It was not moments before I found myself in Neil’s intended space in his book “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” His beginning paragraphs set the feeling tone like a shadow behind me growing beyond critical measure. I was fast in a mood like helium lifting my feet up off the ground, and all I could do was squeak when attempting to express myself.

How did he know me or my story?

Night time is dark when no stars are out. The black envelopes you like a large, scratchy, soured quilt thrown over top of you, wrapping you in a way that you cannot cry out while your feet and legs remain naked, exposed to the darkness now, crushing you in ways that make you want to scream crazy pleasure, pain, and shame. Yet he shamelessly wrote through his pain, as if taking out a sliver buried deep in the flesh of your palm with a needle so large it gored a hole all the way to your core.

How will I ever write in a way that does not violate or degrade any current vibration, my own or any others? But rather, uplift and inspire remembrance through each moment lived, each memory dis-membered, each clarifying truth shared simply through examples of words worth speaking. Words vital, coursing with the energy of life like still-green leaves on a tree in the fall where most have already turned brown, orange, yellow, red, cranberry, plum, purple—now lying around on the surface where they had fallen.

It’s not that there is something wrong with the story written; the mood is still too raw, too real to relive. I can’t go back. I cannot finish reading his story no matter how well-written. I have lived it in a moment with just the first few paragraphs he set a tone that was too wild for me to hold longer than this first consuming touch.

I am now in my early sixties and wrestling alone with my reactive, anxious fears. I just wonder if that was the intention so long ago, to leave a child scarred for life in such a way where the body begins to beg to speak because you failed in your attempts to do so. Attempting to stop the pain by addressing the reason my jaws are so tightly clinched, accustomed to locking in what cannot come out, and locking out what must not come in.

What other way is there to allow the relief, the resignation to flow, knowing there is no more reason to struggle or hold back. Safety is no longer a concern, and words spoken are less a fear than emotions not yet acknowledged, as hovering always ready to pounce at the tiniest vibration of subtle movement. Like a doodlebug ever-so still, waiting for its approaching prey, careless of the environment where a sand trap lies just at the farthest parameter of its boundaries.

It’s all the same, spoken conversation or written word. How do you not drown self or other in the ocean’s current, or in the sand where waves turn up and bury you? Is this why siblings who grew up with such a shared experience grow apart or enforce unspoken rules of silence? “Shh,” whispered. “Don’t go there. Don’t touch that. Don’t wake him now. He has chosen one.” Give it a rest and thank the heavens that there are no stars shining. Not this night. We are blessed with no light.

About the Author | Katherine Salerno

Katherine spends her days as a technical writer in the information technology industry. Diagnosed with MS and trigeminal neuralgia in 2006, she is now recovering from cervical spinal cord surgery which has given new mobility to her ability to walk with minimal assistance. Weekdays you can follow her on the Bart to the Embarcadero station where I she will be walking to #1 Market, San Francisco.

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