Chapter 35:

Round 3, Match 1: WittyAcorn vs Daisonia. WittyAcorn:

Community Sudden Fiction Tournament Arc

Round 1, Match 1: WittyAcorn vs Daisonia.

Prompt: Achille's Heel.

Participant: WittyAcorn (

Sana was an epiphany on the field. If you digitally removed all the other players from the footage of one of her matches, it would look like she was waltzing with the ball. She was so elegant, yet so fierce. No defender could steal the ball from her and no goalkeeper could block her strikes. 

Football is a team sport, but she really challenged this paradigm. As the right centre-forward (she being the left), I got a front-seat view of her dance of annihilation every single day. And I felt useless. It’s not like Sana didn’t want to pass the ball to me, she just rarely ever needed to.

She’s only been in our school for a year. She was so shy on her first day. Not that she isn’t still. But it was so cute the first time. 

She came up to me and said, ‘Good morning, Ms Nina. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I heard from someone that you’re the… the captain of the girls’ football team. I… I wanted to… I mean… I just… wanted to ask—’ 

‘Nice to meet you too, Sana. No need to be so formal with me. Just call me Nina. We’re the same age, after all. We’ve already had the trials for the football team—’ 

‘Oh. I see! Never mind. I’m sorry!’ She was blushing so much that her cheeks looked like tomatoes. Little, cute plump tomatoes. She started to run away all embarrassed-like as if I’d lifted her skirt. She was so quick too. I had to grab her by the arm to stop her. She almost pulled me to the ground with her force. ‘Oh, Ms Nina! I’m so sorry! Are you alright?’ she screamed. 

‘Call me Nina.’ 

‘Are you alright… Nina?’ 

‘Yeah, I’m fine. What I was saying, before you took off like a Tesla Model S, was that we’ve already had the trials but since you’re a transfer student, we can let you try out anyways. Come to the football field at four o’clock.’ 

‘Th… Thank you for the opportunity, Ms—’ 

‘Just Nina.’ 

‘Thank you for the opportunity, Nina.’ 

‘Have you played football before?’ 

‘No. But I want to try it out.’ 

‘You do work out, I bet.’ 

‘How… How do you know that?’ ‘I noticed it when I grabbed your arm. Your muscles are toned. And it felt more like grabbing to the handlebar of a moving train than the arm of a petite girl.’ She really was small. About five foot two, I would guess. Her figure was lean and her hair were short. She almost looked like a tomboy. But this remark of mine made her blush even more. 

‘I’m really sorry, Nina! I’m sorrry!’ And before I could say anything, she ran off at an even greater speed. If she were a Tesla Model S before, she was an F-22 Raptor now. 

At the trial she excelled in every test that we threw at her. I asked her a million times if she was sure that she wasn’t suffering from memory loss and had forgotten that she’d played football before. But she was insistent that this was her first time touching a ball.

We started her out as the left-back but she quickly moved up to centre-midfield and then striker. Her rise was meteoric. She single-handedly took our team from a decent performer in district tournaments to a national champion. 

In the beginning, she was really happy too. She was glad that she could help us all achieve so much. She was humble too. She always credited her teammates for her success. But we all knew that we were useless. Especially me. Sana did everything I did, but much better. 

Then she started getting too much attention. Reporters, recruiters and all kinds of people wanted a piece of her. She became a mini-celebrity. She looked so uncomfortable talking to these strange people. And I think it got to her. She looked really sad. She didn’t look like she was enjoying it anymore. 

So she started throwing her matches. She started fucking up her strikes. She let defenders steal the ball from her. She was great at faking at it too. Everybody thought that she was a one-hit wonder who’d had her time in the sun. All kinds of rumours started floating around. The most egregious one was that she’d become a junkie. But I knew that it was all an act. She was about to be put on reserve. So I confronted her. 

‘Sana, this is ridiculous! Stop pretending like you can’t play well. I know that you’re shy and you don’t like dealing with all the attention. But it’s no excuse to throw it all away. You’re a natural. Do you know how hard it is for someone like me to see you fall like this? I work so hard yet I can’t achieve even a tenth of what you can. We’ll help you with whatever problems you have.’ 

‘Nina, I got an offer from the National Sports Academy.’ 

‘That’s great, Sana! You should go. You can shine even brighter there. But I don’t think they’ll accept you the way you’re playing now.’ 

‘No. I don’t want to go.’ 

‘Why not? I’d kill to go there. This weakness is really holding you back, you know. You’ve gotta overcome your shyness.’ 

‘No. It’s not that.’ 

‘Then what is it?’ 

‘I got so good at football, even I was surprised. But I never wanted to be good at it. And I took your place. I didn’t mean to. And now, I will have to go away if I continue to be good at it. I don’t want to leave here. I joined the football team not because I like football or anything. I’m not that into sports. I liked something else, that’s why I joined.’ 

‘What are you saying?’ 

‘What… What I’m saying, Nina, is that my weakness isn’t my shy nature. It’s you.’


Judge's Feedback

znf: Cute! I liked the progression of the story; I just wish there was something in the second half where Sana does or says something that reminds us that she's in it for Nina. The first and second parts feel a bit disconnected as a result. For

OscarHM: Nice interpretation of the prompt, I like the idea that Nina is Sana’s Achilles heel, very romantic or whatever. You use the name Nina way too much in the opening few paragraphs, a bit distracting. Now I have to mention the thing that really bothered me about this story, really took me out of the experience, which is your setting of this story inside of football and not a more individual sport. In football, the narrative you have described is just impossible and it makes it hard for me to suspend my disbelief. It isn’t like basketball where an individual literally can drag a team of average joes to success, because of the dynamics of what works in football you require the whole team to be good to succeed. And walking onto the pitch for the first time and being gifted enough to play left back, center mid and striker is laughable. They all require markedly different skill sets that you have to learn. Again the difference in positions in football is much more pronounced than say basketball. I recognize the strengths of the story and can imagine myself enjoying it if the sport was changed but I am left with way too much “that’s just not how that works” in my mind when I’m reading. Since this was a flash fiction contest, I understand there wasn’t exactly time to research this so I don’t know what you would’ve done except maybe choose a different sport or maybe not get unlucky enough to have a judge that’s into the sport you chose.

otkrlj: good interpretation of the prompt. Liked the whole vibe you created, and the "twist" at the end was good two. honestly, you were pretty much tied with Daisona in quality, but you called soccer football, so you lost the tiebreaker

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