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Settling

Settling

“Whoever has the better grip wins.”

The instructor relates it over and over again, like a mantra. I dive into his collar and jam a heat-seeking thumb up under the thick fabric. I wrench four fingers around the other side as hard as I can. I am breathing and spitting out torque like a dying steam shovel. I twist and drive my hips into his. The impact is a bowling ball on pavement. He lets out an oof, and I smile as I wrap my arm around his sweaty, prickly head, pulling him over my shoulder. He goes flat. I jump up and back away. I swear to God my sweat smells like flowers and I could fart a symphony. I am so high on this that my pupils are dilating.

But I help him up. I relish the feeling of yanking him off the ground, letting my inertia be his elevator. We look each other in the eyes, shake hands hard and back apart. Sitting through the bouts that others have is like slowly going stiff. Gradually becoming wooden. Time is the enemy. My limbs get heavier and heavier. Anyone could knock me down. A child could pull of a double-leg takedown. Stillness is the enemy. Letting my muscles settle down, I feel as though they might atrophy in minutes.

Like rising from the ashes of a dream, I’m in the circle again. I lunge. I swipe for his wrists. He dodges in slow motion—he’s sculpting his attacks and letting his defenses germinate. This one is dangerous, and I have to redouble my efforts. Go for the throat. I am a vice on his collar. A tourniquet on his elbow. A ghost echoing his footsteps and a cold dagger pressing ever closer to his chest. The name of the game is pressure. Continental plates sliding against one another. Slip-strike wrestling, our feet digging furrows and growing roots. We are epic. He shifts and I counter. I slide and he reverses. Our feet drum out a tattoo, circling in the shape of yin and yang.

His knee finds the mat. His shoulder finds my hips and I am skyward for less than a second. We shift and begin grappling. Suddenly, we're two claws pushing against one another. For all the world like lovers, the throws of our passion slower and more methodical. And with enough pressure to crack the concrete supports of a house.

His elbow skewers my thigh, driving home until the pain is too much to bear. Again, he is systematic. The clock’s hands cross over one another, their steady pass as inevitable as God’s own scissors. I feel the gravity of the moment. I feel the stiffness.

His hand lifts up from my chest to wrap around my knee, and there, in the shadow of his palm has sprung up a minuscule village. A half-dozen thatched cottages and a stone well drilled deep into my sternum. The townsfolk grow fat on my marrow as I throw my arm over his back. He climbs over my thigh, driving his knee inches deep and the city is destroyed as soon as it was born. He’s a mountain range driving down on me and I have no choice but to let him slide around my leg. He drives my back into the mat, ribcages grinding against one another. The weight of us is enough to make craters. I struggle, but cannot slip away. He tries to slip a hand around my neck, but we are statues.

Everything is calcifying.

In a rush of movement, he pulls away, lets go and tries to slide around. He rises up, clearing the skyscrapers on my chest, the subways in my bones and the superhighway that is pinning me to the floor. He grabs my leg. A monument of stone bubbles up from my kneecap, driving me down further. As he spreads himself out, supporting his weight on my forehead, forests grow over me, turning swampy in my sweat. His rigid grip on my collar turns into a devious choke, and my death throes are stifled by the county-wide festivals that spread across my body.

His grip is perfect. I would tap out, but everything about me is settled. Defeat is inescapable.

kelson.philo's picture

that's probably the most

that's probably the most lyrical fight scene i've ever read. it has weight. about the farts and what not, they could work if we had more background information on the character. if he/she is a rough around the edges type, then his lil' colorful phrase might be perfectly appropriate. As it stands, we don't know that and it does come off a little disjointed on it's own. it gets the character's sublime satisfaction with himself across, though.

will he have a moment when, piled under all the gravity his new opponent is bearing down on him with, that he has an opposite feeling of himself? his shight no longer smells like flowers now...

I'm with birdseatbugs about

I'm with birdseatbugs about throes/throws (great pun) and 'fart a symphony' (doesn't quite seem to fit).

But I also agree this is 'immersive,' and I wish more fight scenes went into such detail.

The piece didn't have me on every metaphor (the village-cottages-well one kind of escapes me), but most of them worked, including some I had to think about, but then really started to make sense (like theose in the paragraph, "In a rush of movement...").

Any chance of you taking this approach to a longer piece, where a fight scene like this had a larger context, and the fight itself helped to tell the story?

This is a lovely, immersive

This is a lovely, immersive piece... Except for one jarring note toward the beginning. That would be this:

"I swear to God my sweat smells like flowers and I could fart a symphony."

I was with you right up to that line, whereupon I tripped and fell right out of the story. Fart a symphony? The hell? Upon rereading, I get the idea behind the line, but it just doesn't work for me.

You did make up for that line later, though, with the line "For all the world like lovers, the throws of our passion slower and more methodical." which made me giggle like a demented schoolgirl. Whether the pun was intentional or not, I don't know, but I don't care, either. (If it -was- unintentional, the word you probably wanted was 'throes'; if you _meant_ 'throws', never mind.)