Nose dripping, eyes watering, salty blood pours from my mouth, and a spine-tingling throbbing spreads to my head.
*And a right hook.
*I stand there and continue to stand because it doesn’t matter how many times fist meets cheek, chin, right or left eye, stomach, back—I’m a pacifist who doesn’t know how to surrender, and there are only two ways I’ll get out of this: If I get knocked out and spend the rest of my time on the floor; or my opponent stops pounding me, but then I’ll be stuck here, with this guy circling me—this infinite space where no bell will signal the end of this fight as he struts around the ring in a dance with his mouth wide, eyes gleam, teeth shine and circles me waiting for the chance to strike me again as the crowd chants, “Knock her out!” while my hands rest limply at my sides.
*Straightening my back, I raise my chin and try to open my half-closed bloodied eye while I tighten my muscles and wait
—for the next blow to fall.