His body felt like a single muscle…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from novelist Stephen Gauer.

This weekend I read the book Hold Me Now, by Stephen Gauer. A crime fiction novel — not a genre I typically read — the story is set in Vancouver. Inspired by  the 2001 murder of Aaron Webster, a gay man beaten to death by four young men, Gauer’s book studies how the gay man’s father copes with the death of his young son, following a beating. Plain and simple, it is a study of grief.

Here is the description of the main character, the father (a lawyer), going to the morgue to identify his son. The simile sent an icicle through my heart:

He was exerting such a strenuous effort to keep calm that his body felt like a single muscle contracted to the point of tearing; each motion toward the wall, toward the body now waiting for him inside a bag, required the strength of three men, not one.

As the mother of three, I hope I never have to endure a similar effort on behalf of any of my children but I always recognize the possibility.

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