Marston LeBeau braced himself against an incoming wave and thought what an idiot he was for having stormed into the Atlantic Ocean fully dressed. It would have been more therapeutic just to break something. But in the middle of his tirade, as he stomped around bellowing like some comic book super villain, the suggestion had come to him, it seemed, out of nowhere. Do something unexpected. Or maybe Dr. Lovely had hypnotized him, programmed him with some kind of mind trick. How else to gain his compliance? Surely she knew what he thought of all the psychobabble. The whole unexpected thing had come up during their discussion about intolerable situations and how to deal with them. He almost bought it until she started up with all the nonsense about radical action–a willingness to shatter old behavior patterns by hurling oneself into the creative. He could only think to hurl himself into the ocean.
A robust breeze rifled through his hair and agitated his coattails. The surf boiled around his thighs. Beyond the breakers, the swells rose and fell with slothful indifference, while a freighter perched motionless on the horizon. All at once, a catamaran bucked by less than a hundred yards from where he stood. The young couple did a double take at him. He waved. Do the unexpected. They just stared.
He drew a shivery breath and twisted around. Across the expanse of yard, the women stood on the porch of the Victorian, one brunette toasting her martini at him. He turned back, his face hot. A "girl-grown-up" party! For Annie. For God’s sake, she was only sixteen years old! That was plenty intolerable enough. He had come home to a gaggle of supposedly educated women mingling in his living room, sipping cocktails while hooting and hollering at the gyrations of a male stripper. (Go Ramon! Go baby, go!) But that had merely puzzled him; his wife took great pride in being an iconoclast–the cosmopolitan type whose taste in entertainment often veered toward that of a drug-addicted hooker. The match to the powder keg was seeing his daughter standing there, grooving to the music with a beer in her hand–that plus the banner festooned across the living room that surely meant to celebrate the end of her innocence. No self-respecting father would put up with that kind of bullshit. Setting sail fully dressed seemed reasonably sane compared to throwing Ramon through a window. His noisy threat to do so had not endeared him to any of the party goers.
Surely Annie was embarrassed out of her wits. Then again, the jungle music she listened to–what was there left to blush at? Hip-hop. Gangsta. He bristled, the generational gap widening into a chasm belching malice and accusation. Rappers. Nothing but low-lifes. Criminals. He’d seen the videos–the bling, the booty-shaking sluts. Then all at once, the thought vaporized before a hot possibility: Had she? Was his little girl no longer a little girl? A gull slid down the breeze and hovered in front of him as though to say, Duh! The freighter was smaller now, and he wished he were on it. The wind groaned. The waves crashed in front of him. Water lapped his thighs like an ingratiating retriever. It was all too much. Do the unexpected. The doctor’s youthful enthusiasm made his jaw clench. He had no idea what was unexpected now. He was already standing in the ocean, his shoes probably ruined. And what made Dr. Lovely the expert anyway? She was practically a brand new PhD. And the name–surely it had been tampered with. He couldn’t think. The gull suddenly pulled out of its holding pattern and disappeared over his head.
He turned around and lumbered toward shore. One of his loafers bogged in the sand and came off. He hesitated, then slogged on, out of the water and across the yard, limping towards the porch and a hushed crowd of cocktail-wielding smartasses.
Arielle stood in the yard, frowning. He glared as he passed her–her mouth open to speak–and trudged up the steps. As though happy to be relieved of the burden of his strange behavior, the women erupted into cheers and applause.
"Bravo!" The martini drinker, smirking, winked at him.
He gave her a look and strode into the house, closing the door behind him. He stood still for a moment, grinding his teeth at the butt-humping bass of a rap tune pulsating from upstairs. Puddles formed around his feet. Arielle had just had the pine floors refinished and would surely squawk if he tracked salt water across them. On the far wall, a side table was strewn with liquor bottles. He marched over, poured three fingers of Scotch, and threw it back. He savored the smoky burn, imagined a small Scottish town full of tweed and tam o’shanters. Bonnie lasses strolling the streets, their unsullied forms unfathomable under billowing petticoats. He shook his head. There was a lot to be said for tradition.
