LISTENING RECOMMENDATION: Curious Quail - Rallying Cry

At first I just stare at him. Not that I'm in shock, or that I'm having second thoughts, it's just that I don't really know how to proceed. He's not staring. He's whipping his head around and trying to let everyone know how much of a badass he is. Trying to get the small circle of people who have gathered around us in this parking lot on his side. 

Behind me, I hear Melissa's voice, but it's distant and vague. I can't quite make out what she's saying from the pounding heartbeat in my ears and the sheer volume of the man in front of me. Later on she'll tell me she wasn't trying to talk me out of it, but that it looks like he favors his right leg. It doesn't matter. This guy's probably 50 pounds heavier than me. I'm proving a point.

It's time. As we walk forward to meet each other in the middle of circle I'm grateful Melissa had the foresight to hook my back bra straps together. I don't need any distractions. There will be no clever lines. No Hollywood movie bullshit. Just him and me and hopefully with all bones unbroken and teeth in place. 

God it happens so fast. The first swing, wild and full of rage. So much anger and irrational hate. My adrenaline is surging as I dodge. It's a clumsy dodge by all accounts, but I'm still standing. He swings again and I dodge again, a little faster this time. He has a rhythm and I'm slowly learning it.

He's winded now. Getting a little slower with each passing second. I've found my opening. He swings again, putting all his misplaced emotion into it. The crowd cheers.

I evade. I counterattack. I connect. 

The crowd freezes. Time appears to stand still as everyone processes what just happened. Then time snaps back to normal and he's on me. Impossibly fast, full of rage and perhaps even shame. I can only fall to the ground, my hands covering my head, trying to keep damage to a minimum. My arms, my head, my back, my stomach. No part of me is safe, however much I try to block his assault. 

"Had enough Faggot?"

He speaks directly to me for the first time since inside the bar. His speech is still slurred, but all this physical activity has sobered him up somewhat. I steal a quick glance at him standing above me. He's just now holding his face where I landed my punch. Even in as much pain as I'm in I feel a smile creep onto my face. I don't respond. 

"Hey I'm talking to you B-!"

I don't let him finish. It's my turn to be impossibly fast. In one move I stand up and connect with his chin, putting my entire 130 pounds behind the blow. That's it. All I have.

It's enough. 

I stand up, my heart pounding. I wince as I walk back toward Melissa. The adrenaline is wearing off. She catches me and draws me to the car at the end of the parking lot. I don't even look behind me. I'm sure by now he's gotten up. I don't hear him yelling anymore. I don't hear footsteps behind us. I get in the passenger seat and close my eyes. I ache all over.

"Shit Rachel, that was incredible. How do you feel?"

I let out a groan.

"Damn. What are we gonna tell everyone tomorrow?"

"I'll tell them the truth."

She looks at me worried. I turn to her, raise my bruised fist, and smile. 

"I was proving a point."