Well, this one certainly made me go “hmmm.”
“All of Us Told, All of It Real” follows our narrator Martin as he returns home to the small town of Dawson. His mother is dead, and bodies were found in her basement. As he prepares to sell the house and goes through his mother’s hoarded things, he reflects on his life growing up with her–and stumbles upon a disconcerting revelation.
The story is beautifully crafted; Dicken really nails the small-town, “everyone-knows-everyone” feel early in the piece. The level of attention paid to details heightens the story’s creepiness, because when everything feels real, those few things that are off seem even more so.
And at its core, this is a story about story, about memory, about what makes us real. The theme that runs through the piece shows up early and becomes more and more prominent as we slowly clue in to what, exactly, Martin’s mother was doing. It certainly gives new meaning to the “kill your darlings” adage.
Despite a slow start, this story’s central mystery unravels into a satisfying, if a little hair-raising, conclusion.