By Jennifer Velasquez
Sweat pours down my body in buckets. I can hear my heart beating loudly in my chest. A sea of faces are watching me from outside the ring, but they’re all starting to blend. My lungs are on fire. I think I hear my name being called but it sounds muffled, like it’s coming from miles away. I taste something warm and coppery in my mouth. Everything hurts.
I barely register the sound of the buzzer going off, when suddenly i’m being pushed forward. I stagger into the center of the ring. I try to concentrate on the looming figure before me, but there are too many black spots in my vision. Just as the second fight begins, my new opponent is already on the move. He attempts to land a hit on me. I weakly block it, but not before he can feint a second punch to my right and clock me on my left shoulder. I can feel the pain begin to blossom. I ignore it. I have endured much worse.
The crowd roars in approval. I try to distance myself from my opponent as much as possible, but I stumble backwards. He takes this as an opportunity to advance on me again. The next thing I know, I receive a sharp jab to the chest, that leaves me breathless. Then a punch to the stomach. I spit the overflowing saliva and blood in my mouth onto the matts. I take a step back again, but my opponent is too quick for me. He kicks me hard onto the ground. The cheers grow louder. I scramble to get up despite my muscles loud protest, but I don’t have enough strength. My opponent looms over me, a cruel smile stretched across his face. I can barely make out his features in the limited amount of light the ring provides, but I can see the ice cold fury in his eyes, he has come for his retribution.
I close my eyes as I play out the outcome of this fight. My opponent will win by beating me to the bloody pulp. Someone will drag my battered body, none too kindly off the rough mats, and hand me over to Coach. Coach will barely spare a glance at my body, and walk away angrily as he always does, probably smoking a cigarette or two. All of this plays out through my mind as I wait for the final blow. I anticipate the pain the way someone would welcome a familiar friend. I can’t help but smile a bloody toothed grin.
"I honestly don't know what the hell is wrong with you kid, and I don’t think I ever want to find out." Coach grumbles as we walk back to the crappy apartment complex we both live in. I chuckle, lighting up another cigarette from my pack, handing the lighter back to Coach. He sighs as he takes it back, shaking his head in disapproval at my twisted sense of humor.
“You can’t just give up in the middle of a fight. How many times do I need to say this in order for it to get through your thick skull?” Coach says sternly, his face as serious as always. I want to laugh even more, but I know that would only further anger him. Instead I roll my eyes and don’t answer the question. I inspect my new injuries. The bandages on my hands are poorly wrapped again.The bandage on my left hand is already sliding off my knuckles, but that’s what you get when you lose as much as I do. No one cares enough to properly fix you anymore...