Image: Raging Bull
Another round. My last.
I raise myself wearily from my stool. Fists tattoo my battered face, cuts and bruises telling the tale that my swollen lips can no longer form.
Blows to the body fold my crumpling frame, my remaining vestiges of strength draining away through weakened limbs. Somehow the punishment is withstood, defiance summoned from somewhere deep within, legs refusing to yield to the pull of the canvas’s embrace.
Pressure builds within my skull and my temples pound their rhythmical beat, each pulse marking another second endured in the vice-like grip of despair.
Weakened limbs scream their protest despite the withered mind’s diminished demands: unstable legs barely able to carry their damaged host; arms, long since blunted as tools of punishment, suddenly turn tormentor in their inability to afford protection from the incoming fusillade of fists.
Blood trickles from the corner of my eye, sliced by the scything fury of an unforgiving aggressor; the crimson wound a gaping souvenir of my brutal reality, leaked blood traces a vivid reminder of the life that still courses through my veins, offering the slightest hope of another round, another battle, another day.
A moment of respite as my fatigued body is enveloped in the arms of my adversary, but the brief comfort only camouflages the coming assault. My arms are pinned to my sides neutralising any offensive intent that may have remained buried within this sorry shell of self.
“You got nothin’ coming man, you got nothin’ coming.”
His words burrow into my brain, seeking and finding familiar company amongst scattered seeds of self-doubt, self-loathing and emotional self-harm.
A crippling blow sinks into the kidney and I gasp, the warrior’s mask of indifference to pain cracked by the grimace that can no longer hide the anguish that contorts my insides.
The delayed signal limps along my frayed nerve endings before flushing through my legs causing my knees to buckle at their calling. Sinking to the mat my lungs are squeezed into paralysis as the last of my breath is disdainfully dispatched, leaving a void that my shallow wheeze cannot fill.
Numbers float across my hazy consciousness…
…4, 5, 6…
“Stay down you son of a bitch you’re through; done.”
Taunted by my invisible adversary a spark is kindled deep within my spirit; the will to endure, the imperative to survive.
Slowly, steadily, defiantly I rise.
Staring into the black eyes of defeat my gaze holds firm. Intent.
I will fight.
Until the final bell tolls, I will fight.