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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

In Your Corner


She stood in the ring. Hands were wrapped and gloved properly, but that was all the protection she was allowed to have. She didn’t know who she would face. That’s not something the coordinators allowed – to prevent any pre-fight mischief. So she patiently waited in her corner of the ring. She heard the whispers of the crowd, and nothing positive was being said.

“She won’t last five seconds,” one said.

“She’s too small for this fight,” said another.

She did her best to block it all out.

“Better hope it’s another girl who is just as weak as she is. Otherwise this is going to be a quick fight.”

But some things were harder to block. Because words are not like punches, yet people throw them with the intent to cause pain.

“She’s too pretty to fight.”

“She looks too smart for this.”

“Didn’t her parents teach her not to fight?”

Insult after insult floated through the air. The fight was already beginning in her mind before her opponent could even make an appearance. She did her best to dodge and block each insult s they came but as the whispers grew louder the more difficult it became.

Finally, another person climbed into the ring and the crowd fell silent. She half expected this person to be her opponent. The way things had been between the two of them, it was only a matter of time before they were forced to fight in front of everyone. The opponent had the same amount of protection as she – hands simply wrapped and gloved. The referee quickly went over the rules of the fight. It would be over once one pinned the other or someone surrendered. The look in her opponent’s eyes told her exactly how he thought this fight was going to go.

“Are you ready,” asked the referee.

“I am,” she said confidently.

The confidence in her voice seemed to take him by surprise, but he still confirmed that he was ready as well. The ref allowed the fight to begin and the two stood there in the center of the ring. Staring at each other. Neither saying a word. The crowd still remained silent, which add to the uncomfortableness of the atmosphere.

“I cannot hit a girl,” he said at last.

“Is that so? Do you surrender?”

She knew she was taking a risk of receiving the first blow for saying that, but she also knew that he would not do a thing unless she proved that she was ready and willing to face whatever was going to happen.

“No.” With his response he threw the first punch, as she predicted. She moved out of the way of his first punch, but his second move took her by surprise. When his elbow made contact with her shoulder blade, she lost her footing for a moment and the crowd became loud again.

“She’s too weak!”

“She doesn’t deserve to be in that ring!”

“Take her down!”

“Girls should know how to pick their fights!”

The crowd had then decided the fate of the fight. Between the punches that were thrown at her and the shouts of the crowd, it was difficult for her to focus. He eventually pushed her to the point where she passed out. Before her vision left her, she noticed someone standing in the corner where he initially entered the ring. The person was not dressed for a fight and they never allowed another fight to begin before the previous fight was done and cleared from the ring. She wanted to know who that person was and why they were there.

She awoke in the training center. She felt where each punch left its mark. She replayed the fight in her mind. She was not surprised that she lost, but she wanted to pin point where she went wrong.

“You lasted longer than most said you would,” said a voice.

“What?”

“Most were saying that you would only last half a minute.” A smile accompanied the voice.

She was a bit confused about what was going on and who this person was, and it had to have been plain on her face because the voice then introduced himself.

“Sebastian,” he said as he outstretched a hand, “but most just call me Bash.”

She gingerly nodded, as moving anything hurt. She had heard of him, but thought he was just one of the arena’s myths they liked to share.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you move. I’m sure everything still hurts.”

“It’s okay. I’ll have to move and feel the pain at some point.”

“I could help you, if you wanted help.”

“Help me?”

“I’m guessing you’re probably going to get back into the ring and fight again. Probably the same person, if the owners have anything to say about it. They do love redemption matches. I could help you be ready for the next fight.”

“It probably wouldn’t hurt to have someone to train with.”

“We start as soon as I finish my fight. Be ready, Sloan.”

Sloan watched Bash’s fight. The person he was fighting had someone in his corner just like her opponent did. She wondered what the significance of having someone standing in your corner. Before she could think much more about it, the one she faced in her fight showed up with the one who was in his corner.

“Sloan,” he said gently. “It’s nice to see that you are okay.”

“We were worried about you,” said his corner person.

Sloan just smiled and went back to focusing on the fight that was going on before her.

“Sloan, I am sorry if I injured you.”

“I’m fine,” she said flatly, never tearing her gaze from the fight.

“Trying to learn something from the so-called master?”

“I try to learn things from all fights, Nolan.”

Nolan eventually left and Sloan was able to focus on Bash’s fight. He had a certain grace about the way he fought. It was apparent that he had a particular strategy he was using. He won his fight. He found her in the crowd and motioned for her to meet him in the practice ring.

Sloan wrapped her hands as Bash rewrapped his and asked her about her history with her opponent.

“Why do you need to know my history with Nolan?”

“It gives insight to how you handled the fight.”

“My history with Nolan has nothing to do with how I fight.”

“If you say so,” he said as he climbed into the ring. “Let’s fight then.”

Bash worked with Sloan for the next few hours. He critiqued her form and her strategies. He had her do drill after drill and an assortment of exercises to help strengthen her body. The pain from her fight with Nolan coursed through her body as she endured all of this, but she was determined to press forward. At the end of it all, Bash had Sloan meditate. He said that strength of the mind is just as important, if not more, as physical conditioning. Bash and Sloan did this multiple times a week for a few weeks. They became close and comfortable with each other. Sloan even talked about her history with Nolan. Bash was right about how the history between them affected her fight with him.

