What is this? This is the beginning of a story. Not a story about Truman State University, nor a story of real people from anywhere, but a work of fiction. A short story from the brain of a person with too much going on inside her head. And this is only the beginning of it.
Each edition will bring you a new piece of the story until it has been fully told. Then, perhaps, I’ll tell you a new story. For now, welcome to the world of five teenagers living in Finder’s Point, Washington, a town that one of them describes as a “hideout for the lifeless.” This is the story of the creative, passionate, and animated living among the dreary, dull, and almost dead. This is the story of a group of friends whose own parents didn’t know what to do with them. A group of friends who are committed to staying alive.
The Testimony of the Living, Part One
All my life, I had only four friends. I say that as if they were somehow not enough. I had only four friends, but they were more than most can hope for. They were truly kindred spirits. And as I embarked upon the journey that was the sixteenth year of my life, they appeared to be the only other human beings I knew that were alive.
Everyone else was a sort of shadow. Reminders of what human beings were, but not actually as remarkable as the real thing. My parents were the type of shadow that had forgotten how alive they had once been. They had forgotten that there was anything more than what they were now. Jonah once argued that this was the best type of shadow to be. He said that, at the very least, they could enjoy their current reality rather than dwell on what they no longer were. But when Jonah said that, he’d never really seen that type of shadow. Not the way I had. I had watched my parents every day of my life. I knew how they lived, how they felt; I knew how little they felt. And I knew Jonah was very, very wrong.
The shadow that believed it lived its life to the fullest, that believed it was happy… it was not the best type of shadow.
It was the worst.
The other type of shadow that surrounded us was the type of shadow that remembered. The type of shadow that knew deep in their hearts that they were not the same, that they were not what they were supposed to be. They didn’t do much more than survive, but at least they didn’t live a lie.
Finder’s Point, Washington, was full of those shadows. It was full of people who remembered being alive, but couldn’t find a way to come back from the dead. My parents were different from the rest. They were the fading remainders of two eighteen-year-olds that ran away with so much hope inside them that they thought their hearts would burst. Two eighteen-year-olds that thought they were running toward a life filled with adventure and love and excitement, but ended up in a small town where 90 percent of people worked in the same factory and everything was an emotionless black and white haze. They moved into their new home with their brand new baby boy and somehow as I grew they slowly faded away, trapped by the stagnant lifestyle of Finder’s Point.
They met new people, other shadows who were also too young to be the way they were, with babies that were so much livelier than they were. Everyone got along and, in the background, the five of us kids grew up. And as we became increasingly more aware of the world around us, we began to understand that Finder’s Point, Washington, was a shadow of a town that we were much too alive for.
We met in April, two days after my parents began their life in Finder’s Point, while rain trickled from the clouds above and our parents chattered to its rhythm. At that time, we knew nothing other than shadows. It was Friday the thirteenth, a fitting day for a gathering of shadows.
Sixteen years later, on the thirteenth of April, while rain trickled from the clouds above, we gathered around a kitchen table and admitted the truths we still weren’t quite sure how to handle: we lived amongst shadows of people.
And we vowed to never become like the shadows that had raised us, educated us and surrounded us our whole lives.
We vowed to stay alive.