My Fighting Days

When I was ten my dad put me in the ring with a neighborhood boy, James.  He was my age but stood a few pencil marks above me.  He couldn’t resist calling me names and pinching that sensitive spot under my arm .  I think the teasing is what drove my dad to force us to fight.  He, for some reason, believed that I would prevail over the trash-talking boy.  My dad always had a mad amount of faith in me. Sweet but foolish.

Dad brought out a pair of boxing gloves and tossed one to each of us.  My glove hit my face with a thud.  The boy was left handed, and I was a righty so the match was fair. We pinned our free hand behind us, and Dad sounded the bell.

I moved faster than him, but I doubted I could hit as hard.    The question kept repeating, “What does it feel like to be punched in the face?” I felt like I could have stopped right there and punched myself in the face just for curiosity’s sake. I didn’t care about winning or losing; I just wanted to know if I could handle a hard punch.

We shuffled in the grass for a while before any contact was made. I decided I’d let him throw the first punch, so when his gangly arm swung toward me, I dodged but tripped over my feet, and as I went down his second swing caught my temple and pressed all the thoughts out of my head.

Wow! I stumbled around for a moment and squeezed my eyes tight, damming the tears.   The blow had knocked my fear away. I went crazy on the boy, forgetting the rules and using both arms to beat his face.  He started to cry, but I didn’t let up. The brawl turned emotional—arms flailing, teeth gnashing, hair pulling. It was quite a scuffle.

I lay in the grass itchy and burning, unsure of all the spots where I’d been hit, but glad the thing was over. I could see I had put a cut over the boy’s eye as he looked for other wounds to lick.   The two of us became friends, and while he didn’t stop teasing me, he made sure to stick up for me against anyone else. -ohbygolly


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