A few weeks before Sloan’s return to the ring, the topic of the person in the corner was brought up. It was becoming a more common thing that they were seeing as they attended fights together. There would be two people in the center fighting but each would have someone standing in the respective corners. These people were not coaches, they were supporters. People who had decided that regardless of the outcome of the fight they were going to stand by the side of their fighter. In talking with some of the other fighters, Sloan and Bash learned that some of the people in the corners were significant others and others were family members and some were just friends. The point was to provide a visual for the fighters that they always had someone who was willing to support them.

“What do you think about the corner people,” Sloan asked Bash.

“Eh. Not necessary.”

“So you wouldn’t want someone to be standing in your corner?”

“The idea of someone being there to support me left me many years ago, Sloan. The only person I can ever truly rely on is myself.”

“You don’t think it’s a nice idea that these people are promoting?”

“Oh it’s nice, but it’s not realistic. People are not reliable.”

Sloan didn’t push the topic any further. It was quite clear how Bash felt about the whole idea. She couldn’t help but think this was a result of a past event. He never really pressed her for her past; therefore she was going to show him the same respect. She understood if it was because of a past event – possibly past relationship. She had been struggling with the idea of trusting someone again because of how things went with Nolan. She wanted Bash to know that he could trust and rely on her. She felt like she could rely on him, but she was still trying to figure all of that out. She decided to start by standing in his corner at his next fight.

Bash stood in the center of the ring. No one in his corner. His opponent entered the ring and his corner person followed him. The referee went through his typical pre-fight speech and the fight began. Bash went through the motions as he always did, but this opponent had something up his sleeve. The opponent took him by surprise and Bash ended up on his back for a few moments. In those moments he caught a glimpse of something in the corner. He was not sure exactly what he saw, but it looked like someone standing in his corner. By the time Bash got back on his feet and in a place where he could look to see if there was someone there, no one was there. Did he imagine what he saw? He did see someone there, right? The idea threw off the rest of his fight and that was the first fight he lost in years.

While this was going on, Sloan was having a fight of her own. She was on her way to stand in Bash’s corner when Nolan stopped her in the training center. He was nice to her at first and she tried to be polite and explain that she was on her way to see Bash fight. Nolan became uneasy as soon as she mentioned Bash’s name.

“You two have been spending quite a bit of time together lately.”

“We’re friends. Is that a problem?”

“Are you sure you’re just friends with him?”

“What’s it to you, Nolan? You and I are done. My life does not revolve around you. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go support my friend.”

Nolan wasn’t happy with how she responded to him. As Sloan tried to get around Nolan, he stopped her. He didn’t harm her. He just continued to block her path to the arena. He also continued to press her for information about Bash. Once he realized that she wasn’t going to tell him anything, he decided to go for a different approach. This one was more physical but still no harm came to her. Sloan could hear the crowd as Bash’s fight ended. Right as Nolan was about to hit Sloan across the face, Bash walked in and intercepted. Bash strongly encouraged Nolan to leave.

“He won’t always be there to protect you, Sloan,” were Nolan’s parting words.

“Are you sure you want to get back into the ring,” Bash asked.

Sloan wasn’t sure if she wanted to get back into the ring with Nolan, but she knew that it was better to face her fears than to keep running from them. Bash could see that Nolan had impacted Sloan in some way. One day during the meditation portion of their training, Bash decided to take a different approach. He gave her a little pep talk about dealing with Nolan. She tried to fight him a bit on it, but Bash was persistent and patient with her.

“The bridge has been burnt between you two. Don’t beat around the bush. You have tough skin. Utilize it. The friendship is dead. You need to remind him of who you are.”

Sure plenty of people in her life had been telling her of how she had been so strong through the Nolan situation, but this was the first time she was really jolted into what needed to happen. She needed to stop allowing him to get into her head. She needed to remind him of how strong she actually is.

The day of her fight came. She found herself in the same situation as the last time she was in the ring. Alone, crowd full of insults, and Nolan was the one she was facing. Nolan had a sly look on his face, as did his corner person. The referee did his thing and declared the fight to begin. Just like before, they stood there staring at one another and the crowd was silent.

“Where is Bash,” Nolan teasingly asked.

Sloan made no response as she was doing her best to remain focused on the task at hand.

“Not going to talk? That’s fine. It’ll make pinning you that much easier.”

Nolan threw the first punch again. This time instead of moving to the side she flipped backwards, kicking Nolan in the face which caused him to lose his footing. As he was recovering, she prepared herself for her next move. The crowd was still silent. They were not as eager to pick sides this time. The two in the ring went back and forth as to who gave and who received punches and kicks. Once again, she reached the point where she was about to pass out. As she collapsed, she noticed something in her corner. It was Bash. He stood there in his confident yet not intimidating way. Nolan also took notice of Bash in the corner.

“He isn’t allowed to be here. He’s her coach,” Nolan shouted.

“No,” Sloan said as she got up. “He’s my friend. And he’s standing in mycorner. A corner you once stood in yourself. You can’t handle the idea that someone else might want to stand where you once stood. Sorry, I’m not sorry, but you will have to get used to seeing other people stand there.”

Nolan was silent, and before any more punches were thrown he surrendered.

------- Author's Note This can also be found on Writer's Block - a community of writers.

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