The week commencing June 15th (Daily Creativity prompt #61) was our twelfth week of flash contests, with an intriguing challenge set by former contributor, Anna Rowell, 15. This is a prompt that got a lot of people’s juices flowing! Anna joined us on the judging panel, and with her help and thoughtful advice we managed to work our way through a wide and strong field of entries. Well done to everyone who sent an entry in: you did not make it easy for us to decide. In particular, thank you, Anna, for your help, and for a fantastic flash contest prompt–we look forward to doing it again sometime!
“Seeing Through Gray” by Isabel Bashaw, 10, Enumclaw, WA
“It’s All Ridiculous” by Lucy Berberich, 11, Oxford, OH
“Flowers for Mamma” by Sophia Do, 12, Lititz, PA
“The Sky is Blue” by Nora Heiskell, 12, Philadelphia, PA
“Project Achromatopsia” by Alice Xie, 12, West Windsor, NJ
“Miya’s Gift” by Savannah Black, 9, Yuba City, CA
“Colorless” by Anna Haakenson, 12, Beach Park, IL
“A World Without Color” by Aditi Kumar, 10, Ashland, VA
“In a World Without Color…” by Charlotte McAninch, 12, Chicago, IL
“Color” by Michela You, Lexington, MA
Seeing Through Gray
Isabel Bashaw, 10, Enumclaw, WA
The new neighborhood with its new streets, sidewalks, houses, and noises were all varying shades of gray. Terrible. Dull. Hopeless. As terrible, dull and hopeless as I felt. I had just moved from my hometown to a different, smaller town hundreds of miles away from everything I loved. I hopped on my gray bike, strapped my gray helmet on my gray hair, and started riding across the gray sidewalks. I peddaled faster and faster, through a blur of gray. Everything was wrong. Why did my family have to move? Was a new job really more important than leaving the entire ten years of my life behind? The blur of gray became a whirl as I peddaled harder, barely looking upward. I glanced up and stared at the gray flowers as they whizzed by: colorless. I was beginning to hate the color gray. Then a sharp turn, and CRASH!, a big fall, and my cries into the gray world around me. The sidewalk was grayer than ever as I stared at it, almost as dark as the blood dripping down my leg. No wonder I crashed–it was hard to see where I was going when everything was the same series of non-colors. I looked up as a small gasp echoed through the block. A girl was walking toward me. I blushed with embarrassment–my cheeks turning from gray to grayer and back again.
¨Are you OK?¨ She asked, staring at my knee.
¨No¨ I said, my voice small.
¨Oh. . .¨ she said in response. I wiped away my tears. ¨I’ll get you a band-aid if you want.¨ I nodded gratefully, and she dashed back inside. I waited, and then she returned. As I put the band-aid over the scrape, she asked me: ¨So did you just move here?¨
¨Yeah¨ I muttered.
¨Well I just moved here too!” she said, her face lighting up. ¨Maybe we can be each other’s first new friend? I saw a really fun park nearby!¨ Her name was Rosalie, and it turned out that she lived only a few blocks from my new house.
¨Time for dinner Rosalie!¨
¨Well I gotta go,¨ said Rosalie, ¨but maybe if you’re not busy tomorrow morning you can ride your bike over and we can go to the park together?¨ Suddenly, as Rosalie smiled at me, the world brightened. The sky was bluish gray. The faint yellow sun shone down on Rosalie’s beautiful brown skin, the pinkish-white flowers moved in the breeze and my bike was a muted teal, no longer the horrible gray it used to be.
I grinned and said ¨Sounds great! See you tomorrow, Rosalie!¨ Maybe this new place wasn’t so bad after all.
