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when i was young i took boxing lessons. i had to drive to this small town, about 20 minutes from where i lived. i was the only girl. tons of guys…and me.

no one paid me a bit of attention there. i think they silently rolled their eyes every time i walked in. however, i was determined back then. they could look all they wanted, i wasn’t going anywhere. i was going to master the art of boxing.

well, i think that “master” is a strong word, but i did end up learning the craft. i became pretty good, if i do say so myself. in fact, i was the best female boxer there at that club!

i paid attention to my trainer and did what i was told. got in pretty good shape. it was the only time in my life when i had some nicely defined muscles. i felt good. competent. strong.

i mean, outside of there i was a mess. but when i went to the boxing club, i was a honed mess. eventually instead of being stared at, i got a few nods and smiles. i was quiet. kept to myself.

one day while i was training another woman walked in. she wanted to learn to box, too. i was happy to have another female there. she did well. we never became friends, but we were friendly. she was quiet, too. i liked that about her.

it was a calm, rainy day when our trainer decided to have us get in the ring together. now, i am not a fighter. i hate violence. and having been the recipient of violence too many times to count, i generally avoid conflict of any kind. furthermore, i had never hit another human. ok, once or twice when i was a child…but she was an ass and deserved it.

anyway, our trainer asks us if we want to do a little sparring. i think to myself, why not? right? we were about the same height and build. the other woman was very excited about the idea. so, we jump in (along with the trainer).

things started off slow. jabs and routine punches that held no power. just testing movements and skill. seeing what all we had learned. it was ok. more boring than i had previously anticipated. that is, until our trainer asked us if we wanted to go a round.

my cohort seemed very eager at the prospect of actually getting to fight. i was more concerned with if i would succeed or fail. never having failed at anything in my life at this point, i had nerves. it’s one thing to hit a bag, spar a bit. another thing entirely to have a bout. eventually i decided what the hell! and agreed.

we took off that stupid headgear and stood across from each other. the guys that were there that day came and stood around to watch us. that only made me more nervous. an audience was something i wasn’t prepared for.

all my nerves disappeared, though, when the bell rang to signal the fight. we did a short little dance before the trainer yelled out, “someone throw a punch!” and so i looked over at him, he nodded as if to nudge me along and i shrugged my shoulders. ok then. what do i have to lose?

and that’s when it happened. two left jabs and she was down. i barely touched her. so i stood there and looked at him, silently asking now what?! his eyes got big, a smile was on his face and he was yelling at the other woman to GET UP!

she did. as she stood up, i decided i liked boxing with an actual partner. i decided that i liked hitting someone else! it felt good. and that is the day i realized i had a lot of inner rage that i had been burying for years. you have to feel bad for the other woman, at this point.

the fight was on again. she was a mixture of pissed and afraid. i, on the other hand, was happy. that’s it. just happy. having fun. the fight was very short. she never landed a punch, which was actually upsetting, because i like getting punched in the face every now and again. wakes me up. makes me feel alive. i had been punched many times in life before this fight. taking pain was something i was used to.

well, two jabs and a right cross later and she was down for the count. out. she was laying on the mat, holding her bloody nose and looking at me with wide eyes. my eyes were bright. i was looking at nothing in particular. but i remember standing there, looking like a fool, with the hugest grin on my face. not grinning because i had won. after all, not winning wasn’t an option. i was grinning like a moron because that had felt good.

she never came back after that day. i don’t know what became of her. they joked about how she probably decided to take up ballet.

the fighter. me. of all people. and it came so naturally.

that’s the thing about me now. i long to give up. i long to be done. but there’s this fighter that lives inside of me, always has been there. that fighter fights me…every step of the way. it doesn’t know how to give up on anything. not life, not love…not anything.

the fighter inside of me pisses me off.

pisses me off and makes me proud. there’s a fire that lives inside of me…deep, deep within. and even in my darkest times it’s never completely went out. there’s always something inside that keeps the coals burning hot, at least. smoldering. waiting.

the fire inside has not raged within for quite some time. i haven’t been alive in years. i float, unwittingly, like the butterfly throughout my days. however, i don’t sting anymore. i just float aimlessly around, waiting for a gust to carry me away. and yet, here i stay.

it makes me wonder if maybe i ought to have a go with someone. see if that will ignite a little passion inside and bring that fire back to life. maybe i should try and find that woman…

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