I know father was going to get upset. But I believe that this something I need to do by myself. I am not making any progress at home. I don’t like lying, not to him. but a white lie shouldn’t be so bad, especially if it was done to help things along. Getting off my motorcycle I take my helmet off and swing my duffel bag over my shoulder entering the gym. Upon entry I remember to walk in with my head held high. First step to getting over this fear, be confident.

Everyone’s eyes on me and I make my way to the lockers, I know what they are thinking. Surprise to see me return after six months. I am surprised too, but they are all my friends or at least that is what I believe. Opening a locker I stuff my things inside change and go back out. The small whispers stop as soon as i enter. Matt being the first one to break the silence. “Long time no?” he questions awkwardly coming closer to embrace me. “Not keeping me away forever” I reply trying to be as light-hearted as possible, “Spar, for old times sake” I ask.

He seems hesitant but nods and pulls me in a ring. The eyes are all on me, but I ignore the judgement that I know will proceed after this match.

“Don’t hold back” I tell him, again he seems concerns reading me but also aware of the tensions. “When do I?” he says trying to be as light-hearted about everything too. The match starts and he circles around me. Once he sees an opening he goes and I block him, my body reacting faster, faster than they have with my father. I block him twice and get one small jab in. I feel the adrenaline coursing and i try to remember the joy this once gave me. I try to fight the fear the creeps up on me. He goes again and he strikes. This time it does hit me, twice more after that and I fall.

He stops pulling his hand away, unsure if he should continue. Handing his arm out to help me up, I slap it away. There was a slight improvement just now, maybe this was the best choice even if I get beaten down, even if my reputation is ruined. It’s already damaged, might as well throw it away and start over again. Getting up, with shallow breathing I make eye contact with him only to see his worry. So I smiles encouraging him to go again. Matt wasn’t the strongest boxer there. He was actually just okay, he needed work.

Which is why it was a surprise he could bring me down to my knees. But I know that he would be the best person to spar with. He wouldn’t judge me, he wouldn’t hold back. He just wanted to get better and stronger, and right now that is what I need, so he would understand.

Bringing my hands up in a come motion, I taunt him to fight another round. Taking the bait he circles around the ring with me, waiting to see when to attack. Father wouldn’t hit me, if he knew I couldn’t block it. Pin me down, yell, pull, push, yeah sure. But he never raised his fist at me. Even when we were spar. Matt on the other hand didn’t hold back, no one in the gym would. This is where I needed to be. This is where I can begin to recover.