To catch up on parts one through four of Testimony of the Living, check out tmn.truman.edu.
My parents’ house was on the very outskirts of Finder’s Point. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Finder’s Point wasn’t a common place to move to. Most people living here were members of families that had been here for generations. When my parents had arrived in town 16 years before, there hadn’t exactly been a plethora of real estate options. They ended up with a small house about two miles outside of town, right off the main road that led down to the factory. We were the only house outside the town proper.
Anywhere else it may have been lonely, but for my situation it was perfect. Without some creative passion or ideology to keep my mind busy, I silently worried that constant exposure to shadows would drain me of any claim to livelihood. Living removed from Finder’s Point allowed me to wander the open land surrounding our house; it allowed me to see things shadows could not, and therefore remind myself I was still alive.
Because it was almost always raining in Finder’s Point, most people didn’t spend much time outside. As a result, they missed most of the life in our town. The shadows had not killed Mother Nature. Not yet, at least. So whenever I couldn’t surround myself with my friends as a means of fresh air, I’d walk around outside with my thoughts for company.
Every time I came back into the house soaked, my mother would ask me to find a new hobby. In fact, she usually told me that she “detested” that hobby, which seemed an awfully strong reaction for a shadow. Yet while it invoked complaints, she would never actually stop me from going outside. She would never suggest something else for me to do. She would just remind me, sometime after the fact, that she would prefer I stay out of the rain. Like a broken record, unable to stop repeating itself. I learned to just ignore it.
Usually, my mother got her wish during the summer, however. With the company of Asher, Autumn, Easton and Jonah, I would spend summer vacations admiring stories and pictures, understanding the beauty of color, discussing the power of actions. I often felt I learned more from summertime dialogues with my friends than in any given class at school. And, at Autumn’s request, we never went outside in the rain.
While my father worked in the factory, my mother spent her days at home. My friends and I often gathered at our house, if for no other reason than to be slightly less surrounded by shadows. We would sit in the living room, talking for hours. And every once in a while, I would catch sight of my mother, standing in the doorway, trying not to interrupt as she listened.
The summer after my sophomore year, after learning of how my friends’ parents failed to understand them, I couldn’t help wondering what she thought of our discussions. What went through her mind when Autumn read us her latest essay or poem? Did she have a desire to see Easton’s photos, or look at colors the way Asher did? How did she feel about Jonah’s convictions about individuality and taking action?
Did any of it ever breathe some life back into the long-dead, free spirit that had once carried my mom away from her hometown by means of a whirlwind romance? Did it ever make her remember the way she used to be?
I often wish I would have asked her.