It’s All Ridiculous
Lucy Berberich, 11, Oxford, OH
My name is Eva Wilson. I’m your all-around average teenage girl. I walk the three blocks to my middle school wearing the required outdoor gas mask every morning. My favorite subject is survival skills and my least favorite is bomb diffusion (it’s too stressful). I have a small group of close friends and we always sit in the back table of the cafeteria, watching people and making theories about who’s an alien and who is possessed by a demon or whatever. We’re kind of that one group no one notices, so it’s really easy to watch people. Sometimes we all walk home together, but most of my friends’ parents don’t want them being outside too much, because of the pollution and such, gas mask or not. My parents don’t mind me being out and about. They figured that if I hadn’t gotten poisoned by the air pollution at this point, I never would. Our world is kind of deteriorating at the moment. Everyone’s trying to save it all the time, but I don’t think we ever actually will. The damage humans did to this Earth is pretty much there forever. There’s no fixing it. I guess we’re all kind of waiting until we have the technology to send humans to another planet.
Apparently there used to be this thing called color, but humans evolved and there was no longer a need to see it anymore. I’m not so sure I believe that, though. My mom says that the few people who say that they can see color are just vying for attention and should be ignored. My mom’s a skeptic like that, and I guess it rubbed off on me. Anyway, I think the idea of color is ridiculous. I mean, what’s the point of it?
I remember a student in our class who claimed she was one of the few humans left who could see colors. No one really believed her, yet she never gave in, kept up her lie like she’d die if she let it go. It was ridiculous, but part of me did admire her obstinacy; it was a quality we had in common.
My parents told me to keep away from kids like her. They were not only skeptics, but they were also recluses. They avoided almost all people by habit, but most deliberately they avoided people who they saw as ‘different’. Or ‘strange’. ‘Unhealthy’. I did as they told me no matter how ridiculous they sounded because I knew arguing would only make them more determined to keep me away from the ‘strange’ kids. I admit that I did feel a little bad for the girl when no one wanted to be friends with her, but she sort of asked for it by telling such a stupid lie. Still, my friend group never teased her. It was kind of an unspoken agreement. We’d respect each other because we were of the same kind now. After she refused to admit she was lying, everyone treated her like she wasn’t there. She was invisible, just like us. Invisible people look out for other invisible people. That’s the rule. Even if they are crazy liars.
It’s not only the fact that color is pointless that makes me not believe in it; it’s also the strange stories from ‘history’ that some people share about color. They say that a long long time ago when there was color, people would be killed, beaten, and enslaved because they were a different ‘color’ than everyone else. As if. No human would do that, it’s stupid. Senseless brutality. Humans are far too intelligent creatures to do something so asinine.
Sometimes I do wonder though. . . what it would be like if color did exist. It would be such a beautiful thing to see each and every day. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle so much beauty all the time. Although, I tell myself, humans would probably take it for granted, like they do everything in this world.
Flowers for Mamma
Sophia Do, 12
The sky was a mix of pink and blues. The emerald colored grass glittered in the setting sun. The arctic blue lake rippled in the breeze. A black mountain surrounded the mismatched tiles of the village. Hazelynn stood at the edge of the lake that reflected her determination, her toes almost touching the watery edge. She wished that her parents could see the beautiful colors of the sky. Her mind flashed back to the conversation that she had with her mom just a few days ago.
“Hazelynn,” Her mother said sharply, “stop looking outside the window and get ready for school. Are you daydreaming about the color of the sky again?”
Hazelynn pulled herself from the window and sighed.
“My little girl, always with her head in the clouds–the gray clouds in the gray sky with the gray sun shining down! What’s there to look at? Lynn, sweetie, you know that no one has seen color for years. I know that you say you can, but even if you did, keep it to yourself. Everyone is doing fine without seeing color. It would just create a ruckus,” her mother said and gave Hazelynn a small hug.
“Are the people really doing fine?” Hazelynn asked, pulling on her school skirt. “Our whole village doesn’t seem happy. Even you Mamma, I know that you love to smell the flowers and feel their soft petals, but you’re missing out on the colors! Lavender matches your eyes. Papa’s best shirt is the color of the sky. I want you to see it, Mamma! I know that you would love it!” Hazelynn insisted, “What if the Opal is real? Color can change our lives for the better.” Hazelynn gazed out of the window, the fluffy, white clouds looked like sheep. And the roses were sprinkled in dew. Mamma would love this, she thought to herself.
“Hazelynn, stop listening to the stories that your grandparents tell you,” Her mother scolded. “There is no such thing as the Opal. Now hurry up and get dressed, you’re going to be late for school.”
