Sports Fiction posted January 1, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
Disabled Does Not Mean Unabled

Water Rat

by Brett Matthew West

Born armless, Brandon Harris looked back at Carver Heights, its street violence, and the world he fled at the tender age of fourteen. He allowed his huge heart to set his surroundings, and the swimming pools he competed in, to do his talking; not the hatred he could have been filled with.

Escaping the harsh realities that claimed the lives of several of his friends to create a better life for himself, Brandon ditched his gun and drug-filled neighborhood. His family remained behind in the danger zone.

Before his big race at the Swanson Invitational, the lean swimmer told KMSS television reporter Edmund Rice, "I wanted to show what I'm made of. What I can do."

"What Brandon has achieved is to become the Number Three ranked swimmer in the country in the 100 meter freestyle," Rice informed his audience.

"I've discovered ways to swim competitively in the butterfly, the backstroke, and the breaststroke. I like doing difficult things. The easy ones I leave to someone else," Brandon chuckled.

His coach, Jorge Kamini, stated, "Brandon is highly regarded within the sport of swimming for his laser-sharp focus, his kindness, and his discipline. These qualities make Brandon the athlete he's become."

"It's more his aura," the meet's organizer, Kathleen Smyth, interjected. "Brandon's what my father used to call plain good folk. People smile around him. Like most other paralympic athletes, Brandon does not want sympathy. Instead, people are drawn to him."

The young man remembered his father died in a police shootout when he was nine. The formidable loss broke his heart, but not his spirit. Brandon's dream of a better life than the streets provided helped him carry on.

Impressed by the positive attitude, his coach said, "Brandon prefers to look for his next challenge. The pool offers him new goals to achieve."

Competitive swimming allowed Brandon to find solace from the bullies in his old school who constantly derided him for being armless. He knew his talents were in his mind, his heart, and his feet. That's how Brandon discovered his way around the pool.

Brandon told the interviewer, "I took my first dip in the canal that divides Carver Heights in two when I was four years old. When I started in the pool, I wore a life jacket to stay afloat. A volunteer at the pool taught me to swim."

"Brandon is a true water rat. He works out at the gym six days a week. He's in the pool every morning at five," his coach chimed in.

Proud of the seventeen medals he'd won so far over the course of his career, Brandon competed in several countries including Panama, Australia, and Japan. That's where he was when he received the tragic news his family's home in Carver Heights burned to the ground. Unable to assist them crushed Brandon. But, there was nothing he could do.

"Brandon's been through a lot, but his desire is what's brought him this far. He expects so much of himself and thrives on meeting expectations. These are Brandon's biggest motivations. Without them, he had no future. When you look at Brandon, you do not see his disability. All you see is a person who strives to get better in his chosen sport every day," his coach said.

Brandon headed for the pool for warm-ups. It was race time.

Memories Of Youth writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story about a character who reminisces about the past. It can be good or bad, happy or sad, etc. Word count is 200 - 700 words.

Time Stand Still, by cleo85, selected to complement my story.

So, thanks cleo85, for the use of your picture. It goes so nicely with my story.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by cleo85 at

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