His Achilles' Heel

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Hello all! I was commissioned by the Wonder film campaign to help promote their contest about choosing kindness. I'm honoured to be a part of this campaign because of the beautiful message the book-turned-movie promotes about judging, bullying and proving that we're all the same no matter how we look. Without further ado, I hope you like this sample entry and I also hope you enter this amazing contest (because the prize isn't that bad either with a chance to win their short story to be turned into a short film!)

His Achilles' Heel
By Tahlie Purvis

Noah kept to himself as he stumbled through grade nine. The cafeteria was a place where Noah found himself sitting on a table in the corner with his nose buried in a book. He was never one to be social although he was the one who held the door open, smiled on his way, and rushed to help when needed.

But it wasn't enough to have a friend stay.

Noah's eyes wandered mindlessly as he sat in the cafeteria and keyed in on someone walking in. It was the new kid, Owen, from Wales - tall, moody and above all else, intimidating. Noah watched him cautiously as he walked towards the far side of the room to get food. For some reason Noah couldn't look away.

Owen stood with a tray of food and walked up behind Daniel - a senior - and his friends. Noah held his breath. What if Owen did something to them?

Daniel sensed Owen's presence and turned. Noah watched, wondering if he should go over and stop things before they even started.

But then the unexpected happened.

Owen didn't do anything. He was just waiting to pay for his food. Daniel was the one that stepped forward, took Owen's tray and started to laugh, a harsh noise that echoed around the room. Time seemed to stop. People watched in tense silence, waiting for something to happen.

But no one moved.

Noah frowned. Why wasn't Owen fighting back? He looked like he could easily overpower Daniel. He could do something. But he just stood there, looking on at the laughter until his eyes fell to the floor.

Noah stood up from his seat. People looked away, ignoring the scene. But Noah couldn't. He rushed across the room until he stood beside Daniel.

"Stop," Noah said.

Daniel and his friends laughed harder. "What?"

"I said stop," Noah repeated.

Before he could comprehend anything, wet liquid was poured onto Noah's head, dripping off his hair. The smell of pasta and tomato sauce assaulted his senses and he looked up to see Daniel lowering the tray of Owen's food with a triumphant look.

Daniel and his friends left. Noah sighed, glancing at Owen before sitting at a table and began picking food from his hair. Everything went back to normal, as if nothing had happened but Noah had paid the price.

His kindness was his weakness, something that could be picked on.

His Achilles' heel.

Owen suddenly came and sat beside Noah, giving the latter a smile full of hope. Momentarily, Noah considered his kindness as a strength. Something that kids like Owen looked for.

Perhaps his kindness wasn't what kept him back, but his fear of being kind. A fear of what kids like Daniel would say. A fear of being a pushover because he didn't have tough bones.

Not everyone did.

Not everyone had to.

And slowly, Noah began to see that although an Achilles' heel was something that could weaken him, it didn't have to be what destroyed him.

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