Dara had spent the past few days in various stages of melodramatic agony. A bad cold, a spring flu, whatever they wanted to call this thing, had knocked her squarely on her ass and left her unable to function beyond sleeping (lots of it), eating soup (chicken noodle, matzo ball, or miso), downing what seemed like gallons of Gatorade (orange or yellow), and clicking on her Roku remote as she tried to find one more thing to watch on Netflix before the cold meds knocked her out.
Thank goodness for her teaching assistant. She had finished her own coursework ages ago and had been stuck firmly in the land of ethnographic research for the past two years and change. Now that her dissertation was completely done, printed, and defended, the only thing Dara had to do was get through the last few weeks of class. Being on the teaching side of things meant that she would soon have thirtysomething final papers to grade, but she didn't want to think about that now. This cold — flu — norovirus — whatever you wanted to call it was doing anything and everything that it could to keep her sidelined. She had sent a pathetic text, or rather, a plea, to her TA earlier that morning, saying that she wasn't able to make it to class because of her Typhoid Mary status and unwillingness to infect the rest of her class with whatever evil virus had taken over her system.
After she agreed to cover, Dara holed herself up on the living room couch, ready to take advantage of having the apartment to herself for once. Her sister was at work, the dog was at the groomer's today, and there she was, all alone, free to watch whatever she wanted (Madam Secretary, Gilmore Girls) in between the various states of explosion that she was unfortunate enough to be experiencing. Postmates and Foodler had provided her with enough sustenance to get her through the next couple of days, and part of her was determined to refuse to leave the couch until she was well. However, she loved her bed just as much, and after a whiny argument with both Hailey and Hedwig, Dara retreated into the Daracave once again, but not without putting up a fight and threatening to lick the coveted Roku remote.
By Saturday night, she was starting to feel better, if not almost well enough to brave the next day's Mother's Day celebrations. The elder Gilmores would be coming into Boston around 11 the next morning, with the intention of enjoying some museum time with their daughters before having a nice, warm brunch as one big happy family. Dara scrunched up her nose at the thought; their family meals usually went smooth enough, especially when liquor was involved (they were northeast WASPs, after all), but the motherly poking and prodding about the sisters' could be a bit much sometimes, even if it was mostly well-intentioned. She drifted off to sleep with thoughts of Bottichelli's greatest works and peekytoe crab on avocado toast.
An alarm went off somewhere in the vicinity of her head, but Dawn was buried under the covers and eager to get more sleep. She blindly felt around for her phone or whatever this device was, wanting the damn thing to stop shouting and let her sleep for another hour. She groaned as she rolled over and tried to make sense of the device in her hands. After a few moments of poking around, she was able to shut it off and set it aside once again. Sleep. That was what she wanted. That was what she needed.
"Dara! Mom and Dad are here, why aren't you ready?" her sister said loudly, dive-bombing her bed in a rude and very Hailey-like way to wake her up.
"Ready for what?" she mumbled from her spot under the covers. She turned to face the familiar voice when it hit her. Whoever this was had just called her Dara. It was happening again.
"Are you serious? We had this whole thing planned! Art museum. Alden & Harlow. Mother's Day," Hailey hissed. "Get ready, I'll stall." And with that, the other woman climbed off of her bed, threw her curtains open to let what little sunlight they had into her room, and marched off to make small talk with the parentals — but not without slamming her bedroom door, of course.
Dawn stretched and let out a small whine. "Not this again," she grumbled quietly, hoping that no one was within earshot. It was Mother's Day. She wasn't in her own body and this wasn't her actual mother, but she had to go along with whatever it was that the sisters had planned for their family. She liked to think of herself as a quick study, and though Dara had spent all of her energy fighting off Dawn at their last family meal together, she was hopeful that she had picked up enough about each family member to be able to pass as Dara.
She threw the covers off and sat up slowly, taking in her surroundings. They were unfamiliar, sparse yet kind of childish and haphazard all at once. That was something she could worry about later, though. She wandered into the bathroom to brush her teeth and make herself presentable and was able to slip back into her room unnoticed so that she could go through Dara's closet. Dawn held back a small yelp as she opened the closet doors, unable to understand how the other girl could possibly find anything in here. She could fix that later on, too, but for now, she would just have to do her best. Dawn pieced together an outfit as best as she could, grabbed Dara's phone and purse, and stepped out to join the rest of her family.
"Happy Mother's Day, Mom!" she greeted the matriarch cheerily and with a hug. She hugged Dara's dad as well and hoped that it wasn't obvious that she was gritting her teeth the whole time. This situation, this other self business, was impossible to make sense of, but she was going to do her best while Dara let her. She heard the other girl in her head, begging and pleading to understand what was happening, but that would have to be dealt with later, too. Right now, she just had to get through the next few hours without giving up the ruse.