My sister and I used to play hillbilly magic, a kind of facile slight-of-hand. Where nothing magical actually happened except what you chose to believe.
It consisted of holding two fingers together and the other person “slicing” through them. Or making two interconnecting Os with fingers and trying to separate them. Pointless games, no doubt performed when entirely bored. Like sitting in a waiting room with nothing to read or in the back seat of the car on a long car trip.
No matter what I did she always won. An invitation by Nancy to play hillbilly magic automatically stacked the deck against me. And, why did I play? I guess because I wanted to be with her, even if it meant playing stupid games.
Sometimes she would throw in Three Stooges moves. Such as if I did manage to slice through her fingers she’d punch me in the arm. Again, if I knew it was coming why did I stand there? Maybe because I believed that someday it wouldn’t happen, that that was the trick. That I’d happily be fooled by the thing I expected not actually occurring. A kind of reverse logic.
After my father died and Nancy told me I’d been written out of the will I didn’t want to believe her. Believe that she’d orchestrated this last-minute amendment to my father’s will. It wasn’t about the money; it was about the idea—that she’d tricked me one last time. She and my brother ended up inheriting Dad’s estate.
That was five years ago and I’d almost managed to forget about it. Since then I’ve had limited correspondence with her (my own choice), but the other day she sent me a package in the mail. I studied the handwritten return address contemplating not opening it. In the end I did. Inside was a spoon carved out of wood with a note, saying it was a left-handed spoon, since I was left handed. I turned it over and over. It didn’t seem any different than any other spoon.