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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: When Mama Fainted...
By Gerald Shuler
03/02/08


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Five-year-old Spencer’s eyes sparkled proudly as he watched his mother sing and dance in the light of the brilliant stage lanterns. Standing backstage, he could watch all the entertainers, both the talented and the soon-to-be-forgotten hopefuls, leave their heart and soul with the audience. Most of them would never make it to the bigtime but that didn’t matter to Spencer. Right now he was watching his mother. She had already made it as a music hall entertainer because the audiences loved her.

Tonight, though, his mother’s performance lacked its normal sparkle. She seemed dizzy and her face had become frighteningly pale. Worse than that, she had huge beads of sweat pouring down her face. Sweat. Spencer’s mother was too professional for sweat. That’s why it came as no surprise to anyone, least of all to Spencer, when she fainted in the middle of her routine.

“What’s she doin’? She can’t faint yet.” The stage manager screamed so loud the audience gasped. “She has to finish… I’ll fire her… I’ll… I’ll…”

Spencer wanted to rush out to his mother’s side but he knew that would never be allowed during a performance. He looked around frantically to see who would help her. Nobody.

“Get somebody out there performing.” The horrible stage manager wouldn’t let up. “I don’t care who… just get somebody out there singin’ somethin’.”

Spencer felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into the harsh eyes of the manager’s assistant. “Is that your mother, kid?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Kin you sing or dance or anythin’?”

“Some.”

“Well, I guess you the one gonna halfta finish for yo’ mama.” He pried Spencer’s hand from the curtain and gave him a push toward the center of the stage. “Sing somethin’. Sing for yo’ supper, child, ‘cuz yo’ mama sure ain’t doin’ it.”

Spencer found himself at the middle of the stage facing a packed house. He turned around to see his mother being pulled off stage. He was alone. A flood of thoughts rushed through his young mind in an instant. 'Mama could get fired. I gotta be the man of the family. They want me to sing.'

Not sure what was expected, he began to sing his mother’s song. The crowd began to quiet down a little so Spencer sang louder. The audience loved the boy’s determination. Before he had started his second verse coins began plopping on the stage all around him. Bolstered with confidence, the young lad began to dance like his mother had taught him. All the while, money kept showering. Abruptly, he stopped his little song and dance and looked out over the crowd.

“Folks,’ Spencer held his hands up for silence. “Folks, you keep on tossin’ money up here for me and Mama. I’m gonna’ stop singin’ for just a little bit so I can pick all these coins up. I promise when I’m done I’ll finish my Mama’s song.” He looked at the audience with huge, innocent eyes. “Okay?”

The audience burst into instant laughter and applause.

After Spencer finally finished singing and dancing he bowed like he’d seen others do. Then he ran offstage to a flurry of activity. The assistant manager turned him around and pushed him back onstage.

“Keep bowing until the stop clapping.” He said.

His mother had recovered from her fainting and watched her son from where normally he had watched her. The pride she had could not be hidden. That was her boy. At last, the audience applause subsided and Spencer got off for the last time. The stage manager grabbed Spencer’s hand enthusiastically.

“Well done, my boy, well done.” He bent down on one knee to look at Spencer eye to eye. “You got some talent, boy. You got a future in this business.”

As mother and son headed for the dressing room a press agent hollered one final question. “Hey, boy, what’s yer name?”

Spencer looked at his mama. She nodded approval.

“My name is Spencer. Charles Spencer Chaplin.” He looked into his mama’s loving eyes again and she looked at the press agent.

“Make it easy for the world to remember” she said confidently. “Just call him Charlie Chaplin.”

(This is the true story of how Charlie Chaplin, the world’s most famous silent screen star, got his start in show business.)


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This article has been read 1107 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shirley McClay 03/07/08
Wow.. thats so cool! I can't imagine my 4 year old stepping up like that!
LauraLee Shaw03/07/08
AWESOME!!!! I loved being led into a true life account. AMAzing story.
Debbie Wistrom03/07/08
Thanks for the history lesson, but I would have liked it anyway.
Seema Bagai 03/09/08
Great story. The note at the end makes it even better.
Kristen Hester03/11/08
I'm really impressed with this. Your opening sentence was great. It really grabbed my attention. It was fun to realize the little boy was Charlie Chaplin in the end. There isn't really much I can offer as far as red ink. I was beginning to think it was a little predictable, but then we learned the boy was Charlie Chaplin and I was surprised by that. Great job!
Betty Castleberry03/11/08
I learned something. This held my attention and was well written, too.
Joshua Janoski03/11/08
This was a very cool story. I love that there is real history to be learned here. Masterful writing.
Sara Harricharan 03/12/08
Oooh, a bit of history in here. I never knew that was how he started out. This was great, I was with you all the way through this. The realistic setting and especially the atmosphere had me there with Spencer and wondering what was happening and what would happen next. Nice job! I especially like when he stopped singing to pick up the coins. ^_^
Jan Ackerson 03/12/08
Loved this, from the first word to the last. Simply top-notch.
Sherry Castelluccio 03/12/08
What a fun way to teach a history lesson! I had no idea that was about Charlie Chaplin. Well done, that was awesome.
Joanne Sher 03/12/08
Awesome! I LOVE that this is true, and that you "did the digging" to share it. Perfect for the topic, and an absolutely engaging read. Excellent.
Sara Harricharan 03/13/08
***Congrats on your EC!*** ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/13/08
Goof one week at sending, and just see what happens next. This is a wonderful entry and well worthy of first place in EC. Congratulations
Marita Thelander 03/13/08
Jerry, I am so excited for you. Move on up to Masters where you belong. : )
Sheri Gordon03/13/08
Congratulations on your EC. This is a very interesting story, fit the topic perfectly, and is very well written. Great job.
Shelley Ledfors 03/13/08
An absolutely wonderful story that would have been great even if it had been fiction...but is even better since it is true! Terrific writing. A huge congrats on your well deserved placement!
Beth LaBuff 03/13/08
I love your "rest of the story" approach. Great entry, masterfully written! Congrats on your level placing and 1st place EC!
Joanne Sher 03/13/08
Woowoo! Up with us now, mister master! This is much better than you think (obviously LOL) - congrats on your VERY well-deserved first place. :D
Joy Faire Stewart03/13/08
Congratulation on your 1st place! Very interesting story and love that it's true.
Peter Stone03/13/08
Absolutely outstanding article, and congrats on your placing.
Karen Wilber 03/19/08
You made this true story readable and entertaining. There's tension, humor and sweetness. Excellent. Congrats on a well deserved EC.