Highly Commended Story - Bryan The Builder
“Bryan The Builder” by Ho Chao See Sophie, Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary School, Singapore, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Bryan The Builder
Ever since 7-year-old Bryan had fixed a cupboard from Ikea with his father, he developed a love for building. Throughout the years in school, he helped his friends whenever they needed help building something. In primary school, he joined the Robotics Club and won many awards, which earned him a place in a good secondary school.
Design and Technology (DNT) was always the class that he looked forward to the most. One day, his teacher recommended an after-school workshop for him to develop his talent. He skipped home, smiling from ear to ear.
“Mom! Dad! My DNT teacher suggested I should go for this after-school workshop! Can I go? Please? This would really help me in my future career!” Bryan pleaded on his knees.
Mother and Father looked confused at the consent form stating: “Your child has been elected to join our annual building competition taking place in December! All he/she needs to do is come for 10 of our after-school classes and take part in a mini competition to see. If your child is a finalist, he/she will represent the school and compete with students from other different schools. If he/she gets into the top three places, your child will be given a prize. Good luck!”
Father asked, “How will this help you in becoming a scientist? It is also too near the time of your exams.”
Bryan shook his head and his eyes glowed. “I want to be an engineer.”
Mother said, “Really? I thought that you would like to be a scientist. What made you change your mind?”
“Well, I may really like science but, over the years, I discovered a passion for building!”
“We see. But we do not support your idea. Sorry, Bryan but you are smart enough to be a scientist and I don't want you wasting those precious years away on something like building. Moreover, you will definitely earn more money as a scientist! Remember how you said you wanted to pay us back? Be successful! Like us!” Father responded. Mother nodded.
Bryan clenched his fists. “What sort of parents are you?” tears welled up in his eyes. He ran into his room and slammed the door. “Why do they think being an engineer is useless? Think of all the possible things I could build for you!” he talked to his stuffed elephant, as if it was his parents. He punched it until he felt less angry.
The next day, Bryan told his teacher sadly, “Mr. Hock, I am not able to attend the workshop.” He could sense the disappointment in Mr. Hock, his DNT teacher’s eyes. He said it was fine and could find another person. At this moment, Bryan’s heart sank. A signed consent form would have changed his whole life.
For the next few years, he continued studying science. Bryan had many friends who were in the same course as him, but no one asked about his career.
One fine day in the cafeteria, he bumped into Axel, who was going to change his perspective of a career forever. They introduced themselves, and the courses they took. Turns out, Axel studied engineering.
“What about you? You look like a math person.” he commented.
“Actually, I take science.” Bryan replied, shyly.
“Really? So, you want to be a scientist?”
“Actually, no. My parents wanted me to be a scientist. I wanted to be a builder, like you!”
“Woah. They wanted you to be a scientist? Why? My parents let me decide. It's your future! Not theirs.” Axel commented. Bryan looked down at his shuffling feet. He told Axel about how his parents had discouraged him in the past.
“What? They said that? That's unacceptable! They are your parents! They should be supportive! How are they doing now?”
Bryan explained about his parents’ disapproval about him taking on a part-time job first. “When I was younger, I wanted to be a builder but my parents said that builders were useless.”
“Atrocious!” Axel replied with much disgust. “You should work hard and prove to them what you can be and what builders are!”
Over the weeks, Bryan worked on a desk, with Axel, which Bryan's parents really needed as they had lost their business and started becoming poor.
When they showed the desk to his parents, his parents were shocked. They suddenly knew what Bryan could do for the family and a builder’s worth.
Since then, Bryan and Axel became the best of friends. They started a company together and provided for their families well.