I had trained three years for this moment. Countless hours in the gym and in the ring had molded me into peak condition.
This fight was far from regular; this was a grudge match. My opponent had taken the title last year. It wasn’t that she was faster, more agile, stronger, better trained—no, nothing fair. But you take away a fighter’s sight and it’s no contest.
No points for guessing who won that match.
Stinging powder, my coach had called it. I didn’t see her do it, but there was no other explanation. I had taken many face shots in my 12 years of kickboxing, too many to count, and none had ever affected me like that. Two taps to the face and my eyes were watering and on fire, blurring my vision to shit. My retinas burned, swelling my eyelids and forcing me to close them. I didn’t see the rest of the fight, obviously.
Now was the time for redemption. Deliverance. Revenge.
She bounced in her corner, a smug smile aimed at me. She bobbed her shoulders, throwing a few practice kicks out.
I bit my mouthpiece hard, feeling my teeth compress the plastic.
The bell rang. In a second, we were on autopilot—a foot whistled by my ear and I dodged, pulling left.
A leg sweep to her ankle had her flat on the ground.
I dove on top and her glove met my eyes. The stinging started immediately. No room for error; I had to act now before my sight went. I’d expected this.
It still stung like hell, though; I let her back up, my glove sweeping at my face and futilely trying to get the burning to stop.
I had one chance.
I kicked right. She blocked. I faked left. She followed.
The crowd’s screaming faded into the background; I could hear them, distantly, as the girl’s smug expression started to cloud as my eyes swelled. I had to do it now.
I jumped into the air, snapping my ankle forward with force into her neck and jaw. I felt the momentum push her back—under my foot, I felt her bones splinter, and the next instant she was on the ground. I swore I heard them crack.
The ref stopped the fight.
Revenge doesn’t feel like it should when it’s not earned, but to hell with it. My coach hurried me back to the locker room without a glance back, but I had seen her already. She wasn’t coming back for another rematch.
As my coach left the room, he tossed my socks and ankle wraps into the trash can. Metal sheets clanged on the bottom.