Memories of Hayden
Lisa hugged her husband tightly, unshed tears in their eyes as they stared down at their little boy lying motionless on the medical bed. He looked at peace, which was a vast, yet terrifying improvement over the last few years, which he had mostly spent crying in pain. The only indication that he still clung weakly to life was the slight flicker of his eyelids.
Hayden dreamed. His memories were not many, and much of them were painful, but they were all he had and all he knew.
He stood in a brightly lit room, playing with a few other toddlers as an adult looked on. He fell onto his diaper-padded bum and laughed brightly as he heard a familiar, comforting voice. “Don't worry, Hayden, it's OK. Just keep trying.”
“Come on, Hayden! It's OK! Mummy will catch you!”
Another memory flashed through his mind. He was older, as he looked nervously down from his seat at the top of a long slide, while his mum was waving and shouting encouragingly to him at the bottom. It seemed very, very far down. But Mummy said it was OK. With that reassurance, he let go and screamed all the way down, turning from terror to joy as she caught him and swung him into the air as he hit bottom.
A tear fell down Hayden’s cheek. He had tripped and boo-booed his knee. He saw Mummy hurrying over. “It's OK, Hayden. Mummy will make it better.” Kissing his knee, she did make it feel better. Then she found a smiley-faced Spongebob sticker to put on it, and it felt even better. He wondered if he could fall again and get a matching one on the other knee.
He fell again. And again. Nowadays, he fell almost daily. Every time he hit the ground, Mummy was there to pick him up. To tell him it was OK and kiss him better. But she sounded different now, and he didn't understand why. And one time, he saw her crying.
The lights hurt his eyes; they were so bright. And that wasn't the only thing that hurt. As the strange man in white clothes poked him with a sharp piece of metal, as he whimpered, Mummy held him tightly to her and whispered in his ear. “It's OK, Hayden, It's OK.” For some reason, it didn't sound like she was talking to him at all.
Mummy was crying. The doctor had come into his room and talked to her, and when the doctor left, she started crying. Slowly at first, but growing louder. It scared him. He didn't like to see Mummy cry. He tried to reach out and touch her hand, but couldn't lift his arm quite enough. “It's OK, Mummy. Don't cry. Please?”
He lay still, unmoving, surrounded by machines and wires and tubes and pain. Even his hair was gone, replaced with cold wires sticking to his head. He thought he looked like one of the bad guys from the comic books he loved. He wasn't sure if that was cool or not.
Mummy was stroking his face, the only part of him easily accessible. “Hayden, don't worry. After you go to sleep, you'll wake up in a better place. And Mummy and Daddy will see you again. It will be OK, I promise. We'll do all the things you used to enjoy.” He smiled weakly. That would be nice. He wanted to shout and run and play with her again.
And then the doctor pushed a button on a machine, and his eyelids suddenly felt heavy, while at the same time, his pain disappeared for the first time in forever. He felt himself floating away and began to dream.
Lisa hugged her husband tightly, unshed tears in their eyes as they stared down at their little boy lying motionless on the medical bed. He looked at peace, a peace she had not seen on him in years, as his breathing grew slower and shallower.
Until finally, it stopped.
The technician shook his head, as he completed the upload and confirmed its integrity before activating it -- A whole family. He wondered what had led to an entire family undergoing the experimental and risk-fraught procedure to upload their minds into cyberspace. Anyway, it looked like the memory upload process had gone smoothly.
Hayden’s eyes opened slowly. He was standing in a large grassy field, facing him are his Mummy and Daddy. They gripped each other's hands tightly, but as he saw them, they dropped onto their knees to wrap their arms around him, oh so tightly. Hayden hugged them back, and cried, for finally, the pain was gone.
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