Writing Challenges

An Act Of Courage

Welcome to Day 10 of 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing, the creative writing challenge that 4 out of 5 politicians agree is the reason for the deficit. Today’s prompt is The Mayor, and you can totally blame Mike for this one. Don’t forget to link up at the end of this post if you participated in today’s challenge before paying the taxman.


An Act Of Courage

parade, trombone, uniforms, street

The collar of my shirt, as worn as it was, was too tight. I really wanted to yank off my tie and undo at least two buttons, but I knew Mama would be upset. We had received very stern instructions before leaving the house this morning.  We would wear our best clothes and be happy about it. We would not speak unless spoken to and be happy about it. We would be polite when we did speak. We would say please and thank you. We would behave. And we would be happy about it.

For once, neither Patrick nor I rolled our eyes at this speech. Truth be told, neither of us could do more than look at our feet, these days. And certainly on this day, we would both do our best not to add to the Heller twins’ – or the Hellion twins, as most people called us – reputation.

The whole town had turned out. We stood on the podium in front of the small one-story building that we called our city hall. The local high school marching band played some godawful noise that passed for a fight song in these parts. The sun beat down on us and I wished again that I could pull off my stupid tie.

The mayor was droning on and on about bravery. About how bravery was not reserved to the biggest, strongest men. That bravery could be found in the weakest among us or the smallest among us. That, indeed, the moment a loved-one was in danger we all could be brave and do what needed to be done. And then he turned to me.

“Robert Heller, I am pleased to present you with this plaque commemorating your heroic actions, the actions that saved your brother, Patrick, from drowning. Your bravery that day, when you pulled Paddy from the lake, is an inspiration to all of us. Well done, young man. We are very proud of you.”

And then the mayor handed me the plaque and shook my hand. Everyone was clapping and cheering. Mama, with tears in her eyes, was smiling and nodding at me. Only Paddy was unmoved. He continued to stare rigidly down at his feet. Mama gave him a slight shove toward me. “Go on,” she said. “Go congratulate your brother.”

A photographer from the local paper captured the instant that Paddy finally looked up at me. The caption under the photo said that Patrick Heller gazed with hero-worship at his twin brother Robert, who saved his life by pulling him back into their small fishing boat after Patrick had fallen out.

But none of them knew. I knew, though. Paddy’s eye weren’t lit with worship ’cause I pulled him into the boat. They were lit with the promise of revenge for pushing him out of it in the first place.


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