Hazelynn shook the memory off. Mamma might think that everything is fine without color, but she doesn’t realize what she’s missing out on! I want to do this for her. I want everyone to experience color and see how it’ll change their lives! She took a deep breath and dove into the lake. The water was cold and hard against her skin. Hazelynn lifted her head up for air and kept swimming across.
She reappeared on the other side of the lake and climbed onto the tree-lined shore. The mountain loomed above her. She had never been this close to the base before. Suddenly, mist emerged from the darkness of the trees and surrounded Hazelynn. The first test, she thought, just like Grandma said.
“You’ll be examined,” said a deep voice.
Hazelynn stood still as the mist weaved around her, tickling her arms. She could see the water from her clothes evaporate into the mist until she was dry. When the mist seemed satisfied, it subsided and a small figure leaped out of the shadows. A small, steel gray wolf with a belly as white as snow stood in front of Hazelynn.
The pup stared up at her. “Hello!” she yipped, “My name is Peanut! I’m going to–” A growl came from the shadows. Peanut stopped and cleared her throat. In a much deeper voice she said, “I’m your guide to the Dark Elves Cave.”
“Okay.” Hazelynn said, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome!” Peanut yipped again, then using her growly wolf voice said, “Follow me.” Hazelynn followed Peanut into the shadows. They went through the dense forest as they climbed up the side of the mountain. Soon the trees gave way to rocks and packed dirt. Peanut happily talked about her life in the guardian wolves pack and how this was her first test towards being a Dark Guide.
“And then!” Peanut said, telling Hazelynn how she had beat an evil bug, “I pounced on it and–oh, we’re here.” They had reached a cave on the side of the mountain. Hazelynn peeked inside the pitch black entrance and gulped. It looked like it never ended.
“I’ll wait for you here.” Peanut said and backed away from the cave. “The Dark Elves will tell you the directions to the Opal. You won’t see what they look like. Which is a good thing,” she added. “Good luck!”
Hazelynn gave Peanut a quick scratch behind her ears, as much for her own comfort as well as a sign of appreciation for the young wolf, and walked into the cave. Dark velvet wisps enveloped her as she entered the darkness. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, little blue crystals embedded in the walls started to glow, lighting the cave.
“Left, left, right,” said a thunderous voice.
“Thank you,” Hazelynn’s voice shook. She walked to the left path, following it until it forked. She turned to the left again, and then to the right at the next intersection. When she thought the tunnel would go on forever, she saw a bright light at the end. Hazelynn ran to the light and saw the Opal, lying on a pedestal.
It was shaped like an egg and was as large as her hand. The purple blended into a pink, the middle, a fiery yellow. It radiated heat and happiness. Hazelynn stepped closer to the Opal, a huge smile growing on her face. This is it. She thought, I’ve done it! Mamma will be so proud. Now she can fully enjoy her favorite flowers in color.
The Sky is Blue
Nora Heiskell, 12
Imagine if you were in a world where no one could talk. Everyone communicated through signs, there was never a single word spoken. Now imagine that you can talk. You can make noises come out of your mouth. You know the noises mean something, but there’s no one to teach you what they mean. That is how it was for me; well, sort of. Let me start at the beginning.
I was born in the coldest part of the year. Winter was always a challenge for my village, but that winter was especially difficult. People were scarce on food, and someone had even died of the cold. I was the sixth child in my family. I had three brothers and two sisters. My father was the owner of the store, and my mother was the village seamstress. We, my brothers and sisters and I, had everything we needed. I was a normal child. I wasn’t too smart, but I wasn’t bottom of my class. I liked to play games with children my age.
All that changed when I was twelve. I had been dared to climb up one of the tallest trees in the village. I did so, I was a good climber. I shimmied up to the thinnest branches that could hold my weight. “Go higher!” someone called from down below. So I climbed higher. In hindsight, that was probably not a wise decision, but I didn’t know that then, so I scooched up to a higher branch.
