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.Β  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.Β 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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  • Hey Nicky! Ah, a tale of brothers and lies; nicely done. Oh, I may be a little tardy today, but I’ll slap it into your quivering IN BOX as soon as I can, believe me. Indigo x

  • MikeWJ

    He said quivering inbox

  • MikeWJ

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s always a backstory to every story you hear. And you’ve revealed one here quite nicely.

  • That almost has a Shyamalan twist to it

  • Ohhh, nice! This reminds me of my sister and I. I was the one doing the pushing..

  • Perfect! Sibling love at its finest! I can relate to that.

  • Hahahahaha!

  • Oh, I love it. Didn’t see it coming but should have. Great tale, Nicky.

  • Tami Von Zalez

    Had to punt on this topic today – enjoyed your take on it ~

  • Wow. I think this is the best piece of yours that I’ve ever read and, God knows, you’ve written some great ones. You made ever single minute come alive and each character so very real. I loved how you wrote it in the first person. Really great work, Nicky. And you should enter this piece in some short fiction contests. In fact, I may nag you until you do. Again, bravo!

  • That is fantastic. If I were you, I’d award myself a million points.

  • Because we all do a lot of “fun” posts it’s easy to forget that many of the people who blog are actually elegant and excellent writers. Nicky, this little piece is fantastic! It’s brilliant, really!

  • MalisaHargrove

    Ah, ha, ha! I love it! What a beautifully written story. The opening paragraph had me hooked with mama saying that “you would be happy about it.” You captured so many true emotions in this piece. Bravo, girl, bravo!

  • Woah, woah, woah.

  • Most excellent writing and used of the prompt. I really enjoyed this. I sensed that all was not as it seemed with the twins, but still was surprised at the ending.

  • Linda is right…excellent story. Love the twist.

  • Oh hush, the pair of you.

  • MikeWJ

    I thought so, too, Jayne.

  • My mouth is open as my brain is going, “Oh no he “did – ent!” AMAZING story! I didn’t see it coming… it is so dark and wonderful!

  • Was there an all-out brawl on stage? That would have ruled. Brother takes the plaque and hammers his brother to the shock of the crowd.

  • Pingback: Prosaic Shades of Gray » » John Mayer for Mayor()

  • Thank you Indigo. No worries about being tardy. But please, be gentle with my In Box. πŸ™‚

  • So did you. πŸ™‚

  • Yup, and the back stories are always more interesting than the front stories. Thank you, Michael.

  • Wouldn’t that be a Shyamalanian twist? Either way, I still can’t pronounce his name.

  • Of course you were πŸ™‚

  • I’m glad you enjoyed Boom Boom!

  • Thanks, Dufus!

  • It happens Tami, no problem. Just don’t let it happen again! πŸ˜‰

  • Wow, indeed. I really don’t know what to say. I guess growing up with two brothers gave me a bit of an edge with this story. Thanks, Jayne.

  • What a fantastic idea! I wish I’d thought of it… πŸ™‚

  • Thank you so much, hon!

  • Yeah, I don’t know why but I was *really* able to *imagine* that speech by “Mama” so well… πŸ™‚ Thanks, Malisa!

  • It’s funny, but the last line was the first thing I wrote! I’m glad you enjoyed it, Linda!

  • Thank you, Cheryl!

  • Oh, but he did! πŸ™‚ Thanks, Katherine!

  • While I’m positive they went at it, I don’t think they went at it there – otherwise the caption in the newspaper would have been very different!

  • KZ

    Great execution, Nicky. I like the surprise! It totally shifts the tone right at the very end, and makes you re-think everything you’ve just read.

  • LOVED the twist at the end of this story, Nicky! BRAVO!


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