Steel-gray, the morning sky, done with night’s temper tantrum, spent, resigned itself to quiet weeping. Joy, sapped of strength and spirit, lay lifeless on a disheveled bed, clothed in crimson. “Why are they still here?” Anger seethed, and gnashed his teeth, unable to look at his son and daughter. He tossed a bag of coins at the midwife’s feet as she swaddled the mewling twins, Angst and Anhedonia, in silence. “Take them to the Mount of Sorrows,” he growled.

The weary midwife nodded, squatting to scoop up and pocket her payment. The shuttered doors blew open as Anger’s sister, Grief, swept the house and hung the mourning curtains, blocking out all but the pale, guttering flame of a black candle. This was no place for newborns. The midwife put the twins into a basket and left before Anger could turn his attention on them. Grief and Anger could bury Joy without her help.

As the midwife climbed the Mount of Sorrows, the weight of the night began to fall from her shoulders, replaced by the enormous burden of the twins. A veil of mist gave way to dawn’s weak light. Hungry at last, the twins began to stir. Their cries, at first half-hearted, became more lusty as the morning wore on. With a sigh, the midwife shook her head and began to descend from the Mount of Sorrows. She took the babes into her own home, where she nursed them on goat’s milk, brought by her own sister, Comfort.

The children would not be left to the wind, the rain, the sun, or the ravaging wolves. Not today, at least. Over the next seventeen years, the midwife would have brief occasion to second-guess her choices, but there was enough of their beloved mother in both of them to bring light and laughter into their world, and the three of them formed a bond that only strengthened, as time passed.

By and by, the midwife learned that Anger had died in Grief’s arms.

Though Angst and Anhedonia struggled, squabbling with one another, now and then, they learned to look outside themselves. Together, they climbed the Mount of Sorrows. Angst faced his fears and goaded his sister, Anhedonia, into opening her eyes until, at last, seeing all the world laid at their feet, she could not help but smile and exclaim, “Ahh, amazing!”

They thrived, blessed and nurtured by the immortal midwife who brought them into the world. Her name…

Her name was Hope.


The title is taken from the word “antipathy,” which didn’t seem quite right until I delved deeper into it, and found this:

antipathy (n.)

c. 1600, “natural aversion, hostile feeling toward,” from Latin antipathia, from Greek antipatheia, abstract noun from antipathes “opposed in feeling, having opposite feeling; in return for suffering;” also “felt mutually,” from anti “opposite, against” (see anti-) + pathein “to suffer, feel” (from PIE root *kwent(h)- “to suffer”).

An abuse has crept in upon the employment of the word Antipathy. … Strictly it does not mean hate,–not the feelings of one man set against the person of another,–but that, in two natures, there is an opposition of feeling. With respect to the same object they feel oppositely. [“Janus, or The Edinburgh Literary Almanack,” 1826]

 

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