The bass punched him back to reality. The provocative drape of the three-foot-tall banner spanning the room reminded him of a floozy’s decolletage. WELCOME TO WOMANHOOD. His wife, the artist, had done it quite professionally in a hot pink and purple script, the "OO" bubbling over the top of a black lace-lined bustier. Laughter and conversation boiled from the porch. He poured another drink and closed his eyes, searching for context. Was he just an old fogey, behind the times? Wouldn’t he think so if he were young? He himself had been only seventeen the first time. Just thinking of it made him cringe; it was surely the gold standard of awkwardness. The girl had been unmercifully coy, the seduction torturous. Finally, driven nearly senseless by his aching need, he plied her with an offer of backstage tickets to an Aerosmith concert. He’d thought the fabrication clever at the time. Who would’ve guessed what ends a horny teenaged boy would go to?
He froze, then spun around and hobbled urgently toward the stairs, kicking off his remaining shoe as he went. He tromped up, pulled along by the music, his climb grudgingly synchronized to the beat.
He stopped at his daughter’s door, raised his hand to knock, then paused. He had never even imagined talking to her about sex. That was her mother’s job. But she’d already kicked in her two cents’ worth. He breathed deeply, rapped twice and shouldered through the door.
Annie lay propped against the headboard of her bed, talking on her cell phone. The music slid up into his face, the lyrics a machine gun litany of once-unmentionable epithets and sex acts. He scowled like a gargoyle from the foot of her bed. She finished a sentence, then offered him an open-handed shrug, a mouthed, "What?"
He had no idea, just concern. But that was never enough. People were concerned about global warming, taxes, nuclear war; it only seemed to make things worse. He just stood there, pondering the toe rings, the obscenely tight clothes, the riot of blonde hair, searching for some vestige of his little girl.
"Hold on," she said and pressed the phone against her belly. "Dad! What if I was getting dressed?"
The bass boomed a lazy taunt beneath a monotone voice: ...nigga’ with an AK never gonna go away, fuck what the man say, his bitch want a black man… baby I’m a playa’…

What if she were getting dressed? Welcome to womanhood. He threw back his drink and left, closing the door behind him, then hesitating. No. Talk was overrated anyway. He should do something. The unexpected. He stalked down the hall, into his bedroom, and just stood. Seconds passed. Finally, he retrieved a pair of running shoes from the closet, sat on the bed, and put them on. As he was tying the laces, Arielle appeared, leaning against the doorjamb, circling the rim of her glass with a finger. Slippery chestnut hair slid down over one eye. She pushed it back. He should have painted her all those years ago. Lean and sleek, she stood contrapposto, almost haughtily–a thoroughbred in momentary stasis, granting a passing peek at perfection. Even childbirth had seemed tonic, like oats and exercise to equestrian muscle. The match had always seemed one of the unlikeliest–beauty and the boxer.
"I thought you were having dinner with your dad."
"He backed out."
"The party was supposed to be just girls."
He cinched a knot. "I feel much better."
"It’s not what it looks like. Think of it as kind of like a sweet-sixteen party. Or a quinceanera."
He gave her a hard look.
"Only secular," she said.
He huffed, began tying the other shoe.
"Well, what if you didn’t know–had never found out?"
"Too late for that, isn’t it?" He leapt up.
"Where’re you going?" She sipped her drink.
Where was he going? He didn’t move for several seconds.
"I really wish we could come to some understanding about this," she said.
It was like Dr. Lovely–measured, patient, as though she were in control and would wait eternally for him to stumble into reality, to find the right groove. His temple throbbed.
"I’m going to the bathroom." He marched in and swung the door hard, careful not to let it slam. He, too, could show control.
"Mars, don’t be like this." Her voice was near the door, calm, expectant of eventual capitulation.
Like this? How about this? As he leaned toward the mirror, about to pulverize it, he sneered at his reflection–the suit, the tie. "Like this," he huffed, snatching the tie from his neck. The delicacy of the decor infuriated him–the claw-foot tub, the shiny black tile, the basket of soaps and perfect towels. He lunged at the toilet paper and snatched it. The wooden spool wobbled furiously, spewing paper into the air. He chuckled.
"Mars? What’s that noise? What are you doing?"
The slightest hint of curiosity–concern, maybe–laced her voice. He grinned.
"Mars, dear. Be sensible. Come out and let’s talk."
