Antipatheia

Apr 1, 2020 | Fiction

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]

 

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

11 Comments

  1. Mitchell Allen

    Hi Holly,

    I love allegories! That was beautifully crafted and perfectly scripted. Also, I learned some stuff.

    Bravo!

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…The Last SupperMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      You know just how to lift my spirits, Mitch. Thank you!

      Reply
      • Mahati ramya adivishnu

        Awesome story Holly. In situations like now with Corona spreading like fire, we all need hope.

        Reply
        • Holly Jahangiri

          Yes. The story is one of mixed emotions, current events, a gray and rainy day, and the stories we make up to feel better. Hope inserted herself when I wasn’t looking. 😊 I’m glad you enjoyed it.

          Reply
  2. Shilpa Gupte

    That was such an unusual story, Holly! Loved the imagination, and the narration 🙂

    Reply
  3. Unishta

    Lovely. I love happy endings.

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Had to give you one after “Red Paint.”

      Reply
  4. Karen

    I enjoyed the story and like the image you selected to go with it. Weekends In Maine

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      I should have mentioned that the image is my own, taken at Yellowstone National Park, last year. The landscape there is never the same from moment to moment, and is occasionally moody and a little bit surreal. I am glad you thought this one was as fitting as I did.

      Reply

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