Aftermath by Rachel Cusk

“This is an intensely writerly book - highly wrought, allusive - in which everything, from a badly made cake to a bunch of flowers, represents something other than itself. Readers who admire the difficult discipline of self-scrutiny will find precision, beauty and a complicated truth in Cusk's narrative. The censorious will enjoy it, too, for different reasons.”

My sister comes to stay and we take our children to the swings. Later, at the train station, she says to me: you have to learn to hide what you feel from the children. They will feel what they think you feel. They are only reflections of you.

I don't believe that, I say.

If they think you're happy, they'll be happy, my sister says.

Their feelings are their own, I say.

What I feel is that I have jumped from a high place, thinking I could fly, and after a few whirling instants have realised I am simply falling. What I feel is the hurtling approach of disaster. And I have believed they were falling with me, my daughters; I have believed I was looking into their hearts, into their souls, and seen terror and despair there. Is it possible that my children are not windows but mirrors? That what I have seen is my own fall, my own terror, not theirs?