A Disappointment – A short story by Amira Akhtar (2020)
She looked down, not daring to look up. Laura could feel her intense gaze. Angry? Sad maybe? Disappointed? Who knew? She was not planning on finding out. She felt hot tears brimming in her usually cheerful eyes. Too afraid to wipe them away, she let them make their way to her usually red lips. Now, pale. Small whimpers escaped her lips. Summoning all her courage, Laura managed to let out a humble apology.
“I’m sorry for being a disappointment,” she whispered.
Suddenly, she felt warmth. The rare ones, so magical. They had the power to make her powerless. She felt comfortable. She felt safe. She had not been able to handle this warmth for a long time. It couldn’t hurt to be selfish for once. She felt more tears brimming. Before Laura knew it, she was sobbing bitterly while in her mother’s warm embrace. How did it end up this way? Suddenly her mind travelled to where this had started…
Laura was an only child with a single parent. Her mom, Mrs Sam. Mrs Sam was a hard-working woman, always providing for her precious daughter. Laura had been aware of this. She still did her best and never disappointed her mother.
Laura excelled in her studies. She was the so-called ‘genius’ in her class.
She admired her mother. For that, she had one goal in her teenage life, to get a scholarship to pay for her school and tuition fees. She really, really wanted to lift the heavy burden of her mother’s shoulder. She loved her mother dearly and wanted to provide for her. She wanted to see her mother’s relaxed smile. For this reason, she never stopped working. However, that changed once Laura joined this prison-like platform called ‘Social Media’.
Laura jumped for joy punching the air. Mrs Sam had finally saved up enough money to get a handphone for her daughter. Speechless, Laura pulled her mom into an embrace. Mrs Sam felt happy. No, it was something else. Satisfaction. She could finally provide useful items for Laura. She smiled as she watched Laura rush to her room. Hopefully, she had done Laura well.
Laura was different.
Mrs Sam dismissed it at first, but now it was clear. It was hard not to notice. Laura rarely had time to chat with Mrs Sam anymore. She usually skipped meals to stay cooped up in her room. Although it was apparent that Laura was spending too much time on her phone, Mrs Sam pushed it aside. After all, her daughter has always been able to take care of herself, and she had been Mrs Sam’s pride.
Laura was entranced.
Every day, she was losing herself to the cruel hands of ‘Social Media’. She knew that. She knew a lot of things. She knew that Claudia from her class was bad-mouthing her. She did not care, though. She was the top in her level. The clutches of ‘Social Media’ was not going to stop her from achieving her dream. Right? Anyway, she couldn’t care less. After all, her account on Social Media was proliferating. ‘Everything is fine’, she kept telling herself. However, she knew. She knew. That statement had its fair share of dishonesty.
As time went by, days became weeks. Weeks became months. Before she knew it, she was in the examination room, staring at the questions that seemed alien to her. Her palms, now sweaty, lifted her pencil. Trying to retrieve her memory, she decided to fish around her mind for solutions. However, she only caught a few fishes. Restraining her tears and pushing away the negative thoughts in her mind, she continued. She endured the tough questions. The colourful pages of her examination papers filled with highlighter markings blurred her eyes. After the torment was over, she sighed. Not a relieved one. Now, all she can do is brace herself for a big disappointment. Tears filled her eyes again. She used to imagine herself being so confident in the examination room. Her acing all her examinations. Now, her high hopes shattered into a million pieces.
That night, Laura cried herself to sleep.
Laura was devastated. Her trembling fingers held the pieces of papers that carried her grades. Although she had braced herself, she could not believe her eyes. Her dream. Her goal. We’re now out of reach. A mere B grade. Her scholarship. Gone. Her mother’s burden. Remained. She sobbed. Her bag weighed heavier than ever that day though it carried her mere stationery and her examination slip.
She placed her examination slip on the dining table. Not daring to look up. She hated herself. She clenched her fists as her nails dug into her palm. Why? No. She knew why.
Mrs Sam picked up the slip of paper. She did not know what to say. So she smiled.
Then, Laura muttered those words that pierced through her mom’s heart like a knife.
“I’m sorry for being a disappointment”.
Sorrow seeped through Mrs Sam’s veins. Laura had never been a disappointment in her eyes. Without missing a beat, she pulled Laura into a hug.
The warm embrace of her mother comforted Laura.
“You have never been a disappointment in my eyes. Far from it. You are the best daughter anybody could ask for”, Mrs Sam said with tears.
Laura smiled. That night, they had the best dinner in ages. She too, cannot ask for a better mom. Her mom cherished her like how she adored her mom. Laura smiled once more. She was not able to achieve her dream. Although she was not a disappointment in her mom’s eyes, she was in her’s. She was a disappointment. However, she would learn. She would not be a disappointment anymore.
After all, disappointment only makes you more persuasive if you accept it.