. I’ve seen Young Frankenstein and it’s great, but I haven’t seen Galaxy Quest. I have some buy one, get one free coupons from Demarco’s Pizza. They’re good for home delivery too. We can ask everyone what kind of pizza they like and if we text the order to them we’ll get some kind of salad free with our order.”
“Hey, that’s great. Thanks, Josh,” I said.
“What can I bring?”
“Just whatever kind of soda you want to drink.”
“No beer, ‘eh?”
“No beer. Sorry about that.”
“Hey, that’s just a joke. I don’t like beer. I think it tastes awful.”
“Yeah, me too,” I said.
After we’d showered and dressed we went outside to wait for Aunt Nora who told us she’d pick us up.
“Hey, Scott, why don’t you and Josh come to my house with us right now?” Todd asked. “Otherwise we’ll drop you off at your house then you’ll have to take the bus all the way to school and walk to where I live.”
“But we don’t have our sodas,” Scott said.
“Because Josh is getting us half our pizzas for free, I’ll provide your sodas,” Todd responded. “So, no problema.”
They looked at each other, grinned, and nodded.
“You’re right, it makes a lot more sense if we go directly to your house,” Josh said. “I just texted my mom and told her what we want to do. I should get a message back real soon.”
His phone buzzed right then, and Josh laughed.
“She gave her okay,” he said. “We’re good to go.”
We were all ‘good to go’ so we went, via Aunt Nora’s SUV, to Todd’s house that served as my home — temporarily. I shouldn’t be depressed, we were about to see two of the funniest movies ever. But I was. The idea of losing these friends had suddenly sneaked through the defenses I’d subconsciously built to keep me from thinking about it.
When we got to Todd’s house I said I wanted to take a walk. Scott looked around and saw me walking down the street. He ran and caught up with me. I didn’t want to look at him because I didn’t want him to see my tears.
He grabbed my arm. “Stop, Tony!” I stopped.
He saw that I’d been crying, and somehow he knew exactly what I’d been thinking.
“We won’t be apart,” he said.
“I’m going away and there isn’t anything I can do about it. That means we’ll be apart.”
“It’s not going to happen for at least eight months, Tony. By the time those months are over we’ll have figured out a way to see each other. Maybe not every day, but often.”
“But not often enough!”
Scott elbowed me, then smiled. “We’re smart, we’ll figure something out. We have eight months to do that. Right now you need something to take your mind off what’s not going to happen tomorrow or next week or next month or even next year. So now let’s go watch some funny movies and eat popcorn and pizza and have fun.”
He touched my chest with his index finger and made a loud “Tsssss!” sound. I couldn’t help it, I laughed, and then we stood there grinning at each other.
“That’s better,” Scott said. “Now, boyfriend, let’s head back to Todd’s and watch two very funny movies. That’ll cheer you up.”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing A Time When It All Went Wrong
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This story and the included images are Copyright © 2015 by Colin Kelly (colinian). They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted. Original image is Copyright © stock.xchng. 'I Dreamed a Dream' lyrics from Les Misérables are Copyright © 2012 Cameron Mackintosh Overseas Limited.
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