Just me. Just him. Four corners. Three sets of ropes.
With every overdramatic stomp of my foot, I can feel the energy from the crowd, but at the same time, they are constantly pushed back. I feel them, but they disappear.
In this moment, it is just a geeky girl who learned to fight for everything she’s ever had, standing across from the All-American boy holding a championship belt that he never had to fight for.
Boom. Get up.
Boom. I said get up.
Boom. You son of a -
I shuffle my feet, aiming right at his chin for a massive superkick.
But Dante isn’t stupid. He knows how to play the crowd, squeeze every last bit of drama out of things. He’s a storyteller.
We both are.
Just when it looks like I might hit my finisher and get the big win for every high school loser who’s had it rough, Dante Blair gets to his feet, rushes in, and spears me in half. I’d been tackled before. Many times. But this one had a whole lot of extra mustard on it. If my adrenaline weren’t in overdrive, I might actually feel a rib shoot from its assigned seat to the front of the class in my throat.
No matter what’s pumping in me, a much stronger force brings me hard onto the ring canvas. There I lay, eagle-spread and trying to catch what little breaths I can muster. In these painful moments, you become aware of everything around you just to either remind yourself you’re still alive or just distract yourself from what you’re supposed to be feeling.
My tights have a wedgie. This new sportsbra isn’t holding my girls as well as it should. El Tiburon and Thessaly are on the right side of the gym, roaring for me to get up.
Stop wasting your breaths and gimmie the literal air from your lungs, dude, damn.
And that’s with my eyes closed.
My brain reminds me this isn’t over. I remember who I am. I remember what I’m fighting for.
But it is hard to remain hopeful when you can feel your momentum with the crowd turn; when you look up to see the most popular kid in the school standing over you, his arms in the air, and his hot girlfriend wearing referee stripes looking down on your corpse, pleased as punch.
One gotta win. One gotta lose. These are the simple rules of fighting. Of competition. Of wrestling. This is how it has to be. To rise, someone else must fall.
Even with all that, the only thing I can think of is what to say to everyone after. Everyone who is depending on me. Everyone who pinned all their hopes, all their dreams, on some chick who kinda happened to be in the right place on the card at the right time.
I know what to say.
It’s the same thing I’ve had to tell myself for years about wanting to kiss Dante Blair’s girlfriend.
It’s what I had to say to myself after she kissed me…twice.
It’s what I will say to you, whoever you are bored enough to read this, if you are cheering for the underdog to get to her feet.
Our hearts don’t make things true.