Oct 31, 2017
“What was this? Not grief. Grief she knew. Grief was the stepsibling they’d grown up with, unwanted and inevitable. Grief the amniotic fluid of their lives. Grief she could look in the eyes while her twin stared over its shoulder and told her of the world that lay beyond. Grief changed its shape to fit your contours—enveloping you as a second skin you eventually learned to slip into and resume your life. Grief was the deal God struck with the angel of death, who wanted an unpassable river to separate the living from the dead; grief the bridge that would allow the dead to flit among the living, their footsteps overhead, their laughter around the corner, their posture recognizable in the bodies of strangers you would follow down the street, willing them never to turn around. Grief was what you owed the dead for the necessary crime of living on without them.
But this was not grief. It did not cleave to her, it flayed her. It did not envelop her, it leaked into her pores and bloated her beyond recognition. She did not hear his footsteps or his laughter, she no longer knew how to hunch down and inhabit his posture, she couldn’t look into a mirror and see his eyes looking back at her.
This was not grief. It was rage. It was his rage, the boy who allowed himself every emotion but rage, so it was the unfamiliar part of him, that was all he was allowing her now, it was all she had left of him. She held it to her breast, she fed it, she stroked its mane, she whispered love to it under the starless sky, and sharpened her teeth on its gleaming claws.”
From Kamila Shamsie’s retelling of Antigone, Home Fire.