It’s been almost a year since I wrote this, and it still cracks me up. This is from an excerpt from my unfinished YA Novel, The Baby Dancers.
Zeke knew there was trouble when they came down the trail and Aunt Lucinda was standing there with her hands on her hips, smiling a smirk Zeke had never seen.
They set down their jars, and Aunt Lucinda bowed to Master Ji. “Josh, Zeke, how are you today?” she said to them, giving them a little bow also.
“I am well, Aunt Lucinda,” said Josh.
“I have been enjoying this day,” said Zeke. “How are you?”
“Good.” Again, with the smirk.
Master Ji turned to Zeke. “Today’s sparring lesson…” Zeke noted the use of the word ‘lesson,’ “…will be taught by your Aunt. Zeke, you are to engage her in hand-to-hand combat. The first to yield loses.”
“What? But, but… she’s pregnant!” Zeke said. Had the adults gone crazy again?
“That is of no consequence,” Master Ji said matter-of-factly.
“I can’t hit her, what if I harmed the baby?” Zeke could not believe what was happening. It had to be a joke.
“You would hit her if she is trying to kill you. Regardless, this is an important lesson Zeke, one that your aunt approached me to implement. I do not agree with her methodology, but I do agree with her message. Prepare yourself.”
Zeke took off his sword while looking at Josh, whose eyes were as big as saucers. Zeke decided right there to use blocks. He knew that Lucinda was a marginal fighter when it came to martial arts. She was good with her sword, but her real purpose at the monastery was academic teaching—and keeping Uncle Hubert happy, it seemed. In any event, he would simply wear her out.
Then Master Ji blindfolded him.
Uh-oh, thought Zeke.
“Begin,” Master Ji said simply.
Zeke’s mind whirled, thoughts seemingly coming to him like bolts of lightning striking the trees in the valley in a storm. He heard footsteps and twisted, stepping to one side. He heard and felt a fist traveling past his head.
Zeke at that point knew he was going to lose, and take lumps. His aunt may be a marginal warrior, but she had training from the best. His brain went into overdrive. Was this a lesson on yielding to the inevitable? Should he give up now? Should he…
A sharp blow landed on his calf and he collapsed instantly, hitting the ground. He rolled.
Don’t think, act, thought Zeke.
Zeke sprung to his feet and crouched. “I am not surprised you swept me with your foot, Aunt Lucinda. I believe your ever-growing breasts have dampened your ability to hit me with your arms. Surely your swing close to your body has been hampered.”
Zeke heard a sharp intake of breath and shot his hand out now that he had a direction. Indeed, his hand connected with a breast in question. He quickly but gently squeezed it and said, “Honk honk!”
He swiftly withdrew his arm but a fist connected with his wrist. He sidestepped again, but a blow landed on his side, sending him tumbling. He twisted but not fast enough, and slammed into the ground on the same wrist. He grunted in pain.
That’s when a foot connected with his butt. He rolled but it was no use, more blows rained down on him. He tried to get up, failed, shoved back into the dirt with a mighty kick. Blindfolding him evened out their fighting abilities but he could not hit her. He could not overcome that disadvantage no matter how hard he tried.
Zeke tried to summon anger, but he found it difficult to be angry, and he did not know why. Instead, in the rain of blows and pain, he felt calm. His thoughts felt strangely dejected from the hurt he was now enduring. He was thankful she was not raining blows down on his head; otherwise, she would severely injure him.
Then he figured it out.
He took off the blindfold.
The first to yield loses. Master Ji had said. He said nothing about a blindfold. Zeke had worn it for no reason.
As he removed the cloth, a foot was traveling to his crotch. He turned to one side and grabbed it, using her momentum to throw her off balance not by pushing, which she would expect, but by pulling. Her other foot popped off the ground and she landed right on top of him, and though she was surprised, she grabbed his injured wrist and squeezed. Zeke yelped. He instantly relaxed. If she broke his wrist, his summer would be a waste.
Now Aunt Lucinda was lying on top of him, and they were nose to nose.
“I yield, Auntie Lucinda.”
She frowned, but then smiled. She made no move to get up, but she did let go of his wrist.
“I feel your baby will be the best thing that ever happened to us.”
Lucinda’s face crumpled and she started to cry.
“Oh Zeke, you always know what to say.” Then she kissed him, and just as suddenly, got up and ran off.
Zeke thought about getting up but the ground was comfortable, much more comfortable than the previous pummeling.
Master Ji came into his view on the right hand side, looking down at his face. “And what lesson did we learn today, Ezekiel?” asked Master Ji, his tone light and full of mirth.
“In battle, there are no rules. There is only the objective.”
Joshua came into view on his left side.
“What about you, Joshua? What did you learn?”
“Don’t anger a pregnant woman,” said Josh, bringing the entire week into focus.