QUANTUM SHORTS 2013: SHORTLISTED, SINGAPORE YOUTH CATEGORY
With every choice made comes a dozen others unmade.
She was perfect. Working her way through life had always been easy for Sofia Delandro, daughter of Amy Delandro, now a widow set for life with the investments made by her late husband. Born to a middle class family as one of the rare few that possessed naturally stunning looks, Sofia had never found it difficult to flatter and tease her way up in life. Now look how far she had come! A symbol of beauty and feminism, a lady rich and famous from her own modelling career and business-savvy husband, a woman with nothing left to want – these were all the characteristics that made her the envy and desire of everyone, from the most pitiful peasant to the most bitter trophy wife. But at night, when the empty bed greeted her sight for the nth time, and the hazy intoxication of sweet potent alcohol and trained companions failed to erase the taste of bile, Sofia wondered if this life was worth it, or would it have been better and so much more meaningful to have been ugly all her life…
She was never perfect. Sofie Delandro was a child born deformed, with a single hazel eye and a wrinkled, protruding lump, where her other eye should be, staring back at her from the mirror all her life. Partially due to a premature birth and partially due to the carcinogenic toxins her mother was always exposed to in her factory job, Sofie “could have been a real hot babe”. Although Sofie spent most of her adolescence toiling away in a bid to raise the status of her family from middle class, the first impressions people had of her often swept away her accomplishments and perseverance like fires ravaged lives. The lingering effects of her deformity succeeded in forcing Sofie into the life of a jobless outcast, but nevertheless, she found inspiration in the downtrodden and poor who had struggled with failure, overcome her and emerged with strength in their wills and lessons of life, ever so priceless, etched into their minds. And it was as Sofie consumed book after book, that her own talent for writing improved and inevitably, reluctantly unveiled itself. With the help of a few wonderful, accepting people and a pseudonym, Sofie Delandro’s story of a young boy trapped in poverty made its way to the bestseller’s list. Sometimes, Sofie’s overactive imagination would take over, and she wondered what her life would have been if her mother had spared herself from her factory job by accepting the second job offered to her (not the first offer as a middle school teacher – her mother was no good with immature children), but rather the simple, non-hazardous to health job of a journalist from the Hot News. Would she not be a happy, normal child then? She wondered…
She was an empty illusion. Sonia Delandro was down on her luck. Her early childhood consisted of a boring life wishing that she could have a superpower, or perhaps be a writer like her mother, but life was uninteresting, the only spice coming from the gossip
that her mother often brought back to the household and religiously shared with
Sonia. Sonia grew up on the outlandish, far-fetched tales borne of
desperate reporters’ pay-check-related falsifications, and grew to be a
vivacious, quick-witted teenager. The immense height of her tales was matched
only by the increasing darkness of her lies as she struggled for the attention
of her peers. The trend only continued as she made her way through life, and as
the pitfalls of her pockmarked face and loud-mouthed, airheaded persona subtly
made themselves known, Sonia Delandro sank into depression, and before she had
drank her first legal beer, she was already gone, her measly life slipping
along the wind, lost to a vast empire of consumption and spending, where no one
had time for one small little girl. Even as her mother wept and a cold,
heartless world failed to care, a burning question kept the single, childless
mother awake at night: All those years ago, had she made the right choice?
She had never existed. Sonya Delandro was only a memory, an idea, a faint wisp lost to the throes of time. Sonya Delandro had never existed but in the mind of Amy Delandro, now Amy Duskins. When Damien Delandro’s fatal car crash lost her all the financial support he would have provided, Amy Delandro was faced with a terrible and unforgivable dilemma. To keep the baby, or not? Unable to handle the prospect of raising a child alone in a world where her only qualifications were a Major in American Literature and a minor in Politics, Amy’s choice was clear. Three years later, Amy met Robert Duskins, a middle-aged, good natured man with greying hair and a silly grin, and together they settled down and had a quiet, contented life with a small apartment and their treasured darling Robbie. And Robbie grew up wondering what would have happened if he had not been born Robbie Duskins, but rather Robbie Delandro?
He was himself. Robbie Delandro’s parents quarrelled more than they talked, and over him more often than not. It was no fault of his that he had been born abnormal. He had no choice in it, and it was just who he was, and couldn’t they accept that? His father blamed his mother for always wanting a daughter, his mother blamed his father for never being there for the two of them, and they both blamed him for being something sick, something twisted, something diseased.
But Robbie did not believe that. The choice made the man, and every life was written by the individual, not the judgemental. So he liked guys, so what? He hurt no one by being who he was. Call him cheesy, but he was Robbie Delandro, and only Robbie Delandro.
But still, sometimes, he wondered…...