The sound of tape peeled through the musty room, and the thick white roll swirled around her knuckles. Sweat beaded on her brown, buzzed hair, resembling morning dew on fresh cut grass. She used her teeth to tear the tape and slapped the roll on the wooden bench next to her. The room fell quiet, and Ares exhaled contently.
She always enjoyed silence, especially when she was younger. If she focused hard enough on the feelings of nostalgia, she became nine years old again, waking in the early hours of the morning to indulge in the quiet minutes before the animals on her farm back home stirred. She could almost smell the biscuits her father used to make, and taste the thick gravy that accompanied them. She smiled to herself, tobacco dripping from the corner of her mouth as she recalled learning how to shoe horses and clean the cattle troughs. Her father’s voice rang clear as a bell in her ears, calling her to wake before the chickens. His gentle presence was something she missed greatly.
“Almost done?” Donald said as he clapped a large, dusty hand on her slim shoulder. The sound echoed around the empty locker room. He pulled the cigarette out from his lips and exhaled the smoke into the air.
“Yeah,” she said with tobacco still tucked in her lip. She spat the brown herb on the ground and stretched her fingers. Donald handed her a worn pair of burgundy boxing gloves, and helped her tighten them into place. His delicate blue eyes were buzzing with amusement. He smiled and his large nostrils flared. He finished lacing the gloves before rubbing Ares’ head.
Ares wanted revenge. It was something that bore deeply in her veins. Her father always said her bloodlust would become her worst enemy, but this time she was okay with it. Those son-of-a-bitch Germans killed him. Killed him dead while he was unarmed. Killed him dead as he helped his wounded friend to his feet. They had no mercy, and she wasn’t going to have any, either.
“This Kraut’s a big fella,” Donald looked at her gently, the wrinkles around his eyes creasing deeply. He made his way towards a chipped, wooden desk that was adjacent from the bench Ares was sitting on. “Think you can handle him?” He said while he fiddled with the small dials on a radio that sat on the table. Abruptly, classical music snapped and crackled to life and breezed through the locker room.
She rolled her eyes. “Of course I can.” Donald picked up the metal bucket that was underneath the wooden table and held it up for Ares to spit the remaining chew into.
“I’m just a little worried, this guy is your first fight. He’s gonna be a good match for ya.”
“Ain’t ya heard of David and Goliath, Donald?”
He nodded thoughtfully, stifling a laugh. He draped a robe onto her slim body. “Be careful, Ares.” He meant it. Donald, despite having a higher military rank, treated Ares as an equal. He had joked that he would adopt her someday, and she deep down liked the idea.
She looked over her shoulder, dark brown eyes fixated on Donald with a smirk. “Always am.”