by Amelia Granger

You don’t know what it’s like here. The name, Madokawando Landing—my grandmother would give you a dollar if you could spell it. You turn off Route 1 and slow your car, down its U-shaped path that rolls quietly under the spruce needles, under the mossy oak boughs, down to the ocean. Our house clusters there with the handful of others, ancient fishing cottages, their front lawns strewn with washed-up lobster buoys, dotted with rowboats propped on sawhorses, hulls filling up with acorns, awaiting repair. 

The ocean looms outside the front picture window; a giant expanse sparkling with shifting, quicksilver constellations to mirror the night sky. My grandmother sat on the daybed in the living room over the years she spent dying, and watched the ocean from the picture window. She watched it, she watched it, she watched it, and then one day she was gone. The daybed’s gone, too. They’ve cut down some of the trees on the verge, but not the tree my mother’s cousin Dana tried to hang himself from after Aunt Priscilla, his mother, died in the fire up in Auburn; his noose rotted from the limb for years till finally someone had the vitality to pluck it down. At least, there was a rope there, and that’s what my sister told me it was doing there, and that’s what I imagine happened to it, but she might have just been pointing at any rope, trying to scare me. You need to understand that, because I don’t want to startle you or chase you away. We lighten all our darkness with uncertainty and forgetfulness. 

Down on our rocky beach, you can crawl over the drifts of shale and watch as the tide licks up higher and higher. I grew up doing this climbing, adjusting my technique each summer to compensate for stretching bones and added flesh. 

Crabs scuttle under the bile-green seaweed. When the tide’s out, seaweed carpets our beach, but tread on it at your peril: it makes the rocks slippery and the hidden crabs will pinch you. Those crabs, their alien forms, haunted the dreams of my youngest cousin. She woke in the night screaming as I babysat her, the sound she made echoing through the dark hallways of our house, bringing me running. You saw her yesterday, you might not have recognized her, she was the one with her hair in a braid, car keys in her hand, on her way. 

All of my family has dreams of this place; all of us have the same dreams. The ocean floods the cup of our dreamscape, and while we’re unalike in almost every way you could imagine, and moreover we’re stiff and formal, we don’t talk about our feelings. We know we share this. Know it without talking about it. Hunched under the low-ceilinged kitchen as the washing machine thrums, we eat Italian sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper and talk about soccer practice, put our hands in our pockets and sigh, while if you rummaged around in our subconsciouses you would find the same green-bearded monsters, the same rough and terrifying whales breaching from tide pools. 

Amelia Granger is a writer who lives in San Francisco with her spooky black cat. You can find her on Twitter: @amelia_granger.
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