He’s not here yet.
I sat on the floor, looking at myself in the mirror. My face appeared smaller. I have lost weight. The girl in the mirror stared back at me. There’s no emotion in her face. Her faced was bruised but there’s no pain only fierceness. I had removed the plasters I had on my chin and forehead before coming here. The cut is almost healing but still it sting whenever I touched them.
I remembered yesterday’s battle, between me and Olivia.
I lost to her.
I was too slow to see her moves. I wanted to prove to Mr. Henry that I got this and I’m not as reckless as he claimed but in the end I proved him right. I was not ready for today’s class. I wanted to bolt before he arrived. I had to force myself to stay put. I knew he would totally be like ‘I told you so’ and I might end up saying something rude.
Just like the previous class.
I never expected to come to hate Mr. Henry. I was starstrucked the first time I saw him. I admired him.
I mean I do still admire him but his way of teaching is so messed up. He criticizes more than teaching.
I had to shut my mouth tight from snapping at him sometimes. And he would not talk unless it’s necessary. I still remember the second day of our class, I tried to start a conversation and all he did was scolding me for not concentrating.
It’s not like I want to chat all day long, it would have been nice if he’s just like my friends’ trainers. They constantly give advices and motivational talk.
I heard a sound at the back of the class so I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at the back. It’s Mr. Henry in his usual black t-shirt and tracksuit. I waited for his sarcastic remarks but he said nothing. He walked to the long table at the back and started to study the weapons on it. The room is no longer empty. There’re various weapons and equipments for our trainings. I stood up and walked to him.
Even before I reach him, he said, “Start warming up. We will resume last weeks’ practice.” I nodded and went to warm up at the centre of the room.
Last week I pissed him off literally. He claimed that I’m not giving it all and that I’m not serious. I knew I have been trying my best to cope up with everything the institute prepared for me so when he said those words I lost it.
I yelled at him. I told him that he’s nobody to judge me and that he’s not even qualified to teach me, after all he had just graduated two years ago. I knew that was stupid because obviously the whole institute know that he’s one of the best here and even I admit it. I have seen his moves. It’s incredible but that day I just said the first thing that came to my mind.
That’s not even the worst part, instead of scolding or punishing me, he simply walked out of the class. I felt guilty as hell. I didn’t intended to cause such a scene.
After yesterday’s humiliating meeting, only now I’m seeing him. I know I should apologize but I’m too scared to even bring up last week’s incident.
He looked calm today. He leaned against the wall behind me and waited for me to finish the warm up. My eyes were on his reflection in the mirror. I got used to watching him while working out or practicing but of course only when he’s not watching.
He was holding a knife in his hand. His fingers were tracing the blade. His dark blonde hair is longer now. No more cropped cut. He face is square with a jaw line that could chisel granite. His deep sets of eyes were analyzing the plain knife. I could see the shadowed blue eyes. His eyes glanced up and met my gaze. Even if I was watching him through the mirror, his sudden stare made me to blink away. I steadied my uneven breathing and faced him.
“Ready?” He asked in his rich voice.
“Yes.” I nodded.
He started to show me last week’s moves the one to dodge and seize a knife. He moved in incredible speed. The way he moves reminded me of dancing. He has the elegance and the sharpness. I copied his steps and he corrected me whenever I made mistakes. The classroom is quiet except for the sound our footsteps. As usual, he instructed me in his short sentences. The normal routine was back but I waited for his angry words. An hour and half passed by too soon.
I being myself, reluctantly asked him, “Are you angry?” I stopped addressing him formally after a few classes and he didn’t seem to mind. “Why should I be?” He asked me after done drinking his water.
“Because I didn’t do well yesterday.” I supplied.
He nodded, “Well, I assumed you would have realized your mistakes and will start trying harder.” He said to me.
I simply nodded, not wanting to say anything stupid.
He took a few strides away from me.
“Now I will try to stab you anywhere I want to. I want you to dodge.” He told me and walked towards me fast with the knife. I watched his footsteps and his body language. His eyes were analyzing my reactions as he thrust the knife to my torso. Instead of avoiding the tip of the blade, I did a karate chop on his fast coming wrist and quickly took a step back. I attempted side snap kick. I arched my leg towards him and he caught my foot. I balanced my body to stand with one foot.
