Your girlfriend asked you once if you’d help her out with her training over the park one evening, because her usual training partner was away somewhere, or ill or injured, maybe, you can’t really remember.
Anyway she asked you if you’d help her train – it wouldn’t involve much, she stressed, just standing around mostly – and you’d said yes, and you went to the park and she did her drills for the best part of an hour, which involved sprinting away from you to the fence and back, and then her punching away at your raised hands for a minute or so, you holding them up unsteadily, your hands absurdly huge in the sparring gloves she’d given you to wear, this short routine repeated, turn, sprint, turn, sprint, punch, punch, punch, until she could barely stand and your hands were numb from the contact.
As she got her breath back at the end, towelled her face, gulped down her water, you took the gloves off and threw them down with her gear and said, “Man, christ, my wrists really ache now,” and she said, “Your wrists ache? You just stood there,” and you laughed and said, “Yeah, I know,” and laughed again and she laughed too. And then while she was getting changed, sitting down, leant up against a tree, she looked over to where you were standing and said, “You didn’t have to come if you didn’t want to, you know,” and you said, no, you wanted to, it was good, you enjoyed yourself, it was fun, it was a lovely evening.
And it was great and you did enjoy it, but she didn’t ask you to come next week when she went and she never asked you again and a few months later you weren’t even together anymore and these days to be honest you’re surprised you ever were.
But you find yourself thinking about it sometimes, remembering that night over the park, the hazy summer dusklight, your bags of clothes by the trunk of the tree, the cars passing by on the road just behind the fence, windows down, music strobing as they passed.
And her face in front of yours, the intensity of her stare, the joy and the pain as she pushed herself harder and harder, the rage of her fists against your padded palms, the thud of glove on glove, the jolt of every blow in your wrists, in your shoulders, trying to hold yourself there, trying to stand firm.
She turns, sprints away. Turns, sprints back.
1. Written in January 23rd, 2016
2. This was going to be published in a book this year, but in the end it wasn’t published in a book this year
3. So here it is instead