I can even see Timmy skating with Linda under the yellow floodlights.
I’m young and happy. I’ll never die. I’m skimming across the surface
of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades,
doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark
and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying
to save Timmy’s life with a story.
In the closing story, “The Lives of
the Dead,” O’Brien broadens the scope of his work by juxtaposing
his first encounter with death as a soldier with his first-ever
experience with death when, at age nine, his friend Linda succumbed
to a brain tumor. In this particular passage, O’Brien explains how
memory and storytelling are comforts for times of mourning and how
they have equipped him to deal with the painful past. In this extended
metaphor, he considers how his need to tell stories evolved through
daydreams of Linda. He is optimistic that the power of memory in
storytelling gives immortality to both the one who has died—in this
case Linda, making her vibrant and able to skate with Timmy in a
warmly lit dream—and the one who tells the story—in this case O’Brien,
enabling O’Brien to cope with his traumatic past.