A Story a Day #20: Alberto Moravia
February 25th, 2020
"A Double Game"
The narrator, a young man, is sick of always being compared to his perfect neighbor, Umberto. His mother wishes he was more like him. The narrator has been seeing this girl named Clara and intends to marry her. He asks her what she thinks of Umberto and she says some rather harsh things about him. He feels reassured and goes to Clara's mother, who reads palms, to tell her about his intended engagement. During the reading, her mother says that he will not be married but have a string of lovers. Upset, he declares that he and Clara are to get married. The mother laughs and says her daughter is already engaged to Umberto and has only been seeing him the past few days to let him down slowly. Enraged, he leaves and overhears Clara and Umberto's voices together. He sees an attractive girl and approaches her and they leave to get a drink.
Throughout the story, it is obvious that something is awry but you are never quite sure what. We know to be skeptical of Umberto, but are lured into trusting Clara because of the narrator's blind love. The reveal of her engagement should be devastating, but appears disappointing rather than tragic. Of course Umberto was always going to win. In the end, the feeling isn't too bitter as the narrator heads off with another girl.
I liked the stakes of this story in that they feel very real and intense, but not overly dramatic. As often happens in short stories, the sequence of events happens very quickly and kept me very invested in what happens to the couple. As predicted, Umberto would show his face once more. It isn't a new concept for people to be betrayed or duped by their lovers. This is a common theme in many stories and novels. In almost any type of love story, there is someone who is chosen and someone who is blindsided by their rejection. We most often get the perspective of true love and the happy couple, so it was nice to see the relationship from the other side.