In the clearing stands a boxer…

 

Elbows on the ropes, heart hammering, body hard as rock. He knows they’re out there, waiting, watching, hoping. Pushing off, he springs one more time, weaves and ducks. It’s what he does. A jab, a dive, a dance of wills and everything changes. No more doubt, no more listening to oblivion’s siren call. This is his moment.

Cheering, roars, they yell, demand, jeer and then they ask for more. And he gives it, on autopilot now. Fists a blur, one command screaming in his head. Win, win, win.

He watches through a haze of sweat, remote now as worlds turn and scales tilt, like it’s some movie and he’s somehow become the star. A crowd, melded into a single swaying mass, roars with one voice. He staggers. Someone hoists up his arm, holds it high in triumph, while at his feet a fallen giant flails on bloodstained canvas. The Boxer looks away, unable to witness his shame. Turns to the crowd and soaks up the din.

The acrid stench of defeat mingles with the heady perfume of victory. He did what he had to do. He always does. Because out there, they’re waiting and watching and hoping and he’ll never let them down. Not while he can still raise a fist or suck in a rasping breath. His smile’s a grimace, half pain, half secret knowing. That baying crowd have it so wrong. The fight isn’t out there in the gore and the crack of fist on flesh. It’s in his head. And as long as he believes, he’ll prevail.

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