by Heather Maieli

strongThat son of a bitch!

She caught the punching bag as it swung back at her after her last punch, her fingers digging into the red leather. Its chain gave an almost protesting wail as if threatening to break free from the ceiling. She had been going at this for what felt like hours now, having locked herself in the gym with no intention of leaving it anytime soon. Her bangs were matted down with sweat, and after wiping quickly at her brow, her hand dropped back down to her side; her eyes now falling on her bruised and bleeding knuckles. She sighed. She had forgotten to put on her gloves again. Or maybe she had been too distracted to even care. They rested uselessly against her duffle bag on the floor.

The pain wasn’t that unbearable. In fact, it was down to a low sting each time her knuckles met the bag. Just a small reminder of the pain she had been feeling inside, the reason why she had locked herself up in this room to begin with. She started up again, bouncing on the balls of her feet as she continued her heavy assault on the bag. A jab here…a hook there…Soon she had a pretty good rhythm going, having blocked everything else out until there was nothing but the sound of her flesh hitting the leather.

The punches started coming faster, harder…There was blood on the bag which caused her punches to slide just a bit. But, still, she pushed on. She was afraid to stop, afraid to death that if she stopped now she would break down and crash. And she just couldn’t have that. She needed to be strong. Not just for herself, but she needed to put on a brave face for everyone else. Had to keep up appearances. Had to pretend like nothing was wrong when, inside, she was screaming.

Her breathing was heavy now, her heart hammering away in her chest as if threatening to burst. The loud roar of her blood pounding in her veins blocked out all other sounds. She just continued to hit the bag, as if with each hit she could somehow push all her pain, her grief, and her guilt into it. As if she could somehow hurt it. As if her continued assault would make everything go away. Make everything just stop.

And it did. Finally, with a loud, frustrated cry, she hit the punching bag hard one last time. There was a low groaning noise, followed by a snap and the large leather bag fell. Its loud thud echoed throughout the room as it rolled along the floor until it stopped at her feet.

As she went to kick the bag, after hours of standing, her body so tense, her legs finally gave out. She reached out to catch herself before her face could meet the floor and her palms slammed down hard against its coolness. Another cry escaped her lips quickly turning into a soft whimper as pain shot up both arms. It brought her back to reality, and she stayed there on all fours, just staring at the ground as her breathing slowed back down to what would be considered normal. She could feel the sweat building up on her face, pooling down her cheeks, forming a bead as it dropped from the tip of her nose. Her vison blurred slightly as she tried to focus on it. The combined scent of blood and sweat was finally starting to get to her…She needed to get out of this room…

Her feet felt like rubber as she dragged herself down the hallway, one hand sliding along against the wall. As she worked at pulling tank top over her head, the skin her finger-tips grazed almost felt like it was being touched by sandpaper. Her bra quickly following dropping into the pile of clothes and she stood there in the doorway of the master bathroom for a moment in silence.

Just move…

Slowly stepping inside, she couldn’t even bring herself to glance at her reflection in the mirror as she leaned over into the shower, turning the hot water on full blast. Wincing again softly, she pushed her sweats down, stepping out of them and kicking them to the side. She freed her hair from its pony tail and, as she stepped under the running stream, she closed the glass door to the shower behind her.

As the water slowly started to sooth her aching muscles, she closed her eyes, visibly wincing softly as memories started flooding throughout her mind. She gave her head a shake as if trying to fight them off before running both hands through her hair as the water continued to rain down on her. She tried to focus on something else, anything, so when her eyes snapped open she zeroed in on the water dripping down from her hair and body. It pooled around her feet, slowly sliding towards the drain. The water had a pink tinge to it as it washed away all the blood from her broken, damaged hands. Her body still shook, all the built-up adrenaline slowly twisting into an ugly, bitter rage building up beneath the pain. The punching bag had just been a temporary distraction. And suddenly, she stopped caring about being strong…

The scream that escaped her lips didn’t even sound human. Gasping out loudly, her chest shook and with a loud, heartbreaking cry, she slammed her palms against the tiles in the shower. Hard. Little ceramic shards fell about her feet as she continued to cry and scream, not caring if anyone heard her in all her grief, not caring at all…She just continued to beat at the walls until there was nothing left to beat, her fists now turning the durock found underneath to powder.

Fresh tears fell from her stinging eyes as she slowly sank to the floor, a tiny whimper escaping her lips followed by sobs. She drew her knees up to her chest and cried. The shower continued to beat down on her, the water mixing with her tears and the blood from her freshly cut hands as it slid down her arms and legs. But she didn’t care…

She just needed this cry.


Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student