His smile disappeared. He contemplated the window for a few seconds–studied it as though it were an equation sure to yield a solution–then slid it up and unlatched the screen. Without hesitating, he climbed through it and lowered himself onto the roof. The briny breeze mussed his hair and flipped his lapel. He breathed deeply and savored the ocean, the tight-lipped horizon–felt like a buccaneer manning the prow of a pirate ship. He chuckled and let out a growly arrrggh, then began his descent, not really sure if the drainpipe would bear his weight.
On the ground, he dusted off his hands, got into his car, and drove away with no idea where he was going.
He had forgotten about the title fight altogether and briefly considered the possibility: maybe stumbling onto it by chance was an auspicious sign of some sort. He rolled his eyes. Maybe Dr. Lovely really had messed with his mind.
Unable to think of anything unexpected to do, he’d driven around for forty-five minutes before wandering into Eddie O’Hearn’s during the pre-fight hoopla. He’d paused inside the door, surprised at such a crowd. Eddie had already spotted him and had a perfectly poured beer on the bar, waiting.
"Mars, boy!" was accompanied by the genial summons of Eddie’s massive arm.
Mars wound his way through a crowd that reeked of suntan lotion and hard work.
"You’re just in time," Eddie said.
Mars slid up behind the beer and got the good news. De La Hoya and Hopkins–the middleweight title fight. He took a long draw off the beer and settled in.
Boxing had once been the most gratifying pursuit in his life. At six feet, one hundred eighty-four pounds, he had been an ideal cruiserweight–up-and-coming, powerful enough to open cuts and break bones, fast enough to avoid damage. Until Briggs. In a regional WBC bout, Melvin "Berserker" Briggs landed a left hook that detached Mars’s retina and left him with a world-class concussion. The punch came out of nowhere, was totally unexpected. It wouldn’t have been if not for the distraction. Three months earlier, he’d met Arielle, a winsome art student who had a penchant for painting athletes. She was in the crowd, it was only a quick glance. Not that quick for Melvin. But he’d been hurt before. He had no intention of giving up boxing. Pain and injury were to be expected. Then Arielle’s pleading, her tearful admission that she couldn’t stand the thought of something like that happening to him again. He sure hadn’t expected that. He didn’t think he would miss the ring so much, never realized how the aggression lit up the darkness that crept into him from time to time. But then there was the unexpected pregnancy.
Eight-and-a-half rounds later, Hopkins blasted a tight hook to De La Hoya’s liver and dropped the Golden Boy to his knees. The grimace, the pounding of the canvas–Oscar wasn’t expecting it either. The referee hovered over him, shouting the count.
Eddie flagged his rag at the television. "Looks like the golden boy’s gone to rust."
The remark drew boos and hisses from the small crowd. Eddie playfully appeased them, throwing up his hands and bowing to the television set that presided over the battered oak bar.
"He’s got no business fighting middleweight," Mars said and threw back the rest of his beer. Immediately, an edgy voice shouted something from behind him. He set his mug on the bar. A moment later, the voice–its accent apparent–pushed its way through the commotion a second time: "What you think you know, man?"
He ignored it, not thinking it was meant for him.
"Hey man! I’m talkin’ to you!"
He swiveled around on his stool. Four young men sprawled around a table–the black hair and brown skin of sun-baked climates, the dusty jeans and exhausted boots of manual labor. Most likely Mexicans. The one on the end nearest Mars sat low, his legs outstretched, one sinewy arm hooked over the back of his chair. It was the hand that gestured as if to say, So?
Mars stared for a moment. The man stared back. His cockiness reminded him of Annie, and he stifled an impulse to laugh, to say something about Mexican fighters never knowing when to quit. It dawned on him only gradually that the man looked like the stripper. Ramon. His jocularity went into freefall.
Eddie’s voice blasted past him: "Mind your manners or I’ll throw you lads outta here!"
Mars smirked, then swung back around front and center. Eddie glared past him, the Gaelic merriment of his stare amid the battered planes of his face suggesting psychosis. He once went twelve rounds against Irish champion, Pat Stapleton. Mars slid his mug forward for a refill.
Eddie’s gnarled fist swept it from the bar and returned it full, topped with a perfect head. Mars took a sip and gazed through the plate glass window, past A1A into the darkness of the sea beyond. The rheumy glimmer of ships’ lights were like setting stars among the skyline of liquor bottles on the tiered shelves. Dread crept into him. The ocean at night was a terrifying thing to him. Had it been dark earlier, he would never have gone near it. God only knew what lurked there in the darkness of the depths, what shadowy creatures. What a way to go–sinking into total oblivion. He took a long draw off his beer.
