In the eighth chapter of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, an escape is made. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
I remember feeling the weight of my duffel bag pulling my shoulder down, and it hit my right leg with every step. Thump, thump, thump. I had my Jansport filled to the brim as well, my European History book digging into back, and I was already sweating. It had been just five minutes since I’d pushed past my father, who simply asked, “Where are you going?”
I’m doing exactly what mom told me to, I answered, and he stood there in shock. He didn’t stop me.
I didn’t know where I was going at that precise moment, so I walked down Mandalay, past manicured lawns glittering in the late-summer sun like emeralds. Panic filled me as I passed familiar faces, like the Puerto Rican father who loved to play Selena loudly while he washed his car shirtless on Sunday afternoons. He was unloading groceries from his pick-up, and he nodded to me as I walked by, but did he know? Did he know what I was doing? Would he approve?
The absurdity of that thought struck me hard, and I instantly cast it aside. But it spiraled into another thought. Will my mother chase after me? What if dad calls her at work and she comes to find me? Where am I going to go? Is she going to find me at school?
I breathed in, hard, and pushed on, determined to escape. Escape. Was that what I was really doing? Or was I just running from my problems?
I turned on to Crest, and I kept walking. No matter how many doubts were swimming in my brain, I couldn’t seem to stop moving, as if my body was forcing me to keep walking. All the while, I kept sweating. My heart kept beating. The air kept filling my lungs.
I was alive. That was a good first step, wasn’t it?
Just a block from my high school, a car pulled over, and I recognized the white sedan. Pattison. Isidro was in the passenger seat. “Yo, where you going?” Isidro asked, a smile on his face. “Practice is already over.”
I ran away from home.
I’ll never forget the look on their faces. It wasn’t shock at all. No, it was relief. They’d both seen my mom a few days earlier, when she’d burst into my friend’s house, dragging me by the hair, yelling at me, calling Andy a “kidnapper.” This? This was a necessary response.
“Get in,” Pattinson told me, and the door squeaked loudly as I pulled it open, throwing my duffel bag, which was stuffed full with clothes and CDs. They both turned to look at me, concern on their faces, and Isidro was the first to ask it. He wasn’t the last.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
No, I thought. No, this is only going to make things worse. No, she’s going to find me, and she’ll make it worse.
I took a breath before I said: Yes. I have to do this. I have to get free.
Pattinson pulled the car away from the sidewalk.
- God, what an INCREDIBLE chapter. This is some of Gaiman’s most focused writing, and he’s able to convey the frantic energy of the narrator’s escape with ease. I had touched on the sparse style in my first review, but I want to bring it up again because this chapter benefits greatly from the diction. Gaiman describes what he needs to with a poetic intensity, and it’s frightening. I love it.
- I know that this whole project for this book is about me recalling memories in story form, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane has a lot of eerie parallels to my life. A sister who taunts her brother for getting in trouble? You stole that from my life.
- So, Ursula can essentially read the narrator’s thoughts, yes? I love that he figures out that he needs to think about having a dream in order to trick her.
- If I hadn’t decided to tell the above story, I would have completely latched on to the part where the narrator talks about how books provided the clues he need to know how to do things or how to act a certain way. THAT WAS TOTALLY ME GROWING UP.
- It goes without saying that this is a terrifying chapter, but y’all, URSULA MONKTON IS THE LITERAL WORST EVER. Look, it’s creepy enough that she does that whole omniscient floating thing, but then she starts to verbally abuse the narrator, and I was about a billion times done. But guess what unnerves me the most? I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT SHE WANTS. I don’t know what she’s doing here. I don’t know what the Forever. I don’t know why tearing the narrator’s life apart is necessary. That’s some scary shit, y’all.
- How did the cat know where the narrator was? And is the Hempstock land sacred in some way?
- I loved that Lettie held the narrator’s hand again in order to keep him safe. That was a nice bit of continuity.
- I feel like I’m no closer to understanding what the fuck is going on, but I don’t care. This is so goddamn good. ONWARDS I GO.
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