General Fiction posted September 8, 2016

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
A boy discovers heroic actions come with a price


by oliver818

His body thrust upwards, his lungs fighting for breath, water pouring from his mouth and nose. Spluttering, his eyes closed with the smashing of a wave, opening long enough to twist desperately, searching, before another wave crashed down. His eyes blinked hurriedly, chasing away slashes of wet hair. Another wave, and then, there she was! His muscles burned as he ploughed through the waves, arms slipping in and out of the murky, foamy water. His hands grabbed a tiny body, held on for all he was worth. Her screaming and coughing face pressed against his as the waves continued to smash over them. His legs thrashed the icy water as it surrounded him, numbing his frozen body.

And then suddenly it was all ok. Strong hands hauled the screaming child into the boat, then him. Small traces of feeling returned as he huddled under the sparking, silver blanket, white, watery tails flying out behind the boat. A long, toned arm, lay heavy on his shoulders, a powerful voice told him he was the bravest kid they'd ever met.

Tony's eyes burst open to the touch of a warm, Sunday morning sun shining through the curtains. His aching muscles and throbbing head told him it hadn't been a dream. "Why did he feel so empty?", he whispered to himself.

His eyes closed momentarily as he remembered the feeling of being a hero. Somehow it wasn't like what he had imagined.

"I didn't think, I jumped," he told the journalist, who had one hand solidly on his shoulder. The other was pushed up close to his face, the microphone bumping against his lips, leaving a sour, chemical taste.

"Tell us more, son. What did it feel like to dive ten metres head first into a crashing sea?"

"I, I just don't remember. I'm sorry."

"Come on, your heroic actions just saved the life of a two year old. Give us something for the mums and dads out there to have a wee sob over."

"I mean, I saw her go over, and I knew I had to do something. A little girl like that, not even three. I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd let her die."

"And there we go, ladies and gentlemen, the bravest fifteen year old in the city!"

He'd never been any good at speaking in public, he thought to himself. But swimming, that he could do. He had seen his reward in the face of girl's mother, heard it in her screams of joy, the sound of kisses on a tiny face. The tight arms of the father, his tears dripping down Tony's neck, sobs echoing in his ears.

"We'll never forget this Tony, never. If you ever need anything, anything at all, you come and find us." A final pat on the shoulder, and the small family was gone, herded off under the protective cover of the ambulance crew.

But what had the kid from his college yelled?

"Oi, hero boy! Bet you think you're the big man now, right? Saving the world? Been on the tele now and all! Is that why you did it? Taking on a few little waves to save a bloody toddler? I could have done that you know! You're not so great!"

His tongue ran over his salty, swollen lips. Suddenly everything seemed a little bitter. Why is it always the negative stuff that he remembered the most? Maybe it was because that had been the first of several taunts. Life as a hero it seemed involved scrawling through hundreds of Facebook posts and trying not to get hurt by the nasty ones.

Back at he beach, the slap had taken him by surprise. "You idiot, what were you thinking?"

He would never forget that face. She'd run all the way from work after seeing him on the TV. Large, fat tears streaked down her normally calm, beautiful face. Her hair hung over his eyes, disheveled, mangled by panic. Her arms were around him, her long red nails biting into the back of his head. "I thought I'd lost you!" she screamed.

"Mum, mum it's ok, I'm ok, I'm fine!"

"You could have died Tony! What would I do without you?"

"I'm sorry mum, I wasn't thinking. I couldn't just let her drown though!"

"I know baby, you're a brave lad. Let's go home eh, get you into some dry clothes. My big, stupid, bloody hero!"

The door creaked open. "Is my brave, young hero awake yet? You've got some visitors."

Her tiny hand ran over his face, touching his nose, his eyes, his ears. Maybe, somehow she knew what he had done for her, he thought to himself. And in that moment, he was sure he'd done the right thing.

Heroic writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story on the topic: heroic
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by suzannethompson2 at

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