Havok Publishing

The Color Gold

By Kaitlyn Emery

The table was cold against my back.

“Mrs. Young, before we begin the Neurological Reinvigoration Process, we have to ask you some final questions.”

I nodded.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Young, but we need you to give us verbal confirmation for all questions. Do you understand?”

I started to nod, then caught myself. “Y-yes. I understand.”

“Do you understand that the NRP procedure could alter memories not included in your predetermined retention selection panel to achieve full reinvigoration?”

“Yes.”

“Do you understand this process could restructure events in your past for a smooth transition to your new future?”

A tear slid down my face. I tried to brush it away, only to remember my arms had been strapped to the table. “I won’t lose the good ones, right?”

“Of course not. Our goal is to increase happiness. When we’re done, you’ll still have the memories that bring you joy.”

“And I’ll still remember my family?”

“Yes, Mrs. Young. You can return to your husband later today.”

“Okay.”

“Do you maintain that you give us full consent to proceed with the NRP procedure?”

“Yes.” The room is cold, but sweat beads on my upper lip.

“Very good. Now try to relax. Remember, when we are done, all of your pain and heartache will be gone.”

“Th-thank you.”

“Of course, Mrs. Young. Now, count backwards from three for me.”

“Three, two—”

The light above me faded, and my vision blurred into blackness. A sound tickled at my ears. Soft at first, but growing louder.

Thump thump. Thump thump.

A fuzzy, golden light started at the front of my mind, growing as it came towards me.

Thump thump. Thump thump.

Was that a heartbeat?

An image took shape in golden hues, and my heart fluttered. A monitor. On its screen appeared tiny hands and feet, a perfectly sculpted head, an upturned nose… she was beautiful! It was like her face had been caressed into existence. My Cassidy. My baby girl. I felt warm and happy. Whole. I hadn’t felt like this in so long…

My vision blurred, the colors and shapes around me shifting and vanishing. Another image emerged. There she was. An extraordinary miracle in a world full of ordinary ones, a bright spark in the sterile hospital room. Six pounds, nine ounces. Joel held her in his arms, his infectious smile full of wonder. I could live in this moment forever—

Wisps of gold, like Cassidy’s hair, swirled down an invisible drain and sucked the image from me. No! I tried to cling to the memory, but it slipped through my fingers. For a moment, my world was jarred, emptied.

Another flash.

I could see myself sitting in the dark, Cassidy draped over me. I rocked her to sleep, her long lashes resting on her round, rosy cheeks. I remember being so tired… so irritated that she had woken up for the third time that night. Or at least… I thought I remembered it? It was starting to feel fuzzy…

In a series of rapid-fire moments, I watched Cassidy’s life. Her first steps, first birthday, then a second and the third. It all rushed by in flashes of golden light. Cassidy squealed, her eyes alight with pure ecstasy as Joel’s furry present jumped from the box, its pink tongue licking her face. There were some tantrums and messy moments mixed in there, too, but overall, everything made me smile.

Then I heard it. The squeaking of Cassidy’s red sneakers as she held my hand and walked down the linoleum-floored hall. Something inside me snapped like a glow stick. That sound was seared into my memory.

No… no, I don’t want to see this!

The colorful balloons and smiling animals on the walls mocked my pain. The doctor wanted to run some tests. I left the hospital fighting tears and called Joel. He needed to come home, now.

Dr. Owen said something about aggressive condition, weakness, treatment options… I couldn’t process it. My mind was numb. All I remember thinking was that I couldn’t lose my happy, intelligent, vivacious little sunshine.

This was the pain I wanted to forget.

I held the last golden curls in my hands and stared at my beautiful bald princess. Her bright smile grew weaker as the images flashed in front of me. I sobbed—at least, I think I did…

Cassidy cried and asked to hold my hand. Joel hung his head, his broad shoulders slumping. The sparkle in my baby’s eyes dulled. But I could still hear her heartbeat, comforting and gentle. A steady thump thump. The best memory I had. Vibrant and alive.

And then it was gone.

Silence. Blackness. Nothing. The warmth of the golden glow vanished.


The table was cold against my back.

“Mrs. Young, how do you feel?”

What?

“Mrs. Young, in order to ensure your procedure was successful, we have a few routine questions to ask. Then you can return home to your husband.”

My eyes slowly opened. “Questions?”

“Yes. You’ll feel a little groggy. Don’t be alarmed, that’s quite normal.”

“Where am I? Where’s Joel?”

“You’ll see him soon, Mrs. Young.”

I looked around the room, confused. “I thought… I was supposed to feel happy after the procedure?”

“All in due time, Mrs. Young. Do you remember Cassidy?”

The name didn’t register. “Who?”

“No one, Mrs. Young. Just a standard post op question to ensure the procedure was effective. Do you remember anything from during your procedure?”

I shook my head. “Just the color gold.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Obsessed with dragons and fantasy, Kaitlyn Emery started writing at a young age. When she grew up, she learned reality was darker than fiction. Through writing, she learned to give hope to the broken and show readers how to find their own voice in a world that would silence them. Kaitlyn lives in the historic district of a quaint little town with her miracle son, now surrounded by love and a menagerie of rescues.


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