This is part seven of a serialized fictional story written by freshman staff writer Allison Maschhoff. Part six can be found here.
A few months later, Jonah and I were eating lunch at school. There was a small patio area connected to the cafeteria. The patio was meant to make us feel like we were outside, but because of the climate of Finder’s Point, it was actually a room with walls and a ceiling; the “outdoor” factor was that the walls and ceiling were almost entirely glass.
The strange room was transparent enough to look bigger than it was, but small enough to feel like a box. Only five round tables could fit on the patio, plus a fountain that the school had placed in its center as a final attempt to convince occupants that they were, in fact, outside. It looked as if it had grown up out of the ground, with its chipped paint and the weeds that tangled around its base. Four plates stuck out from equidistant points along the spine of the fountain, growing in diameter from the smallest plate at the top to the largest at the bottom. I knew the exact path the water took. It spouted up from the top of the spine and then cascaded down from plate to plate until it was funneled back up through the spine.
I usually didn’t pay much attention to the fountain; I never ate out here by myself and usually I was too busy listening to someone talk to watch the water follow the same monotonous path for more than a minute or so. But Easton was always taking pictures of it, and on that particular day I found myself unable to focus on what Jonah was saying. He was ranting about some “shadow-bot” that had annoyed him with the way they had “no initiative, no spirit, no drive.” I didn’t have anything helpful to tell him. It was the same issue that Jonah faced every day at school. He’d face it every day that he was forced to be a citizen of Finder’s Point.
So I watched the fountain and let him rant. And I tried to see what Easton saw. The water moved in its cyclical pattern and it seemed to be one body. It reminded me of Finder’s Point — cycling its population from birth to school to factory to death to being reincarnated in the next generation merely to follow the same path.
But after about five minutes of staring at the fountain, I realized I had been missing something. For the first time, I noticed that some of the water didn’t stick with the general body. Some of the drops ricocheted off the smaller plates at the top, landing at the edge of the pool at the bottom instead, clinging to the stone wall that kept the water in. The rebellious beads of water did not make the area outside the fountain wet, though. They always lost their grip and fell back into the pool. Ready to be recycled up to the top again. Ready to jump off again.
I thought about how Jonah would most likely rant about an almost identical situation the next time I saw him. I thought about how Easton probably had hundreds of photos of this fountain, even though nothing about it ever changed. I thought about Autumn’s poem and calling the raindrops bullets. I wondered what she would see in the fountain’s water.
I knew that if the corporate and repetitious body of water that followed the fountain’s path was the general populous of Finder’s Point, we were the ricocheting and rebellious droplets that took every opportunity to leave the fountain. We were anomalies that had been trying to break free our entire lives. Perhaps it had not been creative passions or increased awareness that had kept us alive. Perhaps it had merely been that we never really joined the body of the town; we never really belonged here.
I wondered if we had ever been at risk of fading away into the shadows that surrounded us. Maybe living the rest of our lives in Finder’s Point would not risk anything more than living the same boring and cyclical routine until we died. Maybe some were born to be shadows and some were not.
Nonetheless, something had told us to keep ourselves aware of the ways we were different. Something had told us that we couldn’t stay here forever, even if we hadn’t explicitly stated that we would leave. Our whole lives we had been throwing ourselves off the top of the fountain without hesitation. We had been jumping toward creativity and emotion and passion and life itself. We had been trying to break free for as long as we had known there was somewhere else to be.
Our senior year was devoted to developing our plan. And on the rainy night in May that Autumn, Easton, Asher, Jonah and I walked across a stage and accepted our high school diplomas, our plan became a reality. Those diplomas were a piece of paper saying we now could begin working at the factory. We had no time to waste.