That was when it happened. The pale grey leaves of the tree changed. They became more vibrant, and healthy looking. I had no idea then what was happening, and it took me by surprise. I glanced around me to see if anyone had noticed the change, but my friends were still on the ground, calling me to go higher.
As I looked around, I noticed that other things had changed from their normal look. The black bark of the tree was lighter, and I could see the ridges in the bark more clearly now. The faces of my friends all looked different. Some were a light, soft shade. Others were a similar shade to the bark of the tree. I looked down at myself. My own skin was very pale. Small, bright dots covered my arms and legs. I pulled one of my curls in front of my face and saw that it was the same shade as the dots covering my body.
I double checked that none of my friends had noticed this strange phenomenon. None had. I looked up, through the leaves of the tree. The sky was a clear shade. It was crisp and bright. Large white clouds floated in the sky. I looked harder, to be sure the clouds were white and not another shade. No, they were whiter. My eyes traveled across the sky. The white circle that brought light to our village was there. It had a new look too, it was blinding white, but there were hints of another shade, a shade even brighter than my hair, or the leaves on the trees. When I saw the blinding circle in the sky, something happened. I don’t remember exactly what, but what I think happened was that I had stayed too long on a weak part of the tree. A loud crack sounded from beneath me, and suddenly I was falling, falling, falling.
When I woke up, I was in a pure white room. I kept shutting my eyes and opening them again, seeing if things changed again like they had in the tree. There was nothing, everything was white or grey or black, the only shades that things could be, or so I thought. After a moment, a tall man came in. He was thin, and when I saw him, I saw an explosion of different shades. There was the vibrantness of the tree leaves, a much more muted shade of the sun, a bright shade, much like my curls.
“Hello, June, how are you feeling?” he asked.
“Um, okay, I guess,” I said, not sure if I should tell him about the things I was seeing.
“You seem perplexed, what’s the matter?” the man continued. “Well, can you see them?” I asked hesitantly. “See what?” the man asked.
“The different– shades. The things that are brighter, or more vibrant. Like my hair. My hair is super bright, can you see it?” I asked, holding up one of my curls. The man was confused.
“I don’t know what you mean,” He came over and felt my forehead. “You don’t have a fever. Are you sure you’re feeling all right? You had a big fall.” It was obvious that all he saw was the muted greys and blacks that were once all I had seen.
“Never mind, I think my eyes were playing tricks on me,” I said, trying to laugh the situation off. Inside though, my mind was racing. What was happening to me? Why could I see things that others couldn’t? I closed my eyes, shutting out the scene of the man standing over me, shutting out his confused expression.
“Well, the good thing is, that if you’re feeling okay, then it’s time to go home!” he announced.
“Wait, how long have I been here?” I asked suddenly.
“A little over a day,” he said.
“What?” I yelled.
“Yes, you were knocked out after your fall. Your mother and your father are here ready to take you home,” the man explained. I nodded, and slowly sat up. Blood rushed to my head and I felt dizzy for a moment, but the feeling soon passed. I stood up, and followed the man out of the white room.
The shades were everywhere. There were so many of them too. Just seeing them gave me a headache. When I saw them, my parents rushed over to me.
“Are you okay?” My father asked.
“We were so worried, what happened?” My mother asked as she hugged me.
“I– I fell out of the tree, I guess,” I said. “And I’m okay, just a little dizzy.
When we got home, all my siblings were there.
“Where were you?” one of my brothers asked.
“I– I got hurt. I was knocked out, I’m okay now though,” I said.
That night I asked my mother if she could see the different shades. She reacted like the man in the white room. She checked my temperature, and told me that she had never heard of such a thing. Things went on like that for a few more weeks. Every few days I would ask someone.
“Can you see anything different about my hair? Or about those leaves over on that tree?” I would ask. No one could see what I saw.
One night, a woman knocked on our door. I was helping get supper ready, and when she knocked, I went to open it. The woman had rich skin the same shade of tree bark. Her hair was black, and done up elegantly. She wore a silky dress the shade of the sky.
“Hello, are you June?” she asked.
“Yes, I am.” I was unsure what she wanted from me.
