Sean Spicer noticed the Other First Lady once, before he vanished. She was coming down the stairs. She was wearing her dark sunglasses and her trim tailored coat and her heels. Her mouth was locked in its firm, polite non-smile, like the Cheshire Cat on a bad day. He would have thought nothing of it if he had not just seen the Real Melania in the first-floor hallway. He froze. He looked up, just for a moment, and she knew that he had seen them both.
Shortly after, he was gone.
Anthony Scaramucci saw her, too, on the same stairs. He only lasted a week afterwards. “Didn’t I just see …” he started. Real Melania put a finger to her lips.
John F. Kelly has not seen her yet. He always looks down in pictures. The newspapers make fun of him. They say his face means that he is angry. He does not care what they think. He remembers Tom Price. Price caught her eye just once and, suddenly, he was on planes. He was on planes all the time at the taxpayer’s expense and even he could not say why the planes were necessary. And then, he was gone too.
She is not a body double, not exactly. That would imply that the Trumps had hired her, on purpose. But she merely appeared one day, no one could say from where, and stood next to the president, as still and perfect as a statue. When Real Melania arrived, this Other First Lady was already there, standing there in the rain in heels (she always wears heels in the rain).
Now, Real Melania collects information about this Other First Lady in fits and starts.
The Other First Lady likes olives, but only the pimento. She has no visible heat signature. She stood on grass once and it did not bend beneath her. She never blinks. If you look at her too long, you lose the ability to distinguish fact from fiction. You start to announce that you have done things that you have never done. You forget the things you actually did. You emit peculiar sounds. These things happen all at once, often in the middle of the same speech.
The Other First Lady could have looked straight at the eclipse without even squinting, but then we would have known what she was.
Ivana called herself the first lady once and Real Melania wanted to laugh. That is not the Other First Lady to be afraid of, she wanted to say. But then, if the words appeared in print — what would the Other First Lady do?
No one knows if the president is aware of the Other First Lady. It seems like he slipped up, this week. “My wife Melania,” he said. “Who happens to be right here,” he said. He was not quick enough. Surely she noticed. Surely he too will begin to unravel.
Or perhaps the unraveling has already begun.