In elementary school, Allie, Raven, and Cassi didn’t think gold was very hard to find.
Gold, thought Allie, was being the smartest in class for yet another year and holding a hot cup of cocoa in mittened hands. It was your best friends catching you when you fell, and being taken with your twin sister to see your favorite band perform. Allie could always find gold with her friends, so she laughed.
Gold, thought Raven, was winning a soccer tournament and unwrapping the birthday present you always wanted. It was the feeling of sunlight on your bare skin, wading through cool, shallow water, and being pushed into the ocean by your older brother. Raven could always find gold with her friends, so she shone.
Gold, thought Cassi, was taking pictures of the dew as it collected on a single leaf and the pastries your grandmother made on cold December evenings. It was the determined beating of your heart as you looked straight at the impossible. Cassi could always find gold with her friends, so she smiled.
In middle school, gold was a little harder to find. But you can’t blame the three friends for using up their gold. You can’t blame them for not knowing they would always have gold.
Allie thought she’d always have gold. She kept laughing as she got into a magnet program and was placed in all of the advanced classes. She invited her friends to the concerts she went to and volunteered at the local library. She didn’t even notice when her laughter grew a little forced.
Raven thought she’d always have gold. She kept shining as she tried out for the school soccer team and actually got in. Her parents brought her to California on her birthday, where she enjoyed a November birthday under the sun. She didn’t even notice when her light began to dim.
Cassi thought she’d always have gold. She kept smiling when her grandmother bought her a professional camera. She shared her pictures on social media, and people seemed to love them. She lived for the joy she got from proving people wrong, proving she could do what they told her she couldn’t. And she didn’t even notice when her smiles stopped reaching her eyes.
High school was when they began running out of gold. High school was when their worlds ceased to be golden and instead became black.
Black, thought Allie, was being too tired to study because you’re never going to be on top again. It was visiting your sleeping sister in the hospital and hoping she would wake up. It was skipping school and grades dropping until you could finally force a laugh that sounded real. Allie’s true laugh, her contagious, happy giggle, had faded with her gold.
Black, thought Raven, was being kicked off the team because you weren’t playing well enough. It was learning that your older brother had been arrested for drunk driving, and being too tired to drag yourself out of bed every morning to put on your sparkle. Raven’s real light, her blinding silver glow, had faded with her gold.
Black, thought Cassi, was putting your camera away because your pictures, like you, had been cleansed of all emotion. It was attending your grandmother’s funeral, and the cold emptiness always accompanied by the certainty that you would never be happy again. It was crying yourself to sleep every night after an day of plastering a wide grin across your face. Cassi’s real smile, a smile that could light up the world, had faded with her gold.
But in college, people began to notice. And to their surprise, people began to care. People were sympathetic and helpful, and eventually, the world ceased to be black. Allie, Raven and Cassi had found something else. It wasn’t quite golden, but it wasn’t black, either. It was silver.
Allie liked living in a silver world. It wasn’t quite as good as living in a golden one, but it was much, much better than living in a black one. Her grades improved, and she found that college wasn't quite as bad as high school had been. She made new friends, got an internship, and spent time in the local coffee shop when she was especially stressed. She didn’t get her gold back; not yet. But Allie started laughing again.
Raven didn’t really know what she thought of silver. If anything, she was simply relieved that she had escaped the murky black she’d been living in four the past four years. She played recreational soccer with her new friends and liked to sit on the beach to calm herself down. She even thought she could see a little bit of gold beyond the blinding stretch of silver. She didn’t get her gold back; not yet. But Raven started shining again.
Cassi was shocked by the sudden silver. After so many years of being surrounded by black, you come to expect nothing more than the darkness. But here she was: a girl without gold in a world without black. It was certainly an improvement. She found her old camera and started taking pictures again. She started baking the pastries that her grandmother made. She didn't get her gold back; not yet. But Cassi started smiling again.
Allie, Raven and Cassi won’t forget the blackness they saw. They won’t forget the gold they had, either. Silver would never replace gold, but they were happy not to live in such a dark world. Maybe they could live in a silver world. Maybe they could live in a world without gold.
Silver life wasn’t quite normal for the trio.
Because maybe, just maybe, they’d be able to move back to their happy, golden world. They’d be able to go back to a time when the world wasn’t black, but their lives weren’t silver.
And everything was golden.