“Well, I am going to be your new teacher next year, and I would like to talk with you for a moment, would that be alright?” she smiled at me. I was even more confused. I had never seen this woman at school before, who was she? I didn’t know what else to do, so I nodded and followed her outside. As soon as I closed the door she turned and grabbed my arm.
“What– What are you doing?” I demanded.
“Look June, don’t struggle. I don’t want to hurt you, I promise. I just need to know, can you see it too? The colors?” she asked in a harsh tone.
“What–do you mean how my hair is so bright, and how everyone has a different shade of skin?” I asked.
“Yes, those are colors. Red, blue, green. I can see them too.” The woman said.
“Is it like a power?” I asked.
“No, long ago, before your great-great-grandparents were even thought of, everyone could see color. They could see the blue sky, the green leaves, the yellow sun. Then, no one knows what happened, but most lost the ability to see color. Now only a select few can, and you are one of them.”
“Can you teach me the names of the colors?” I asked.
“Yes, think of it this way. Apples are red, your hair is orange. The sun is yellow, the grass is green, the sky is blue. Grapes are purple. Beet juice is pink, tree trunks are brown. Repeat it after me.” she instructed.
“Apples are red, my hair is orange, the sun is yellow, the grass is green, the sky is blue, grapes are purple, beet juice is pink, tree trunks are brown, is that right” I asked.
“Yes, good girl. Now, you can’t tell anyone that you can see color. If they knew, well, let’s say you could make yourself some enemies. But, if you ever need someone to talk to, come to me.” The woman winked, then turned and ran off into the night.
I sat there for a moment, then walked slowly inside.
“What did that woman want to talk about?” Mother asked.
“Oh, she just wanted to ask me about a school project that I might be interested in,” I lied quickly.
“Well that’s nice, but it’s time to get supper on the table. Come and help,” Mother instructed.
As I brought the dishes to the table, I noticed the colors around me, and in my head, I named them.
“Fire is red, tablecloth is purple, the chairs are brown. The couch cushions are yellow.” Then, I looked out the window and whispered the phrase that the woman had taught me to remember the colors. “Apples are red, my hair is orange, the sun is yellow, the grass is green, the sky is blue, grapes are purple, beet juice is pink, tree trunks are brown.”
Alice Xie, 12
People say I have a wild imagination. They say I make up things. But I know I don’t. I know I just see the world differently. And since no one can accept that, I keep my thoughts to myself. It’s their loss, honestly. My world is beautiful and full of flavor. It contains the indescribable and the unimaginable. It contains something special, something I cherish everyday. Because no one else can see it, and no one else can share the beauty with me.
Their world is just filled with shades. Black to gray to white. That’s what I was taught in preschool. I could never understand it, because all the platinum, ebony, and charcoal gray looked different in my eyes.
I always thought that I had a defect that caused my world to be different, like maybe my eyes were impaired by a blinding light when I was born. I always thought that I had been given a gift in disguise. I always thought it was unfortunate that no one else could experience the brilliant world I have. That is until I found this notebook shoved in the back of my closet. It was titled Project Achromatopsia: Files from Gordon Miller, head of Miller Corp–Studies on Human Relations inc. The cover of the book had frayed from age, and a layer of dust had accumulated on it. So, like any other curious girl, I opened the journal and began reading.
The paper was frayed on the edges, and the letters on the page all connected, as if the person writing the entries hadn’t lifted his hand once while he wrote. The first entry had 7/2/81 inscribed in tiny characters at the top of the page. I wondered what year the ‘81’ was. Currently, it was the year 4032 and ‘81’ could mean centuries ago. Judging by the worn-out and archaic condition of the notebook and the fact that no one uses notebooks anymore, I assumed it came from a really long time ago. The writing in the notebook began with:
I’ve come up with a new experiment. But this one isn’t the surveys on small groups of people. This one is global. This one is life-changing. I’m curious to see how quickly the world can forget its old life and adapt to a new one. I know I won’t live to see the results of this project, but I’m hoping we can teach a lesson out of this experiment as well as adding on to our studies on humans. Sometimes, a nudge in the right direction won’t do much. Sometimes, people need real change to truly learn. That being said, I’ve decided on the least harmful way that will most likely do the job: I’ve decided to strip the world of its color.
