Chapter 9: Map of Sorrow, Evening Sky

I wrap my arms around Aneta and listen to her scream. It pierces right through me and my ears begin to bleed. Her screams tell a story. . .a story impossible to tell with words. Aneta has spent years on Ocean. She has been lonely. . . unbelievably hurt by those who belonged in her life before Ocean. For months at a time, her mind has been attacked and left to shreds. 

Every hurting part of her has been invisible to me before now. But I see her terror in this moment. My life-eyes have opened to the parts of life that need healed and helped and held. 

Aneta–the girl who offers sunflowers and violets, plans soup for sunset, and asks about my grief–needs to be seen past the love she holds for others and the hope she shares just by being alive to life. Read more

Chapter 8: Grace and Horror

Morning gives way to afternoon and the reality of Ocean meets up against my heart in a heavy way. But I’m resolved to make space. . .to be willing. I don’t chase away the heaviness, but I don’t let it choke my mind. Fragile joy is growing in the new spaces and light fills in all the inconsistencies.

I glance to the other side of our floating home and notice Aneta is picking flowers from her own dress. She gingerly plucks at the sunflowers and violets. She chooses the prettiest ones and thoughtfully makes an arrangement. 

I don’t understand.

Doesn’t she know picked flowers become dead flowers? Why would she take her own beauty and make it die? Aneta sings to herself quietly while rearranging her bouquet again and again until it meets her approval. She is happy, undaunted, but I instinctively pull my knees to my chest, protecting my own beautiful things. Read more

Chapter 7: Making Space

I stare at my reflection, mouth gaping open. This couldn’t be me, right? But it is. It is me. I kneel on the edge of Peace and lean closer to the water. My fingers tap at Ocean and it echoes with ripples that sparkle in the morning light. Or is that light from all that’s new in me?

“You’ve seen it then?”

I jump at the sound of Aneta’s voice, but have no chance to reply. Aneta always has so much to say.

“You’ve finally seen the life in your eyes. Oh, Maryn! That changes everything! Because when you finally see the life in your eyes, then you can finally see life well.”

I nod my head at Aneta’s voice, not fully grasping what it means to see life with life-filled eyes. But Aneta is proof that life-eyes are real and true. She defies this wilderness of waves with her vibrancy and passionate enjoyment of each day.

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Chapter 6: This Is Peace. You’re Safe.

The woman has been motionless for a few days. When the Ocean storms rage, we cover her with our hand-made seaweed blankets. The seaweed is sun-dried, abundant, and surprisingly warm though lightweight.

I watch as the dying woman breathes. Aneta’s shift is about to begin. Our time is devoted to this woman’s lungs. Keeping her warm, shielding her from the sun, making sure her shallow breaths get through and begin again.

My Island is barely a shadow in my memory now. I contemplate Old Maryn. Is she still about to die? Is she still ragged and desperate? Is she still in the meadow or was that destroyed too? I shake my head to rid the questions. I do not want to get lost in the nightmares of my Island. . .it is enough to endure Ocean for another night.

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