Most of the crowd had left, and Eddie lumbered to the end of the bar and switched the television to CNN. Images of Iraq–soldiers, sand, an erupting howitzer. Fighting. Mars wondered if he was too old to enlist. Wasn’t the Army desperate for men, raising the age limit? If pounding on someone was cathartic, shooting them dead must be like nirvana. He closed his eyes and savored the memory of a perfect punch–the impact, the transfer of energy. But then there was the odd twinge of guilt he’d sometimes felt if he scored a knockout. Despite his competitiveness, sometimes pure rage, there was something about a beaten body–limp, inanimate, or struggling to recover–that always, finally, elicited pity from him. Still, there was a lot to be said for immediate results. Positive results. Job satisfaction. There hadn’t been much since. But Annie’s birth–of course, that was satisfying. But then what? Sixteen years of maybe, maybe not? Maybe she would grow up to be a good kid. Or a farewell virginity party. His lip curled and the door opened. Traffic noise spilled in. He just stared into the darkness, his ire glancing off the passing cars.
"Is the fight over already?" It was a woman’s voice, vaguely familiar.
"Aye, Miss. If you’d call it that."
Shoot. Punch. He took another pull off his beer and savored it. Still, the darkness. Then the feeling someone was watching him.
He turned and was unable to speak around his surprise. Dr. Lovely seemed unfazed, her shoulders slumped, following the extension of her arms to her hands, her purse dangling wearily in front of her. Her short auburn hair cupped her head like rose petals, and her eyes and mouth seemed to be in a contest to see which could make the other laugh first. He groped for an explanation, finally seizing the only logical one.
"Arielle–she called you?"
The therapist frowned.
He caught himself, then stumbled on.
"I mean, what brings you to Eddie’s?"
"De la Hoya, I’d hoped."
He paused, wondering if he’d heard right.
"Well," he said, "he hung in as long as he could."
"My last client went into overtime."
He nodded. "I would’ve never pegged you for a fight fan."
She glanced at his glass. "There’s something to be said for honest aggression."
His viscera warmed and the invitation spilled out before he considered the possible implications.
"Eddie, get this lady a drink," he said, gesturing to the stool next to him.
She hesitated.
Eddie turned from the news and idled toward them.
"Will you have something, Miss?"
A slight tension seemed to snap and she slid onto the stool. "Vodka and ice."
"Eddie, meet Dr. Lovely."
Eddie nodded, smiling, as he reached for a glass.
She shifted, her posture erect, coltish. She ran one hand over the back of her hair, then twiddled with a small gold pendant suspended above the neckline of her blouse.
Mars fiddled with his mug. "I don’t know many girls who’re into boxing."
Eddie dealt her a napkin and set the drink in front of her. She immediately took a sip.
"My older brother," she said. "He fought Golden Gloves."
"No kidding!" Why didn’t he know that? But of course, she was the therapist, he, the patient. And he hadn’t been all that forthcoming about his own past, could never get entirely used to the idea of spilling his guts to a virtual stranger. The therapy had been Arielle’s idea. He’d resisted at first but was finally worn down by the constant suggestion that he "see somebody."
"So does brother still fight?"
"Sort of." She swiveled her glass on the bar. "He started drinking. That put an end to it. To a lot of things." Her expression seemed to deteriorate. "I used to love to watch him though."
He, too, had sparred with overindulgence, but only briefly–a short detour on his trip from fighter to respectable middle-class citizen. It irked him. Why would anyone strive to be the middle of anything? There was a sucker punch he never saw coming.
"That’s too bad," he said.
She angled herself toward him, propped her elbow on the back of her stool.
"Ancient history," she said. "Here’s to the now." She raised her glass to him and took another sip.
He stifled a laugh and did the same. The now. It was too much like hurling himself into the creative. He supposed he should have expected it, then wasn’t sure how willing she was to talk about work outside her office.
"You really buy all that stuff you talk about?"
An hour later, he was sure she did, even though he had no clue as to what existential terror and gestalt had to do with the life of anybody he knew. And who was Binswanger?
She threw back the rest of her drink–her third–and gave him a crooked grin.
"I know–pretty boring stuff."
"Not at all. In fact, just before you walked in I was pondering the terror of my existence."
"So what’d you decide?"
"Drink more, think less."
