‘Penelope’ by Dalton Trevisan

Penelope by Dalton Trevisan, 1972

The magic trick:

Crisis befalling the protagonist when his normalcy gets disrupted

This story is not unlike “Her Letters” by Kate Chopin. Both stories deal with a man’s mistrust in the face of the unknown.

We see a married couple living a life of routine. But as soon as their mundane existence gets disturbed – by mysterious letters – the flaws in their lifestyle quickly get exposed. And that’s quite a trick on Trevisan’s part.

The selection:

In the bathroom, he closed the door, tore open the envelope. Two words . . . He worked out a plan: he put the letter away and put a hair in it. He hung his jacket on the hook, the piece of paper showing in the pocket. The wife left the milk bottle by the door, went to bed. In the morning he examined the envelope: it seemed intact, in the same place. He scrutinized it in search of the white hair – he didn’t find it.

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