Highly Commended Story - Prideful Praise
“Prideful Praise” by Chew Xi Na Chloe, Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary School, Singapore, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Samuel is a sixteen-year-old male athlete who has achieved his dream of running in track and field representing his country. He has won the out-of-town competition four times in a row and has gotten extremely prideful and has just won his fifth. By this time, he does not even train but still wins the competition anyways, boosting his already huge ego. On his way back home on the plane, however, loomed a life-changing fate for Samuel.
“Oh goodness,” Samuel sighed sarcastically, “I just can’t wait to tell everyone of my victory! I’m going to rub it in John’s face! He’s going to be so jealous!” Putting on a fake Cockney accent, he boasts, “Everyone will gawk at my fifth triumph! My family shall give me whatever I want; my schoolmates shall bow at my feet; I’ll be the king,” he paused dramatically, “Of the world!”
“Alright, Junior, don’t get all high and mighty with me.” his coach grumbled. He hated putting up with Samuel’s nonsense. “To think you barely ran two kilometres before the competition. You don’t deserve a place on the podium, let alone a trophy for first place.” Ignoring his “old man” Samuel replayed his big win for the hundredth time that day. The loud, joyful cheers of the audience, the vigorous clapping, the tape breaking against his chest as he crossed the finish line. Going up on the podium, he could feel a breeze brush against his hardly sweaty face, and the golden trophy clinched in his hands, glittering in the sun. It felt like a dream. He had stored the trophy inside his suitcase, crammed under various shirts and shorts.
A sudden, booming bang coming from the left side of the aeroplane snapped Samuel out of his daydream. “What on earth?” he yelled out of shock. A male voice came through the speakers of the plane, panic and distress clearly evident in his tone. “Brace! Brace! Emergency water landing initiating! Brace for impact! Cabin crew, back to your stations!” Emergency water landing? Samuel mind raced, Why would we need to deploy an emergency water landing? Samuel looked out the left window and immediately shielded his eyes. The fire in the left engine roared, smoke poured out of it rapidly. It was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Scientists would later confirm that this was due to a fluctuation of fuel pressure in the left wing. Looking around, Samuel saw everyone hunching over, hands on their head. He copied this manoeuvre. His heart raced with the increasing speed the plane had as it plunged through the air.
The plane crashed into the ocean with a splash, the impact throwing anything unsecured by a seatbelt onto the ceiling. Samuel’s, if not everyone’s, heart skipped a beat. The impact felt as if he were on a rollercoaster. After a short second of shock, chaos ensued. Passengers threw off their seatbelts, took out life jackets and rushed towards the four exits in the plane. Some of the cabin crew did their best to guide the jostling crowd towards the emergency doors, while others deployed the inflatable slides and lifeboats. The captain’s voice continued to echo through the speakers like the voice of God. “Take out the life vests under your seat. Finish putting it on yourself before helping any children. Pull the string near the left shoulder to inflate it before sliding down the inflatable ramp. Take off your shoes before sliding down. Do not bring anything off the plane. “He reiterated in a somewhat calm, yet firm tone. All staff were not allowed to exit the plane until all the passengers had left.
Samuel started having an anxiety attack and had forgotten all logic. Despite the prior warning, Samuel urgently bent down and pulled out his suitcase from under the seat in front of him. He ripped it out and dug the golden prize out from under his crammed-in outfits. Samuel hesitated. The staff would stop him. How would he hide it? The trophy was rather large. He would have to leave it…
Or would he? The crowd was large. He could try…With clammy hands, he hid the trophy behind his back, and wormed his way into the middle of the pack, shoving against each other to reach the exit. Slowly, he inched past the flight attendant, and finally. He was out.
He found himself on a slippery inflatable ramp leading to a lifeboat, both in orange. Taking out the trophy from behind his back, he laid down and slid down the ramp as if it were a slide in a bouncy castle. However, his palms were still coated in sweat, (then again, whose would not after a plane crash) and his grip on his trophy was starting to loosen. Alas, his trophy slips out of his hand and, with a short gasp, he dived for it. The next thing he knew, he was on his stomach. His beloved trophy was back in its rightful place, his hands. Before Samuel could sigh in relief, a sharp pain started to set in.
Looking behind, Samuel realised his left leg seemed slightly off, twisted unnaturally. Yet another wave of alarm rushed over Samuel. He flailed around wildly, like a fish on land. The passengers in the lifeboat, with the same amount of frenzy, hurriedly backed away from the centre of the boat, making room for the boy. Samuel, with enormous effort, had flipped himself around, his legs in front of him. He could see it clearly now, his dislocated limb. He could no longer move it, a movement he was urgently trying to do as he rocketed onto the surface of the lifeboat, and his left leg was going in first. His vision blurred as he landed. The pain had become unbearable. With foggy eyes, he checked his leg, now pouring red all around him through a hole in his knee. A sharp, white object protruded from it. Hit with nausea and frozen in fear, Samuel had had enough surprises that day. The world went blank.
When Samuel finally came to, he found out that his leg had to be amputated. He could no longer run as fast as he could with his prosthetic leg and had to pull out of the competition.
Eventually, his coach helped him overcome this and he managed to compete again. Samuel learnt not to get ahead of himself and pushed himself harder instead of boasting about how good he is. Why boast about being the best when you can be training to be better?