She rolled her eyes and, with a smile, leaned forward and palmed his knee.
"I know, even my family tells me not to take myself so seriously."
What was he to make of the touch?
All at once, on the other side of her, an empty pitcher slid across the bar. Brown forearms settled in behind it. The Mexican stood hunched over, his inky hair like a black cap on a bottle of insolence.
"Hey barkeep. Fill it up."
Eddie snagged the pitcher and pulled the tap on it.
The Mexican cocked his head, savored the woman’s back.
"How you doing, chica?"
She glanced over her shoulder.
"I’m good," she said, then smiled at Mars, distracting him from the Mexican’s ogling.
Eddie returned the full pitcher.
"I bet," the man said, lifting the pitcher and shoving off.
Something spoken in Spanish set off a round of laughter at the table. Mars took a deep breath and a pull off his beer, biting down on the recollection. Arielle and he had been married less than a month–a time when he had yet to reach a final judgment about her artsy acquaintances. Love had even rendered him somewhat relaxed about accompanying her to her friend’s opening. He tensed at the memory of the man’s leer as his hand slid down onto his wife’s buttock. But it wasn’t as though Mars had been a bully about it. The fashionably unkempt jerk outweighed him by at least forty pounds. And Mars had managed to catch a twenty-thousand-dollar sculpture before it hit the floor.
He chuckled.
"What?" Dr. Lovely arched her back suddenly, eagerly almost. Her throat, sliding into the pool of her jugular notch, seemed itself sculpted–as smooth and as cool as marble. He felt the pull of the ocean, the drag of a receding wave against the back of his legs.
"I’ll be right back," he said, then slid off his stool and headed for the restroom.
"I expect profound insights when you get back." Her expression looked kittenish.
The furtive ambience of the bar exploded into a riot of fluorescence that left him squinting. He relieved himself with his eyes closed, wondering how his daughter’s party was going–if she, too, was maybe a little tipsy, having sex on the living room floor while her mother’s friends circled around, patting their palms in sophisticated approval. Maybe all of them lined up for a go with Ramon. His chest knotted.
He zipped up and opened his eyes. NICKI–GET HER WHILE SHE’S HOT. It was scrawled in a lurid handwriting across the wall in front of him. Something about it held his attention, struck him as familiar. It came to him gradually. The phone number was only one digit different from his own. His fist shot up, and for an instant, he imagined a tucked chin, determined eyes staring back at him. Tension swelled his back and shoulders, then dissolved. He gave a weak head fake and launched a slow motion cross, his knuckles thudding lightly, covering the graffiti. If only it was that simple. His hand fell. At one time it had been.
Mars LeBeau, the God of Gore. He’d complained to Stevie D about the moniker. But Stevie was the best trainer in New Orleans. Mars had been lucky he took him on. He could still see the man’s grizzled flat-top and urgent shuffle, hear the rasp of his punched out vocal chords barking instructions. But New Orleans and Stevie D were a thousand miles away. So were his wife and daughter, for that matter.
He stepped out of the restroom wondering how old Dr. Lovely was just as she wrested her shoulder from under the Mexican’s hand. Her own hand bladed up between them. Her defiance was surprising, her glare a weapon suddenly bared of all pretense, devoid of any willingness to talk about it. The Mexican eased up closer and took her by the wrist, his other hand open, his shoulders drawn up in a shrug of feigned innocence. She shoved him away.
Now there was something Mars understood–like the bell signaling a new round. He suddenly found himself closing in.
The Mexican saw him in time to gesture, his arms triangulating low, his palms exposed, as if to say, So? A smug smile on his face, he threw the hook.
Mars shot inside it with his jab and the man’s head snapped back. The memory of years past sprang awake in his muscles, left him coiling automatically, sliding forward, exploding into the cross.
He recovered and shuffled backwards, his hands still up. The Mexican lay sprawled on his back in front of him. Giddy with exhilaration, Mars bobbed and weaved manically, threw an abbreviated uppercut into the air.
As quickly, the moment contracted, drew back into reality–bodies frozen, the murmur of a CNN news report teasing the hushed air–a diorama of life gone nowhere except down. The Mexican’s friends staggered over to their companion. Mars dropped his upraised fists.
Dr. Lovely’s expression was wondrous.
"You’re a fighter," she said.
He just looked at her. The remark struck him as odd–like calling Mickey Mouse a rodent.
