Choice of Love
Amber 周嘉怡 200110228
Chapter 1. Crying In a Restroom
It is a cold winter night. This old man is busy working in his routine.
"Hi, Zimmer!" his mate says to him, in a vein of happiness, driving the cleaning car and passing by, "How are you doing?"
"Can't grumble,” he replies, with a slight smile on his face. However, the moment he puts his heads up to answer, the poor man, with poor eyesight, slips and nearly falls over into a pool of vomit.
" Oh my, watch out! The weather is not pleasant," his mate says, "You should be more careful, brother! Can't you remember? You’ve were in bed for almost a month after your last fall!" He says with care but in a bantering tone. They've known each other for many years, since they both began to work here, after all. Both of them were handsome and vigorous at that time, at least they think so.
"Who said I don’t?" The old man is wiping his shoes with the rags, though that guy has already driven away. If he doesn’t do so, the smelly thing will make him sick. （He is known to have a good nose in the group of workers in this airport.）And he says these words slowly. Actually, this accident does make his heart beat faster, but he tries to hide the waves of emotion in his voice.
Suddenly, he stops. His attention is taken by a discontinuous crying on the other side of the door while he is occupied in dealing with the dirty floor of the restroom. It's 9 o'clock. The airport is still busy. You can see people walking swiftly, pushing their belongings. They're paying no attention to the corners of a restroom which Zimmer has to clean, sweep, and dry, just like one's living room.
The moment he hears the crying, he doesn't go ahead. And intuition tells him that it's the cry of a little child because it is weak and slight. If you don't take notice, you can barely hear it. He looks around and, with nobody looking, he slides into the door—the women's restroom. Following the slight crying, he looks over and smells blood in the air. His heart pounds fast and seemingly knows what is going on.
Chapter2 Desire To Go Out
This little boy is staring at the screen of a TV, on which a travel program is being played. He is deeply attracted by the wide open skies, fascinating landscapes, and bright neon lights. He has always imagined that he is a little bird, flying through the beautiful clouds and having a panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower, all the winding rivers and mysterious forests. He also dreams of making friends with monkeys, which are like happy elves jumping merrily in the woods and bring him fresh fruits freshly picked from trees.
To be honest, he is a child different from others of his age. Every time he watches the kids walking with their parents happily, he can see the love and warmth in their eyes. This makes him feel lonely. It’s weird to say an 8-year-old boy is lonely, but in fact, he grows up with his grandfather, who is busy with his cleaning work all the time. He has no idea where his parents or other family members are, and he wonders what life would be like outside the airport. He never has a chance to slide out because he is not allowed to. Sometimes, out of curiosity, he will ask his grandfather these questions. However, his grandfather always replies, “When you grow up, you will know everything.” But every time he answers so, the boys desire to go out becomes stronger.
He learns to speak from his grandfather and his workmates. They are all kind and friendly to this smart and diligent boy. They are just like family. But to those who are well-educated, their behaviors are gross and cannot be associated to theirs.
He learns most of the new words from the TV in the airport --- “news” is the first one he learned. He learns so fast that he can make out what is happening from watching the TV reporters, most of the time. At first, his grandpa was afraid that he would lose his way in this big and crowded airport. But his good memory helps him return home---a small staff’s quarter.
He is quite familiar with the airport---especially the exact position of every TV. To explore more knowledge about outside, he is a frequenter in front of TV. And he knows that travel programs are usually on show at 10a.m. and 5p.m. When the show is not on, he immerses himself in books.
Chapter3 A Big Choice
With curiosity about the world outside, the little boy has his 13th birthday. And he has an idea in his mind. When the night falls, the cake, with candles shinning in the cold winter night, is brought by his grandfather and his mates. “Happy birthday to you~” With the last blessing, the boy blows up the candles and repeats that dream in his heart. He desires to have an adventure.
As the familiar sound of snoring reverberates in the dark and small house, the boy has been well-equipped -- a heavy backpack containing a bottle of water, several maps which have been discovered in a booklet, his favorite one, and money saved for a long time. He thinks that he opens and closes the door so gently that nobody knows a boy just escaped. Then he feels someone’s hand is weighing on his left shoulder. Instinct tells him that’s his grandfather.
“Where are you going? It’s already late.”
“Uh, I have a date with one of my friends…He is waiting for me now.”
“My boy, you are not good at lying, are you? It’s late, just go back to sleep.”
“No, I’m telling you now that I’m going out! Myself! I’m serious.” The boy’s face becomes immediately flushed, and there’s a tremble in his voice.
For seconds, Zimmer speaks no words. But there is a flood of words waving in his heart. He knows that he is trying to hold his bad mood in check. Finally, he thinks he could prevent further arguments----it’s almost 12 o’clock, after all. But before he speaks, the boy’s voice rises again.
“I am going out for a trip that I have dreamed for so long! Grandpa, for years, I have behaved myself under your instructions and did what you want me to do. But now, I truly dislike your control, and I shall have the right to be myself! So today, whether you like or not, I will follow my heart!”
Zimmer feels a sudden surge of anger, “You little boy! You know nothing about the world, or even about me, myself ! How dare you say that!”
His special voice is widely acknowledged by his mates, and its rising draws everyone’s attention. The light in the hallway flash. Puzzled, the people inside come out and finally let their eyes settle upon the two arguing.
