I was late for practice. Several minutes late. When I arrived In the gymnasium I was greeted with a scowl from Maro and several questioning eyes. But much to my pleasure, I wasn't called out and instead Maro continued talking. She then moved one leg in front of the other, shoulder width apart and called on one of the girls closer to her, Eliza, to come up and she practiced punches. She then, paired us up with our fighting partners and had us hold hands up for each other to punch. Each punch stung and burned my skin but I grimaced a forced myself not to show pain.
Out of the corner of my eyes I saw a few of the Kings come in and hang around in the corner. And then Eliza held up her hands and I practiced punching, my legs shoulder length apart. Fingers formed in a fist. Then Maro called us back and taught us about kicking. If your going to kick someones face make sure to be stable before hand, and kick, and to only sometimes point your feet. She the had us re-form with our partners and kick each other. After a while of those, she called us back once more and taught us how to counter attack a kick to the face. Grab foot, throw over shoulder, turn to another side, kick or punch back.
I turned to Eliza and tried to kick her, she caught my foot and threw it to the right where she then tried to kick me. I heard the Kings laugh and I looked over and glared, and was surprised that none of them were Bo. A little bit of disappointment sunk in her heart but she looked away and tried to catch Eliza's feet. Then once more, Maro made us fight each other on mats, who ever won out of six, won. I looked at Eliza and rubbed the back of my hand over my forehead, rubbing the sweat before it ran into my eyes. My body felt alive and my mind felt sharp but my thighs hurt more and more as the day went on.
I would kick and then she would counter attack and I would fall on my back. But each time I fell, I made sure to get up and try harder each time though everything in my mind told me to just stay down. Eliza kept doing things that I couldn't comprehend and then after I slightly understood them, I was on the ground. And she seemed to barely be out of breath and fighting me with moves that I hadn't seen.
"How are you so good at this?" I asked her, after we had out third fight, a ten minute one this time and she was pulling me off the ground.
"I'm a good fighter." She said, sadly smiling. After our sixth round, we waited, arms behind our backs for Maro to come and tell us we could go.
"Who won?" She asked.
"I did. 4 to 2" Eliza said, Maro marked it down on a piece of paper and then excused us. My stomach rumbled. Practices seemed so long and yet so short and when we were in the hall I looked for the grandfather clock I'd thought I'd seen as we were making our way here last time. Eliza pushed open the bustling kitchen doors and a delicious odor hit my nose and I signed contentedly. Eliza, tugged at my arm, keeping me from melting into the walls from the heavenly smell. We waited in the dining room a full hour, talking about the competition and the fighting and how brutal it was and how achey our muscles were when four other girls came in and joined in.
"Who do you think is going to win." Eliza asked, eyes narrowed on me, though her question was diverted to the other girls.
"Who knows." The girl-Florence said, "Liv probably is one of them" I blinked.
"Everyone knows your going to win."
"Really?" I said, disbelievingly.
"You are with the Kings constantly and they like you. You don't have to vie for attention or anything. They just...gravitate towards you. And..." Another girl cut her off.
"It's just easy to tell." She said, gripping Florence's arm to stop her. Before I could respond, or even think of a response since my mind was suddenly fuzzy. The conversation for the next 20 minutes was quiet small talk, until the last two girls came in with 3 of the kings. Jasper, Griffin, Izaiah and Soren. They smiled at everyone, and sat down, trying to spread themselves out. A few minutes later, dinner came, steaming and I gobbled it down, the food warmed my mouth which I didn't realize was cold until it settled making me feel warm. I ate it quickly and ignored how I wasn't being spoken to. Usually it was Bo and Finn... Both hadn't come to dinner. And it slightly annoyed me but I knew it was probably really hard for Finn. Harder for him then it should've been for me.
As soon as I'd finished, King Silas had entered the room, throwing open both doors with his hands so they banged on the walls. I dropped my fork at his bold entrance, then scrambled to pick it up and one of the twins- Soren, leaned towards me. I thought that he was going to make fun of me, judging by the smirk on his face, but instead all he said was:
"I'm sorry." And he actually looked like he'd mean't it, then he went back to his conversation. Dinner ended shortly after that, and once more the feeling of uselessness set in to me. I didn't know where I was going so I distantly followed a group of girls, quietly and ghost-like.
We reached the hallway and I walked down, my shoulder scraping against the right wall, as I walked all the way down to my room. I opened the door and walked into the room that still didn't feel like mine and I closed the door behind me. Squeezing my eyes shut I leaned against it. Not moving for a moment, before I stripped off my shirt and walked to the bathroom and drew the tub.
I ran my fingers around the warm water as it pooled up. With my other hand I pried off my sweaty and disgusting smelling shoe off, releasing my feet from their prison and I pulled off my black socks. The water filled to a reasonable level and I reached across the spotless white tub and turned the knobs. I then stripped of my pants and finally, my under layers. I sighed and got in the tub, one foot at a time.
The warm water was relaxing. It warmed everything and helped my aching muscles relax. I closed my eyes and felt the steam rise up. I dunked my head under, my knees sliding up and the air cooled them. Suddenly making me appreciate the water even more. My head rose slightly so my nose was above the water line and I blew some air out of my mouth, enjoying the feel of the bubble on my nose.
I swished around the water with my toes and leaned my head against the back of the tub. I hummed vaguely familiar songs that I could't name and thought about the events that took place this afternoon.
When the water felt like ice, I drained it. I stood up, shivering and stepped out, wrapping a towel around me. I stood in front of the mirror and braided my hair, taking a hair tie a mysterious small box of them next to the soap. I squeezed on the braid and let the extra water fall free and walked out of the bathroom. I went to the dresser and pulled on a loose magenta shirt with flowery designs on it and some dull grey sweatpants. I sat on the bed and sank into its plushness. I rolled onto my back and sprawled out in the middle. I sat up and opened the bedside table. Inside were two books. One I had never heard of before, the other, was a welcome sight.
THE REVOLUTIONARY'S MISTRESS was the unfamiliar. My favorite book of all was TIME AND DARKNESS: A FLEETING AND LIGHT STORY by Elka Whitt. It was a book about life and space and thinking and all through an adolescent head. It was a romance story and a war story. I loved it and nearly melted at the sight of it. It was one of my favorites. I read for a while before I turned off the lights and fell asleep quickly.