Two Of A Kind by Sean O’Faolain, 1966
The magic trick:
The scene in which Matty and his Aunt Lily lie to each other about their lives
There is a scene in this story when Matty meets his Aunt Lily for the first time. It is clear to the reader that he is lying to her about the family and the homefront. His tales contradict the backstory we were afforded earlier in the narration. It is a sad but tender moment. The scene takes on a different feeling though as it dawns on the reader (I was probably late to the party as usual) that she is likely lying as well about her life in New York. We don’t have the backstory as confirmation, but it makes sense. And it’s very, very sad. These two long lost family members feel they must lie about the state of things in order to keep the other from sadness on Christmas Eve. I don’t know. I guess it’s kind of a sappy moment, but I thought it was a well-constructed emotional tug. And that’s quite a trick on O’Faolain’s part.
“Here? Well, no… That is to say, no! My husband and me had a house of our very own over in East Fifty-eighth. He did very well for himself. He was quite a rich man when he died. A big jeweler. When he was killed in an airplane crash five years ago he left me very well off. But sure I didn’t need a house of my own and I had lots of friends in Brooklyn, so I came to live here.”