“Why are you always so bossy? Why is it impossible for me to have stark freedom?” The boy insists on the issue and shows no inclination to return to bed in front of everyone.
“Well, well! You spoiled brat! Don’t you dare do this today!” Losing face in the crowd, Zimmer’s face becomes livid, and his voice is so loud that the whole corridor echoed with it.
The air is nearly frozen and someone’s whisper is lingering around the boy’s ears. He does not say anything. He doesn’t even have a glimpse at this furious man. With everyone watching, his figure fades down the corridor.
There's a secret way leading outside. The boy hasn’t every told anyone. It takes him a while to go through it. His legs are trapped by brushes from time to time, and he can smell the gutter's scents spreading in the gloomy air. But then his vision is filled with lights gradually, and this shade of light is uprising and aching his eyes. The moment he stands on the land and adjusts his eyes to the colorful neon lights, his heart is pounding fast with excitement and feels a sense of freedom flying in the air.
Next morning, the twittering birds above him wake him up. The warm sunlight covers him when he is heading for the nearest bakery. He is in good mood, and it seems that nothing had happened last night. It’s usually easy for teenagers to forget the unhappy past at the sight of novelty. “But still, I failed to persuade him.” He takes a deep breath and the breeze is fanning the bread's smell into his nose. His stomach rumbles emptily. Holding the paper money, he comes into the door.
The oncoming stranger seems to be very happy, a slightly fat and middle-aged woman, whose smiling eyes narrow into a crack.
“What can I do for you, handsome boy?”
His face blushes the first time he hears someone praises him, although it’s the idiomatic phrase used by salespersons.
“A few bags of bread will be fine…for the road.”
“Okay, I’ll pack it up for you, just wait a minute.”
“How much is it?” the boy asks, in uncertainty.
“Let me see,” the lady throws her eye on the scale, “5 dollars in total.”
The boy draws out a sheet of money in his sweaty fingers and passes it to her.
“Welcome to come again.”
“Never will, maybe. Who knows where am I going the next second?” the boy thinks to himself.
Just at the corner where he means to have a fairly good meal and arranges his bread for every day, he finds that the saving box has disappeared. He even turns his small bag upside and down. It turns out nothing. “Oh, my goodness! Come on!”
Life is not likely to go so smoothly, even for a handsome boy. “Anyway, it’s time to be my own.” He relights his hope, looking at the flows of cars and passers-bys. And in countless shops, a recruiting advertisement attracts him. “Maybe it’s a good chance.”
He approaches and asks, “Is there a position open?”
"Yes, come in."
"What you are supposed to do is to deliver the meal to the right table, okay? Am I clear?"
"I won't let you down."
In the first day, the boy works hard. His clothes inside are wet all the time. And thanks to the cold weather, customers come and go frequently. He also learns that it's a good thing. If the interest increases, he will be provided with a free meal by the kind boss.
One day, several people in uniform walk in. As he is trained, he comes up to them and sends a big smile. But they pay no attention to the boy. Instead, they go straight to the manager. Although he can't hear clearly what they are talking about, from their serious countenance and constant eyes on him, he sniffs a sense of unease in the air mixed with the oil in the restaurant.
" I'm sorry to have to tell you that you're not employed anymore," the manager says to him, "You have always done a good job these weeks."
"But why?" The boy is still in a puzzle.
"You're so young. The newest policy is that any boy under sixteen can not be employed. "
"But I can still get my salary, can't I ?"
"You have eaten it all. You see? If I pay you, I will break the law. So please go. Get out !"
The boy keeps silent. Those days’ hard work amounts to zero. All of a sudden, his brain becomes blank. And he gets a last glance at the TV screen in the restaurant. That is his favorite program. It reminds him of his dream which he succeeded in purchasing just several days ago but is suffering from, too.
Wandering at the street, he sighs lightly. He is dizzy and exhausted. But everywhere is the busy crowd. Everywhere is the vehicles speeding away. He wants to cry but is interrupted by a burst of coughing.
Chapter 4 An Unfit Father
In the dark house, a man is sitting still. The moon shades its lights to the ground and his back. The child’s words could not be removed from his mind, as well as his determined look.
“I did not expect it to happen so soon. The day came at last!” he mutters to himself, eyes fixed on the yellowing photo clutched tightly in his hand. It is a little boy, good-looking but a little thin. He looks fairly like Zimmer.
“15 years have passed. I have lost you for 15 years, my son! Every day and night, I have been haunted by guilt!
“I always wanted you to be normal, or at least look like it, but I didn't realize it was hurting you. It was I who pushed you to end your life!”
“You know what? When I saw that baby in the restroom that night, his weak cry took me back to the night you left. We both were poor wretches, receiving few gifts from the Lord! But I knew God had given me another chance to be a father, a good father. But had I made a mistake again?” He asked, putting up with tears shining on his cheek.
Inside the door is the father who blames himself. Outside the boy leans against the wall and a pricking of conscience is rising in his heart. He remembers the old man's words, remembers his former rebellion, thinks of countless day and night, his grandfather's care, remembers that in his sick childhood, he was never made to do heavy work, and thinks of the breakfast prepared carefully in winter mornings. Through the door in front of him, he suddenly discovers that his grandfather has already become white-haired. His heart stings and he says nothing, walking in. The two men hug each other tightly.