Trashers: Post Past
Scrappy Story from Foster Foto File
“I've almost got it!” exclaimed Running Waters. “I could feel the suspension. I was up! Well, for a second anyway." He shook his head.
At the Compound rreal names were prohibited. Code names ran to the Native American: Running Waters. Waits Like a Bird. No one had a past, only the interactions of the day's workout. They knew one another only by their gifts.
A secret file emerged for each child, unknown even to them. They were unaware of their former days, the horror of rejection having been blocked out by their own survival amnesia. As the files grew, so did their existences, so did their powers. They came from oblivion into the world by virtue of Story.
Each of these children had been rescued by the Trashers, as they were called, homeless and resourceful young people who picked through garbage bins that lined urban streets before sunrise, before the grinding trucks came. The Trashers could sense a treasure in a particular bin and would dive in to recover the unexamined and unrecognized refuse of the city. They had an eye.
“Good heavens! Half a skein of yarn. And it's not tangled!” Marlena exclaimed, waving a stream of red yarn for the others to see and draw hope from.
“OMG!” Bethany breathed a few minutes later. “A stack, a whole stack of file folders. They've barely been used.”
“I think...I think...I hope. Yes!” Bill leapt down into a green bin across the street. “Ribbons! Still on the spool, a dozen of them!”
Their enthusiastic calls joined those of the early-morning birds.
Fourteen-year old Frankie, whose limp kept him from keeping up with the others, never found much, not having the sense or really even the appreciation for the potential of these goods. But he enjoyed joining his friends in the hunt, lagging behind with the rusty red wagon to collect their finds. Today, he pulled a child's tattered pink suitcase overflowing with discarded snapshots spilling out onto the street. Brushing back his tangled locks, Frank paused to pick them up, making sure every bit of the booty got back to the store.
If you wanted to call it a store. The place had a website and a phone number, some volunteers and regular hours. It accepted money. But its merchandise consisted of these bin collections, somewhat organized into categories and shelves that filled a 10 x 30 basement room, hardly big enough for more that three customers at a time. There, other scavengers came from all around to pick through the collected bounty to enrich their own possibilities. These people were makers and other artists who knew how to make use of the tile samples, old tempera paint, markers, and game boards without pieces. Or pieces without game boards. And the continually growing pile of old snapshots, uninteresting without the challenge of innovation.
Elizabeth and her grandmama stumbled upon the flat of photos at the end of a morning spent sifting through every nook and cranny of the cluttered room.
Elizabeth held up a picture of a young woman tending to an elderly dog, “These would make great story starters,” she suggested, not unlike a real Trasher. They rummaged through the box, rejecting some, remarking on others, gathering ideas, finally winnowing down to twenty provocative images and ten more just because.
“You know, these photos meant something to someone at one time,” Elizabeth mused on the way back to ghe car. “They were valued. And then, like unwanted children, they became neglected and finally thrown away.”
“Foster photos,” her grandmama agreed.
Elizabeth brightened. “And now we will be giving them a second chance.”
"Tarnation! A second chance!” Grandmama exclaimed. We'll take them home and give them another life.”
“My blog!” Elizabeth was off and running. “We will choose one picture a month to feature and write about. We will include our own stories and invite others to write their own stories with us. The pictures and their people will become internationally famous, once we put them on the web.”
Later, that same day the grandmother, dutifully, and Elizabeth gathered writing materials: a smoothly-flowing pen, a yellow tablet and a found photo. They propped themselves with several pillows onto the guest bed, and took a good look at the photo, an accidental shot that captured a pair of young bare legs leaping across the room with a couple of other young people in the background. Their heads had been cut off by the camera.
They sat in silence for a few reflective minutes. The grandmother thought, A secret Black Ops group is learning to fly. These students go by nicknames to protect their identities. I don't know why. That's classified. Each is working on a different flight skill. In the back is Bees Knees maintaining a lift hold. In the foreground Running Waters is practicing long leaps before graduating to levitation and actual flight. Off to one side is Laughing Eyes, who is observing and working on the most fundamental skill of all for personal flight, relaxation.
She set the pentip on the page to let it go to work:
“I've almost got it!” exclaimed Running Waters. “I could feel the suspension. I was up! Well, for a second anyway.”
The story took legs, along with Running Waters, with Grandmama barely managing to hold onto the pen as the characters emerged. Lizzie posted it that evening on the blog.
From that day, other story writers supplied various pasts for the foster photos. Frozen people in the pictures were provided names and contexts that brought meaning back to their forgotten and discarded moments. They did indeed live again to tell the tale.