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"...in her solitude she followed herself about the house all day..."

In Maeve Brennan's "An Attack of Hunger", Rose Derdon is quietly despondent over the "loss" of John, her beloved only child, who has left the family home to join the priesthood, leaving her with nothing to do all day but keep house for her bland and indifferent husband, Hubert.

Now with John gone, there was no one for Mrs. Derdon to exchange glances with. There was no one for her to look at, except Hubert, and Hubert could turn into a raving lunatic, frothing and cursing, and there would be no one to see him except herself. There was no one to look at her, and she felt that she had become invisible, and at the same time she felt that in her solitude she followed herself about the house all day, up and down stairs, and she could hardly bear to look in the mirror, because the face she saw there was not the one that was sympathetic to her but her own face, her own strong defenseless face, the face of one whose courage has long ago been petrified into mere endurance in the anguish of truly helpless self-pity. There was no hope for her. That is what she said to herself.

Hubert would never rave, froth or curse, but it almost seems like Rose would enjoy his presence more if he did, just once in a while. The story is from Brennan’s collection The Springs of Affection, which I’m only halfway through. Irish March has overflown into April.

April 3, 2018 in Books | Permalink