All at once, Eddie’s basso brogue concussed the air, ordering the Mexican’s friends to get him up and out of the bar. They dragged the man to his feet and hustled him toward the door, snickering in Spanish. Traffic sounds swelled then shrank as the door closed behind them.
Mars trembled slightly, the surge of adrenaline fueling muscles no longer needed. He felt awkward, conspicuous, even though everyone had returned to their drinks and conversation.
"Nice cross," Eddie said, then went back to washing mugs.
Mars eased back onto his stool, Dr. Lovely’s attention almost palpable.
"Why’d you give it up?"
He just stared.
"Fighting," she said. "Why’d you quit?"
He started to say something when Melvin Briggs’s psychotic stare flashed through his mind. He tensed–even after all these years. It was Briggs’s trademark, his way of psyching out opponents. Mars had expected it, had prepared for it in the same way he’d prepared for the man’s fighting style–the unique way in which he brought violence to the ring. That’s just what fighters did. Prepared. But who could prepare for everything that happened outside the ring? Like Dr. Lovely gazing at him as though he were the hero in a romance novel. Something stirred in his gut. Her look deepened.
Do the unexpected.
Then the memory of the fist slamming into his temple, the blur, the blackout. Where had it all gotten him? He thought about it, yet, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t recall any ultimatum from Arielle, no either-or–just a look, then later, tears and concern.
CNN droned on over the clink of glassware, the on and off of water. Dr. Lovely waited.
He shrugged.
"I guess there’re plenty of reasons to quit anything," he said. "Maybe fate can’t stand too many champs in the ring."
She straightened, her attention seeming to stumble.
He threw back the rest of his beer.
"Who’d be left to buy the tickets?"
With that, he got up, told her he guessed he would see her next week, and left.
His street was deserted, the houses lightless behind borders of sidewalks and azalea hedges, their facades coy beyond the glow of an occasional streetlamp shouting into relief everything under it.
He killed the headlights, eased the car into the drive, and cut the engine.
The porch light was on. Two of the upstairs windows simmered indifferently.
He paused in the foyer, the only illumination coming from the display light over one of his wife’s paintings–a woman clasping the sides of her face, her expression one of horror, two children playing serenely in the background. It had always reminded him of a movie poster, as though advertising the full-length feature to be found inside. Arielle refused to take it down.
The living room was dark except for the erratic shifting of light coming from the television where two fighters, their bodies glistening, shuffled about, exchanging punches. Curious, he stood watching for a while, assailed by the images and the muffled excitement of the announcer. Then he realized that the room had been tidied, the banner gone, the liquor bottles returned to their cabinet.
Was it a concession, some token gesture of reconciliation? Her way of giving in without giving too much? The fighters–one with an eye swollen nearly shut–moved wearily, shuffling, hurling punches.
For an instant, he felt the dread of the locker room just before entering the ring–the silence squirming with infinite potential. For pain. Loss. The possibility, however remote, of death even. But then, winning.
He grunted softly and something stirred in front of him. He eased forward and peered over the back of the sofa.
Annie lay curled on her side, her hair pooled around her head like an underwater mermaid.
She surfaced suddenly, sat up, blinking.
"What are you doing down here?" he said. "It’s late."
"I don’t know," she said, stifling a yawned. Mom said you bailed–out the window. I was afraid you weren’t coming back."
He felt gut-punched.
"No!" he said, "I’m back." He could think of no other reassurances to offer, hoped she needed none.
"The party was lame," she said.
Seconds passed; the fighters fought. She drew a deep breath.
"Just so you know, I’ve never had sex." Her mouth tightened into a crooked smile. "I think Mom just needed an excuse for a party."
His face numbed. Surely there was something he ought to say. Disagree? Agree?
The two boxers closed on each other in a flurry of punches. One was beginning to let his guard down.
"You wanna watch the fight?"
Her face, craning up to him, was half in shadow, half in light, yet full of something–enthusiasm, hope, maybe. He shuffled around the end of the sofa and sat down next to her.
"When did you start liking boxing?"
She shrugged. "I don’t know. It’s kinda neat actually."
Elation not unlike that brought on by a perfect punch welled up in him. He threw an arm around her and gave her a hug. And for a moment, he felt the respite of the clinch, the brief suspension of time and struggle, that instant of peace and renewal one feels just before the bell rings. And so it did.
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