Short Story: From Gloom to Glint


4C Cheung Chun, Carlos

From gloom to glint

Tommy dashed into his closet, messing up all well-folded t-shirts and pants after switching off all the lamps in the house.  In the dark was a shivering boy praying to God, hoping that the Almighty Lord could relieve his mother’s anger…

A few minutes ago, the little child was searching for the most suitable bowl for holding his cereal for his after-school tea.  He stretched his arms to the fullest so as to reach the innermost part of the cupboard.  The ordinary cupboard seemed to have been too deep for a six-year-old boy.  It was just like a cave full of uncertainty and danger.

Got it! He successfully hunted into his ‘treasure’ and he was too excited … too excited that his elbow hit his mother’s favourite mug while he was pulling himself out of the cave, in whose darkness, uncertainties awaited him.

“Crash!” The falling mug smacked the floor and was broken into pieces.  Tommy was just like a statue, remaining still and staring at the floor.  He was all in a daze, not knowing what had just happened in that split second.  That mug was one-of-a-kind as there was his mum’s face printed on it.  It was one of the couple mugs which were given by her best friend during her wedding ceremony.  But now, the smiling face of the bride on the mug could hardly be seen.

Inside Tommy’s frozen body, his fear was snowballing into mounting horror as he believed the incident must aggravate his mother.  He started recalling the conversation last night…

‘Tommy, what would you do if you were the boss of a big company?’ His mother raised this cryptic question in the middle of the dinner, shocking the innocent boy.  From her strained voice, the child knew that his mum was really upset.

‘Um… maybe I would give the staff some treats when they were tired to cheer them up,’ Tommy gave the reply doubtfully, with his head tilted to one side, avoiding his mum’s eyes.

‘That’s good!’ his mother praised Tommy, and she continued.  ‘Remember that.  Be kind and fair to everyone in your company.  The “everyone” includes not only those gorgeous elegant secretaries, but also the humble clerks, the hardworking cleaners and the tough carriers.  Never be like my boss, who dumped all the loathing work to me at once, and blamed on me for another colleague’s fault.’  His mother’s desperate situation reflected the suffering of all the junior staff belonging to the lower tiers of a big company.

He couldn’t imagine how his mother, who was in such a depressed and irritable mood last night, would react after knowing her favourite mug was fragmented.  He dared not imagine how she would be glaring with extreme anger and punish him to the most severe extend.

Meanwhile, there was the sound of the chinking keys at the front door.  Without a moment of hesitation, Tommy threw everything behind his head and rushed into his closet right after having all lights off.

The door was opened and a voice came with the action.  It was a voice of a gentle and loving mother.

‘Tommy, where’re you?  Let’s dine out tonight.  We’re going to your favourite restaurant…’ his mother closed her lips, feeling puzzled as what she saw was only darkness.  In the ears of the frightened boy, the loving words of his mother became the growling of a monster, escalating his fear.  Eventually, he sobbed and wanted to cover his mouth to prevent sound from leaking out, but his effort was in vain. He was still not prepared for the punishment from his mother.  In his head was nothing except the thoughts of running away from this overwhelming situation.

Thinking that her mother-in-law might have taken the grandchild to her own home and knowing that there was nobody at home, all she hoped was just to lie down, forgetting all the burdens from the workplace.  She dragged her exhausted body towards the sofa.

‘Ouch!’ The tired woman screamed as something sharp stabbed her feet.  She pulled it out and turned on the light to see what it was.  As brightness was brought to the house after that click, the truth was revealed in front of her eyes as well.

‘Tommy, where’re you?  Honey, come out!  I know you’re hiding,’ the mum was walking around with her feet bleeding and looking for her young son.  A surprise to Tommy, his mother didn’t sound that wrathful as he expected, he could even feel that she was not annoyed at all.  She was only concerned about him. However, his fear was so nagging that it stopped him from being sensible, so he kept shivering in huge dread ignoring what he had heard.   Every time she called Tommy’s name, his body trembled in greater fear.  His throbbing heart beat so fiercely that he thought his mum could also hear it.  He knew that it was the time to confess and face punishment, maybe, the heaviest one ever, so he slowly crawled out from his shelter…

‘Tommy, come over here,’ demanded his mother.  Although the truth had come to light and the culprit was arrested, the future was doomed, Tommy was still unable to move himself forwards but only kept rubbing his tears away and sniffing.

His mother couldn’t wait and stepped towards him and Tommy closed his eyes with great force, awaiting the long-expected punishment to fall on him.  However, he only felt a pair of soft hands embracing his quivering body but not a slap on his face.  He was surprised and opened his watery eyes.

‘Are you okay?  Do you get hurt?’  His mother asked him in a motherly tone, without a glimmer of anger infiltrating into her words.  Tommy couldn’t hold back his tears and all of his fear and guilt were released.

‘Sorry, mum.  I’ve broken your mug,’ poor Tommy confessed to causing the accident.

‘It’s okay, dear.  It’s just a mug.  It’s good that you haven’t got hurt.  That’s the most important,’ she comforted him with her hands pattering his head.

‘Let’s clean up the mess together and we’ll have dinner, shall we?’  She lowered her body to have a peek at his son’s face and asked gently and Tommy nodded his head firmly.

In the brightness were a mother and a son walking away from darkness hand in hand, smiling to each other from ear to ear.

While the two were tidying up, Tommy suddenly realized that the incident was actually telling him something.  It’s that motherhood won over blazing anger.  He, definitely, made his mother ache for the broken precious mug.  Yet, his mother’s unconditional love made her brush aside her anger.  She cared and worry about her son much more than the mug.

From that moment, Tommy pledged to himself that he would never let his most treasurable woman down again as she loved him most.