He eyes were disapproving.
“What are you doing?” He asked me, still not letting go of my foot.
“I dismantled the weapon and now attacking my opponent.” I explained in my small voice.
“And what did I asked you to do?”
“Dodge.” He leveled his stare to mine.
“I was… I had this sudden thought to improvise. Be spontaneous.” I blabbered.
He suddenly dropped my leg. He acted fast. He grabbed my hand, his fingers against my palm. His thumb pressed the back of my hand under the knuckles. He twisted my hand and I had to contort my body to prevent my wrist from snapping. I still remember my first week lesson on how to perform a wrist lock. I also learnt the way to pull free from the wrist lock but it should have been done before he restrained me.
“I reckon you to follow my order and the way I teach you. This is not the place to fight spontaneously.” He told me and let go of me. My other hand automatically grabbed my aching wrist and gave him an accusing look.
“But my attackers will not be following the same ways. I want to prepare myself for any kind of moves and be able to respond quickly without slacking like yesterday.” I complained.
He sighed in frustration. “I thought you would try harder but still acting the same.” His judgemental tone made me annoyed.
“Listen Naomi, the reason you could not beat Olivia was because you are very predictable. You hesitate more than moving fast. Your way of fighting could easily tell your opponent that you’re amateur. You have to get control of your basic, learn every small step and perform it without experiencing any trouble. Only then you can fight your battle in your own way.”
I didn’t say a word to that. He was right.
Without wasting time, he handed me the knife, “You want to do it in your own way? Attack me.” He took a few steps backwards, giving me space to move. I stared at him in surprise.
He noticed my reluctance to step forward. “You won’t hurt me. I want you watch how I dodge. Now, attack.” I didn’t wait for further order.
I simply ran forward, holding the knife and thrust it a little slower that I supposed to. He moved away swiftly. I looked up at him. He was standing a foot away from me.
“Who asked you to stop?” He asked me.
I raised my hand and attempted to slash his arm but he jerked to the side. In my seventh try, he got hold of my arm and arm locked me by holding the knife around my throat. He gripped was strong I couldn’t move. He was standing close behind me. I could smell his musky body cologne and light sweat. I relaxed my body and stayed still. His gripped loosen and I did the first thing pop in my mind. I stepped on his foot and got out of his arm. He caught my shoulder firmly and dragged me back. I tried to turned and punch him but he gave me no room to move. I remembered the attacked I had at the parking lot few months back. I was helpless back then. I don’t want to be the same scared girl so struggled hard and managed to escape and wanted to run but I changed my mind wanting to attack him instead. He took one big stride forward to stop me. I made a sudden turn and my body went imbalance when I hit his strong chest. He didn’t expect me to turn so he pulled back quickly and grabbed both my arm, catching me from falling but his left hand lost grip when the knife I was holding slashed his wrist. I panicked and let go of his arm, falling down. I didn’t let go of his right arm so I dragged him together with me.
My back hit the ground and I yelped. His weight crushed me but he managed to recover quickly and steadied himself, hovering on top of me. His two hands stretched out on the floor to my sides, bearing his weight. My eyes went wide at his proximity. My breathing felt heavy. His eyes locked to mine. His crystal blue eyes were stunningly beautiful. It took me seconds to realize it.
“I slashed you with the knife.” A slow grin spread on my face.
“You said I couldn’t hurt you.” I reminded him his words.
He seldom smile with his lips, actually I never seen him smiling. Even now it was not his lips but his eyes. His eyes shine and there’s a glint of amusement and maybe interest. I would have kept reading his deep eyes but he shifted and sat beside me. He stared his wrist, the red line. The cut was not deep, just the surface. He looked up at me and reached for my hand. His hand touched my shoulder and I winced when I felt a slight pain. I glanced and saw my cloth was torn in a thin line. I must have cut myself when I struggled to get away from his arm lock.
“Still reckless.” He stated. I would have got irritated listening to the same words in every class if not for the tone of his voice. Rather than angry or disapproving, his tone was light.
I smiled at him.
We stood up. The time was up and the class is over.
“Go to the medic.” He ordered.
“You too!” I called back as I walked out.
I caught a glimpse of him rolling his eyes.