Sorry for the delay folks. There were some technical difficulties over here but finally they are resolved and the show can go on as planned. Thank you for your patience.
For this week’s unusual prompt, we had three contenders toss their stories into the ring. Deb Felio with her story Regarding Addy, Tim Clark’s story The Boxer, and my own piece (that ran over the word limit a bit but due to time constraints, I will just overlook my violation). Hope you enjoy our story adaptations.
It was like it was yesterday.
“In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out.”*
He could have been somebody, but, he never was. He left all of his hopes and dreams scattered in broken pieces lying in ratty gyms and smoky halls across the lower half of the country. His heart was broken, and failing. His dreams had died, and he would have joined them had it not been for her.
The only thing he had was the girl, she was his life and all he could give was the love he didn’t understand. His daughter, his protected, his protector.
She had a curious touch, a nurturing spirit, and she cared for everything. Including the boxer. He saw the world in her eyes, and her gentleness. He could never understand what it meant, but it was his world.
The only gift he could give her was himself, and it was given freely. And the only thing she could give him was herself and she did. They shared a bond born of extreme poverty and nourished by need.
They lived off the food they could grow, the chickens they shared their shanty house with. She fed the chickens with the insects she caught, and she nourished her father best as she could. Calling on her own magic she would spit in the medicine power she mixed in his water. When you have nothing you try everything.
In the end he lost the fight but he waited battled long enough to teach the girl everything he could. He hoped it would be enough.
*The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel
Addy had been awake since dawn, occupying herself as quietly as possible while her father slept in the other room. She always did her best but her coloring books became boring and there were only so many times she could watch Brutus punch Popeye across the forest before she lost her patience. She was laying on the floor in her torn tee-shirt and cut-off jean shorts, listening to the chickens peck the dirty brown carpet for food that was not there.
The laundry was washed and hung up on the walls where the framed paintings of flowers doubled as a clothesline. She rolled onto her side to watch her hissing cockroach make its way slowly over the carpet. Addy reached out and scooped it back into its jar, turning the ice-pick punctured lid shut. Returning it to its place amongst the jars of crickets and stick bugs on the top shelf of the closet, Addy went into the kitchen to feed the cat. Yesterday’s food was still in the bowl but she did not realize it until she had already opened the can. It had been raining all day yesterday so the cat had probably just been holed up somewhere, waiting it out. Looking out the window, she saw the neighborhood children playing in the mud, laughing. Addy watched them for a moment then realized it was late enough in the morning for her to wake her father.
She went to his room and gently pushed his broad back. His snoring continued. Addy looked at the picture he kept tucked into his vanity mirror: her father, strong, glistening, a boxer ready to fight. Behind her, he stirred, coughing himself awake. He was sweating from his dreams and looked around a little dazed, remembering his reality.
Addy, get me some magic water.
She ran to the kitchen where the dirty dishes from days and weeks before surrounded the sink. She ripped open the powered solution and poured it into the glass before filling it with tap water. Then she lovingly spat into the mixture before stirring, carrying it carefully back to him so as not to spill it.
She was watching the children again when her father called her to the backyard. There, curled up into a ball, was the cat. Its fur was spiky wet and at first Addy wondered why it had just laid there, sleeping out in the rain. Her father had a plastic garbage bag in his hand and was just about to pick the cat up when Addy figured out what was going on. The tears rose up in her eyes before she could stop them. Her father must have felt her weakness and turned to her.
No, we are not going to do that, he said.
Addy nodded, wanting to be stoic.
Good, now show me your strong face.
It was too much.
Addy shouted no then ran into the house, leaving her father to bag the cat on his own. As he dropped it into the garbage can, he noticed the three children digging in the mud, smiling and sharing makeshift shovels.
He walked inside and was immediately attacked by his daughter, who wore his gloves as if they were hers.
That’s it, he said, delighted she was dealing with her grief like a fighter, bring it. Who’s the man?
I’m the man! Addy punched him hard in the chest.
The pain was immediate. His lungs constricted and he fell back into the armchair.
Addy, go get me some magic water.
She was quicker this time but he still managed to pop two of his heart pills into his mouth before she returned. He did not want her to know that it took more than her spit and seltzer water to keep him alive.
He drank it quickly and felt his pulse return to normal, his lungs fill with air once again. Addy stood before him, eyes wide and glistening with tears.
She looked so much like her mother. It had been over a year already. He let the tears roll down his cheeks as he pulled his daughter close.
Later, when Addy went to join the children, she turned for a moment and looked back at him, uncertain. He just nodded and thought, go on. Go on, my girl.