We are both lying on our backs beside each other in the center of the ring. I am stunned and semiconscious. I have not processed what just happened. It occurred so fast. I hear voices. Some seem to be saying “Get up, Marissa.” Others are saying “Finish her, Jailyn.” I’m now aware that my opponent has rolled onto my upper belly. Instinctively, I know I must get up. I prepare to bend my knees and dig my feet into the mat and lift up. But something is very wrong. Neither of my feet can find the mat. I cannot locate my knees.
My senses start to return. My opponent has hooked my right leg behind the knee with her arm, raising my foot and calf into the air. My left leg is scissored by both her legs, her ankles locked tightly together, to where I’m barely able to move it. I know what I must do; I will roll my upper body to the side. My head won’t turn. Her arm is cradled around my neck forcing my chin into my upper sternum. I rotate my shoulders but the right shoulder blade can get only about an inch off the mat. The voices become louder, more frenzied. I think I hear my husband. I unmistakably hear the voice of my opponent’s man, “Stick a fork in her, Jailyn. She’s cooked.” I know I’m in trouble.
It started with a fender bender. It was her fault; she was texting while driving. I know it. I couldn’t convince the cop of it. That scum hit my BMW. We exchanged words. It got heated. I knew right away she was low class. I saw from her insurance card that her name was Jailyn and she lived in the projects. Her car was a piece of crap. The registration sticker was five months out of date. The rear passenger window had been knocked out and covered by plastic wrap. The body paint had long since faded with numerous dents and scratches marking the exterior. The insults flew. I called her “white trash,” “welfare queen,” and “burden to society.” She called me “rich bitch,” “Barbie,” and “princess.” I know it’s not nice to look down on people less fortunate than yourself. But really? Why should my tax money support people who contribute nothing? Let’s face it. The money just goes into cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. Right? And the women – just popping out babies out of wedlock, draining our resources even further. I say put them all to work. There’s no reason not to. Stop paying the freeloaders.
We stood at the scene chest to chest staring down each other. “Chick fight,” somewhat shouted as bystanders began to gather. I knew I could take her if we fought. At 5’4” and 115 lbs., I was one inch taller and probably 8-10 lbs heavier. She looked the part of a street punk. The long, straight, stringy jet black hair was topped by a backwards baseball cap. The nose was crooked like it had been broken. Her teeth could use braces. She was about 5 years younger than my 32 years. She looked like she could be attractive if she took care of herself. She was pale compared to my creamy tan skin. I had better muscle tone. My former competitive dancer’s legs were far more developed than her bony lower limbs. My thick calves, which drive my husband wild, seemed twice the size of hers.
I laughed when the cop wrote a citation for the expired registration. She called me a country club snob who thinks my shit doesn’t smell. She said next time she’d knock the Botox out of my face. Really? Botox? Did this idiot ever consider some of us naturally look good? The cop told us to stop the fighting words and saw us both off.
The insurance settlement went smoothly. I put the matter behind me. Imagine my shock two weeks later when I learned Jailyn challenged me to a wrestling match. No kidding. The challenge came through Tony, a mutual acquaintance who knew Jailyn and I both had interest in combat sports. In fact, he trained both of us. Tony had been my instructor in grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu for three years. I didn’t know he volunteered his time and expertise for a city-funded women’s gym for the underprivileged where Jailyn got his services for free. According to Tony, Jailyn just wanted a standard rules freestyle wrestling match.
No punching, kicking, or hair pulling. He insisted there was no animosity on her part. The instructor claimed she was working hard to improve her life and only wanted to test herself in an athletic contest. “She’s really a good kid, Mari”. Tony tried to explain. “Doesn’t drink or do drugs. Quit smoking a few years ago. You know, she’s had a really tough life. Drug addict parents, foster homes, bad influences. She’s trying hard. Works as a diner waitress. Just passed the GED exam. Wrestling and BJJ helps give her focus. She’s in it for the challenge, the self-confidence. She’s just trying to spread her wings. That’s why she’s interested in a match. She’s really sorry about the accident and the heated exchange. This isn’t a grudge thing.”
“She’s from the streets. Will she try to bite and claw me?” I inquired.
“Not at all. She much better than that. She respects the sport.”
Why doesn’t she call me herself ?” I asked.
“Well, that’s not easy for her. She’s dealing with some issues. She gets easily intimidated?”
“Not a grudge thing, huh,” I thought. She didn’t seem intimidated when she got in my face at the accident. Who does he think he’s kidding. And me? Rolling around with that skank? I might get scabies. I declined the challenge.
Over the next few weeks, the idea of a wrestling match popped into my mind at random times. At first, it seemed silly. But at other times, it wasn’t easy to dismiss. I’m very competitive by nature. The fact that I was actually challenged by another woman was becoming more unsettling. Did this woman really think she could beat me? I’ve worked hard all my life. I’m nobody’s trophy wife. I’m a successful businesswoman. I have an MBA, a good marriage, an intellectually gifted son, and a nice income. We live in an exclusive community. We’re active in our country club. We have plenty of friends. I’m a gym addict. I strive hard in everything I do. I demand perfection from myself and my employees. Who does this Jailyn chick think she is? Thoughts of wrestling her occupied my mind more frequently. I started studying combat sports a few years ago in order to learn self-defense and stay in shape.