Color. I’ve never heard of that word before. The word rolled around my tongue as I tried to grasp its meaning.
If you are reading this now, that means the air-borne serum we created was successful. And if our world has adapted like we predicted, then you don’t know what color is. But you very likely can see it, if this notebook has landed in the right hands.
My eyes were stuck on the words “See it.” Is color the bright and vibrant complexion dotting the trees? Or the beautiful warm energy engulfing the flowers? Were there names for specific colors? How did the world just forget about this form of life? Questions flew through my head at the speed of light, but I knew they could only be slaked by reading the rest of the notebook.
The team has started working on a prototype and we‘ve decided to sacrifice one of our men to test it on. We still have a few holes in our plan but it follows along the lines of this: Once we get a working serum and a vaccine, we’ll inoculate the team and release a dose of the serum through the vents of a few supermarkets, where the amount of people will be large. Our serum is designed to start working if it enters the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. The serum in its gaseous form–which it will be at temperatures somewhere around -250C to 550C–multiplies itself quickly. The serum will eventually travel around globally and take a few years to reach everyone. Our goal is to have the serum travel to the back of the eye and slowly erode the light sensitive cells in the retina, which will result in Achromatopsia.
When everyone starts noticing the changes to their vision, and freaking out, Miller Corp will announce that the new color-blindness condition is due to air pollution and toxic chemicals in the air that get into the eye and damage it permanently. The best thing about this project is that it serves multiple purposes so it also ought to scare the citizens into taking better care of our world. We are a respectable company, so the public will most likely agree with us immediately. Sure, there will be skeptical scientists here and there who find this explanation sketchy, but we have many ways to deal with them.
Then comes the harder part. This step may take a long time, so we’re hoping the future generation can help us with this task also. Our next step is to then hunt for and destroy any written records of this event and any mention of color. Our objective is to completely erase the impact color has on our lives, except for the members of our team.
I close the notebook for a second, my finger marking the spot where I left off. A flurry of thoughts and emotions barraged my head, but anger dominated it all. This Gordon Miller dude is telling me that he decided to take this beautiful phenomenon away from our world as an experiment?! Part of me wants to tear this notebook in half and let it burn to ashes, so any sign of existence from this sorry-excuse-for-a-human could be gone, never to be seen again. But as much as I wish I could do that, I know I need to find out all about Project Achromatopsia and the dark truth to our world. This notebook held proof that simply couldn’t be destroyed, or else the existence of a world before mine would be lost. And who knows, maybe this notebook held vital information on how to reverse the damage Miller Corp inflicted upon our world.
We have entrusted the future of this project into the hands of the next generation and the generations after that. When our kids turn fifteen, we’ll let them in on our project and instruct them to frequently record the results of this experiment until the time is ready. When the time is indeed ready, the most appropriate descendant of mine (who will be over fifteen years of age but under thirty-five. My descendant will also be able to see color just as any offspring of a person who has not suffered under the new serum, despite whomever the spouse may be, will be able to see color) shall announce this project to the world.
At the last page of this notebook, I’ve attached a few guidelines of what shall be mentioned. It is vital to mention that the purpose of this project is to teach the lesson of being grateful for what you have, for that you don’t know you have something good until you lose it. This message should be stressed multiple times, because it’s an important part of our experiment. My descendant should record a video explaining about the crisis several hundred years ago, when the entire world suffered from color-blindness because of air pollution and the nasty way they treated the Earth. It’s also critical that the real truth does not come out. After the video is recorded, it should be released in a public manner. The engineers of the current team can hack the cable or whatever form of broadcasting that exists in the future, and release the video for the public to see.
The video will no doubt receive a lot of skepticism and confusion, so within a few weeks of the release of the first video, another shall be posted that declares the reason for the first video was to prepare for the announcement that Miller Corp. has developed a cure to the Achromatopsia the inhabitants of this world currently have. Shortly following that announcement, the cure, which is held in a top-secret safe only accessible by a trusted member of Miller Corp, will be released in the same manner as the first serum was released. Over the course of the next few years, we will be documenting how humans in our world adapt to suddenly getting the ability to see color. And when human activity returns to normal, this project is finished.
