Ruby Seidner

You step into the ring, gloves on, eyes focused.
The teacher holding the pads looks nothing like him
kind, soft even
The round begins.
10 seconds
He becomes the devil.
The man who took your innocence
when you were only eight years old.
The man who parted your lips
and haunts them to this day.
20 seconds
The teacher tells you to punch with all your might.
“This is your time,” he says.
30 seconds
He starts moving around the mat,
you can’t bear to look in his eyes, as your feet shuffle with his.
You follow him, meek.
45 seconds
You look into his eyes.
You see the flecks of evil between the deep brown.
You remember how the devil stalked his prey,
how in your eyes every man became him.
50 seconds
“Dig deep, Ruby,” the teacher says
Don’t you dare say my name, you want to respond.
“Let me have it,” he prods, smiling
the glint in his eye reminds you of the devil.
The way he acted like it was nothing,
when you knew in your bones that shouldn't happen to girls your age.
You suddenly feel every other girl across the nation:
Thirty percent of females experience some form of what you did,
you're sure it's more.
You realize that's what you are:
A number, a statistic.
You feel the rage come.
He made you
a sob story.
You see the little girl who once imagined
the princess who would kiss her one day.
All her firsts are forever tainted now.
You punch, you scream, you kick, you fight.
You can’t make it right
until you demolish the punching pads in front of you.
Front, left, back and center, you kick the world off its axis.
He’s caught off-guard, the whole gym staring as you sob and scream.
Your body lets out tendrils of fiery rage,
until the pads are beaten black and blue.
Then a weight lifts.
You’re free.
60 seconds
He looks at you, and instead of being the devil,
he is the kind-hearted kickboxing teacher who tells corny jokes.
“Good job kid,” he says.
You put your hands on your knees and arch your back,
trying to get breath into your lungs.
You wheeze
yet you don’t hyperventilate.
Instead, you pick yourself up and stand tall.
You are in control.
You are finally victorious.
Ruby Seidner is a high-school student who has been writing since she was a little girl. She has been published in The Global Youth Review, The Coterie Youth Mental Magazine, and AllTeenpolitics with forthcoming publications from Polyphony Lit's blog, and Chewing Dirt Magazine. She lives in California with her parents and two dogs.
"Boxing Ring" by Midnight Believer is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.
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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!