Quotes from “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman

I have dreamed of that song, of the strange words to that simple rhyme-song, and on several occasions I have understood what she was saying, in my dreams. In those dreams I spoke that language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. In my dream, it was the tongue of what is, and anything spoken in it becomes real, because nothing said in that language can be a lie. It is the most basic building brick of everything. In my dreams I have used that language to heal the sick and to fly; once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed and breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that tongue, ‘Be whole,’ and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.
And it wasn’t the sea. It was the ocean.
Lettie Hempstock’s ocean.
I remembered that, and, remembering that, I remembered everything.
was lost for good

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On my left the younger woman said, “You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”
crooned a wordless song.
‘Nothing’s ever the same,’ she said. ‘Be it a second later or a hundred years. It’s always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans.’
I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.
I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled.
They’re all mouth, they are.’
of your chances are used up
‘I couldn’t get you to the ocean,’ she said. ‘But there was nothing stopping me bringing the ocean to you.’
you have something to fear, rather than something that could be anything, it is easier.
wondered how I looked to her, in that place, and knew that even in a place that was nothing but knowledge, that was the one thing I could not know. That if I looked inward I would see only infinite mirrors, staring into myself for eternity.
Adults should not weep, I knew. They did not have mothers who would comfort them.
It won’t hurt.’
I stared at him. Adults only ever said that when it, whatever it happened to be, was going to hurt so much.
‘How can you be happy in this world? You have a hole in your heart. You have a gateway inside you to lands beyond the world you know. They will call you, as you grow. There can never be a time when you forget them, when you are not, in your heart, questing after something you cannot have, something you cannot even properly imagine, the lack of which will spoil your sleep and your day and your life, until you close your eyes for the final time, until your loved ones give you poison and sell you to anatomy, and even then you will die with a hole inside you, and you will wail and curse at a life ill-lived. But you won’t grow. You can come out, and we will end it, cleanly, or you can die in there, of hunger and of fear. And when you are dead, your circle will mean nothing, and we will tear out your heart and take your soul for a keepsake.’
She took my hands in hers, then, and squeezed them. ‘But you stayed where you were meant to be, and you didn’t listen to them. Well done. That’s quality, that is,’ and she sounded proud. In that moment I forgot my hunger and I forgot my fear.
‘What do I do now?’ I asked her.
‘Now,’ she said, ‘you step into the bucket. You don’t have to take your shoes off or anything. Just step in.’
It did not even seem a strange request. She let go of one of my hands, kept hold of the other. I thought, I will never let go of your hand, not unless you tell me to.
‘I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truthis, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.’
One as come through in Cromwell’s day – now there was something to talk about. He made folk lonely, that one. They’d hurt themselves just to make the loneliness stop – gouge out their eyes or jump down wells, and all the while that great lummocking thing sits in the cellar of the Duke’s Head, looking like a squat toad big as a bulldog.’
You were her way here, and it’s a dangerous thing to be a door.’
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