The writing stopped there and the rest of the pages were blank until the last few pages, where the list of guidelines as Gordon Miller had promised were there. For a minute, I thought this whole notebook was a joke. A short story someone who lived in this house before wrote, or a prank from some random person. But it made too much sense to deem it false. From the words in the notebook, I sensed that the purpose of this project wasn’t just to observe humans. It was something more.
Maybe Gordon Miller wanted to be a famous name that would last for several centuries, as the founder of the company that cured the disease. Maybe Gordon Miller was just a demented psychopath who had an urge to make the world suffer. Because despite everything the author of this notebook claimed, this project was not for the better of the world. In no way was stripping people of such a wonderful ability without their consent for the better of the world.
Suddenly, something dawned on me. If everything in this notebook was true, that means one of my parents must know about this. One of my parents could see the colors I see, and they’ve lied to me my whole life. That thought really hurt.
It couldn’t be my mom, could it? She was a painter, and didn’t seem like someone who would be involved with this. My dad, on the other hand, was a scientist, which fit perfectly into the role of someone who’d participate in this experiment. As soon as that thought flitted through my mind, I raced out my bedroom and to my dad’s office, only to realize my dad was working in the lab today. I walk out of the office, the notebook still clutched in my hand, and bump into my mom, who was wandering aimlessly around the house, no doubt brainstorming new art.
She noticed the notebook in my hand, and says,
“So I see you’ve found Gordon’s notebook,”
“Yeah. Wait–you know about Gordon Miller?” The expression on my mom’s face was all I needed to confirm my suspicion. I could feel all the heat rush up to my face, and all the dignity I had completely left me.
“You’re the one who’s part of the project? Did you hide this notebook in my closet? But you’re a painter! And you never believed me when I claimed I could see colors!” I yell, each word louder than the last.
“Mia, calm down,”
“So you lied to me my whole life? You said I was ridiculous! You made me feel left out and alone! Does dad know? I can’t believe you would work for such an imbecile like Gordon Miller, even though he is dead,” I seethe.
“Mia, I know you have your opinions, we all did, but regardless of that, you need to know that it’s time.”
“Time for what? And if you had your opinions, why did you never voice them? Why are you still doing this?”
“It’s time for the world to know about the experiment. Or the version we can give them,” my mom replied, completely ignoring my last question.
“Not my problem. I’m not participating in any of this. That’s Miller’s descendant’s business,” I respond coldly, not able to look my mom straight in the eye.
“Mia, you are the Miller descendant,” my mom shook her head, exasperated.
“That’s impossible! My last name is Laker!”
“That’s the surname you inherited from your father,” My mom answered without missing a beat. “My maiden name was Miller.” My eyes grew to the size of a tennis ball, and I stared at my mom, my mouth open.
“I am not doing this. I cannot do this. What kind of parent makes their child lie to the whole world and tell them that they’ve been ungrateful and reckless?”
“Don’t sweetie me,” I scream. My mom sighed.
“I won’t force you to do this, but if you want the world to keep living without the color you’ve experienced, go ahead.”
“Oh, so now you’re trying to guilt me into doing this. Why don’t you just make this announcement if it’s so important?”
“That doesn’t follow Mr. Miller’s guidelines,”
“Screw his guidelines!” I yelled. My mom’s mouth drove into a hard line, and I realized something. The world deserved to know the truth. And I couldn’t trust anyone else to deliver it. So maybe it was my legacy to change the world. But I was going to change it the right way. I couldn’t undo what my I-have-no-idea-how-many-greats-grandfather did, but I could still help the world.
“Okay, mom. I’ll do it. I’ll make the video,” I lowered my voice back to its normal tone. My mom’s face crinkled, trying to read through the lines.
“I wasn’t thinking clearly before,” I added, trying to cover up my plans. “I’ve come to realize that this is the best thing to do.” I was going to do the best thing. Yes, I was going to make the video. But not with Gordon’s guidelines. I was going to tell the truth.