The dirty penny taste of blood coats the back of my throat, and I think to myself, “Well, all right then. Let’s do this.”
I resist the urge to rub my nose, to glance at the back of my glove. She, my opponent, will land another blow if I break focus. Her eyes hover unwavering above the sweaty cheek guards of her headgear. Leather, sweat, and salt hang in the air. The ether of a boxing ring. The strings, the vibrations, that connect us, that let me feel her next thought, her next move—or not.
We lock eyes but it’s all about the periphery. Not fooled by her shoulders, I squint at her, smirk at her, while really I track the shifts of her sternum.
If I do this, she’ll do that. But she’s thinking the same, so I’ll do something else. But she knows I’ll pretend, so she’ll pretend, too. What if, what if—gotcha. What if—oh, sorry, I lied. What if, what if—oh really? Fuck you, crafty bitch.
Her knuckles grind against my nasal bone, against the vomer, that unpaired bone in my skull that runs along the sagittal plane, that splits one side of my face from the other, one side of my self from the other, that splits me as she splits me as her knuckles land.
She celebrates for a moment, a millisecond, any time is too long. I twitch my left shoulder and she forgets I’m a liar, too.
Becca Borawski Jenkins is a writer and editor. She holds an MFA in Cinema-Television Production from USC. She and her husband live off-grid on a homestead they are building by hand somewhere in the Idaho Panhandle. She has stories appearing or forthcoming in concis, The Forge, The Knicknackery, and bosque.