To catch up on Part one of Testimony of the Living, check out tmn.truman.edu
My friends were alive because they saw an ordinary world in an extraordinary way. They didn’t see the fading world of the shadows; they saw the thriving world of the living.
Asher saw the world in color. To him, yellow was not merely yellow; it was so much more. It was gold, or lemon, or xanthous. It was a color, but it was also everything that made up a color: a visual, a feeling, a memory. And his love for these colors kept him from falling into the monochrome world of the shadows.
Autumn saw the world as words to be organized into sentences. The world outside her window was abstract and dramatic and filled with stories. She did not see a compass factory at the center of town, but “a gathering place for shadows hidden amongst the living, where they assembled a tool that, ironically, had yet to point them back toward the land of the living.” Her words helped her to see truths that most people overlooked, and these truths emancipated her from the reign of the shadows.
Easton saw the world through a lens and a flash; he never let go of his camera. He loved how it gave him the ability to not only capture moments, but also to change how things looked. He could make the world brighter and warmer and clearer; he could turn darkness into light. Amidst the gloom of our world, this ability to see light in any situation is what kept him alive.
Jonah saw the world through actions. This is why he thought my parents were lucky. My parents went through life believing they had all they needed; their actions reflected happiness to the uninformed viewer. The other shadows in Finder’s Point remembered happiness, remembered life… and their actions showed it. They were the deeds of shadows who had given up fighting for something more. They held no conviction, no purpose. Because my parents’ actions didn’t fit that mold, Jonah misread them as being genuine. Yet my parents’ happiness was no more than a façade of contentedness that was held up by feelings that proved to be incredibly empty, if one looked a little closer. Meanwhile Jonah’s actions always showed his feelings; he revealed everything his soul contained without embarrassment. He believed deeply in individuality and open expression, and his determination to be unique kept him from melting into the uniformity of the shadow population.
All these personal, unique and beautiful things kept my friends alive. It made them more than flesh and bones living out a predetermined destiny. While the rest of Finder’s Point remained stagnant and suffocating, they were each a breath of fresh air. They stayed alive by seeing a dreary world in a beautiful way, by seeing what was beyond the shadows and embracing it.
My name is Greyson. I am not like them.
We lived in a gray world. I think that’s why my parents named me what they did. They were newly transformed shadows moving into a shadow town and maybe they were aware of it. Maybe they saw the grayness enveloping them and knew exactly what I was being born into. I can’t help wondering what changed them. I remember when I was nine years old and I asked my parents where they came from. They responded with a story of falling in love, of wanting to see the world, of eloping and of choosing each other over everyone else in their lives. And then that story ended in a small, lifeless town on the West Coast that would not be able to handle such people. Even then, I felt a disconnect — a hole in the plot. How could that be the whole story? How could two people like that have come here without shocking Finder’s Point back to life? Their spiritedness, their love of life… it would have electrocuted this place. No, they could not have come here that way. Something had to have happened before; something must have killed their spark.
That was the only time I’d heard their story. Even when telling it, they didn’t seem to mourn how their lives had turned out. These were just facts. The fact that they had eloped was delivered with the same amount of emotion as the fact that it was raining. Whatever had been filled within them back then, seemed to be empty now.
I wonder if finding that missing link would explain why I seemed to be so naturally aware of the fact that shadows surrounded me at all times. Maybe it was transfused into my DNA; maybe the little baby that came of their love was the last ounce of vitality within them, expelled for fear of being swallowed by the grayness that had devoured all other life within them.
My friends stayed alive by seeing the beauty. The colors, words, pictures and actions that made up a world meant for life to thrive in. I stayed alive by seeing the shadows, by knowing that I never wanted to be one. Life was not naturally bubbling up within me through some artistic or abstract passion. I was clinging onto it with everything in me. Somewhere in my DNA were all the beautiful things that drove my parents down a path that, in another story, may have ended somewhere beautiful, and I believed that I could find it. I was searching constantly, gasping for it like oxygen. So I clung to Asher, Autumn, Easton and Jonah; I surrounded myself with as much fresh air as possible. I chose to create a living world within the shadowy one we were stuck in, before I fell into the abyss and never made it back out.