If I wanted a match, I could easily find other women – respectable women. I’ve wrestled women before. Maybe that’s it. Those were friendly matches with women I knew. Jailyn, on the other hand, is from another tribe…an inferior tribe. A tribe that needs to be put in its place. Before long, my quiet waking moments were filled with daydreams of Jailyn and I facing off. Woman vs. woman. A battle for control and dominance. One of us would be helplessly pinned or forced to submit. I pictured myself controlling her, bending her to my will. Should I bury her shoulders into the mat? Or should I make her scream, “I quit.” Gradually, my daydreams we’re becoming an obsession. I imagined myself in a prehistoric tribe where women were warriors. My technologically advanced tribe was harassed by a pesky tribe of have-nots who would raid our storehouses and steal food and supplies they were not capable of procuring for themselves. A tribe of losers whose only talent was mooching and thievery.
One night in bed, I dreamed the two tribes decided to settle their differences. Each side would choose a female warrior to fight the other tribe’s woman. A victory by my tribe would banish the losers from the land forever. If the other tribe wins, they would equally share our food, goods, tents….and men..and be our overlords. Jailyn and I are chosen to face each other. We battle nude in the sand as the two tribes watch. It’s no contest. I’m in complete control of her. She is helpless against me.
After having my way with her, I squeeze the last bit of fight out of her with a devastating bear hug, I drop her limp naked body in the sand and place my foot on her chest in a glorious victory pose. “Who’s the better woman, loser?” I bark at her. “Who’s the better woman?” I repeat. I make her say my name louder as she sobs. My tribe mates and I taunt her compatriots as they march off with their meager belongings, disappearing forever into the wilderness. I woke up to notice my heart racing. Amazed at my erect nipples and moist panties, I nudged my sleeping husband. “Trey, honey,” I whispered, “let’s make love.”
The next evening, during my workout at Tony’s gym, I could only think of Jailyn. In one of the combat rooms, Tony keeps a 20 by 20 foot boxing ring with four ropes. In the center of the ring, a heavy bag was suspended from the ceiling. I climbed into the ring, put on gloves and pounded away. “Now, there’s a knockout,” said Tony. “And the punch wasn’t bad either…Hey Mari, I’m leaving and we’re locking up for the night. You’re welcome to stay but the doors will lock behind you when you leave. Just turn out the lights when you’re done.”
“Thanks, Tony.” Alone in the gym. In the ring. You know who was on my mind. I stared down the heavy bag. My imagination took over. I stood in a corner, feeling it’s pad on my back. My husband is rubbing me down. I have a stool, towels, and water. The tension in the air is so thick. The spectators buzz in anticipation. She’s in the opposite corner with her man. We wait for the opening bell. I’m so excited. I feel butterflies. How could this fantasy possibly be more intense? I knew. I went to my gym bag. I changed into my Tommy Bahama floral print bikini which I keep for the pool. Back in the ring, I dished more punishment onto the bag. I strutted. I preened. I flashed sexy smiles. The nipples stiffened. If I had a little more indiscretion, I would have been nude. This is how it should be. Stark and primal. Woman vs. woman. My body vs. hers. My brains vs. hers. One person controlling the other. Something was kindled inside of me. I felt so awakened, so alive, so whole…and sexy!
“Tony, I accept the match with Jailyn,” I texted him the next day. “Is it still on the table?” He assured me it was. He would handle all arrangements and communication between Jailyn and me. They sent me a proposal. Jailyn wanted a freestyle match which would eliminate most submission holds. Five seconds for a pin. Two falls would decide the match. We’d use a standard mat with circle. Attire would be sports bra with yoga pants. I made a counter proposal. I added a few of my favorite submission holds which would only be legal in BJJ. Pins or submissions counted. Location would be in the ring in Tony’s gym. Attire was changed to bikini and bare feet. And one more change. The winner would have the right to strike a victory pose over the loser who must comply. To my surprise, and excitement, Jailyn agreed to all changes. A date was set. The event would be private. We would each be permitted to invite guests. No photos or videos. Tony managed to make a full card out of the event by booking two professional kickboxing matches and a Muay Thai fight. Jailyn and I would be the last match.
I tried to tap Tony for intel about Jailyn’s wrestling skill. According to him, she was all about defense and escapes. “She fights the same way she lives,” he explained. “She just tries to survive. I’ve been working with her on offensive moves and transitions but it doesn’t come easy to her.” He said he arranged two other matches with her. In both matches, she was elusive before ultimately losing. “This shouldn’t be hard,” I thought.
Finally, the day arrived. My body tingled as we pulled into the gym parking lot. Trey and I were shown my dressing room. Guests were arriving. My invitees were nearly all women. I allowed a few husbands. I slipped on my brightly colored $200 bikini and robe. And waited. The anticipation was unbearable. The Muy Thai fight was finishing up. “You’re up,” said Tony. My heart pounded as we walked to the ring.
The referee called us to the center to meet Jailyn with her man, Zack. He was a short, tightly muscled, heavily tattooed serious looking man, with short brown hair and goatee, dressed in a tank T shirt, denim jeans and boots. A five inch scar runs vertically down his right cheek. As I disrobed, I felt another wave of excitement. Compared to my looks and bright bikini, Jailyn looked pitiful.
She wore a dark blue bikini top. I’d say we were both size 34B. She had on short dirt stained denim cutoffs instead of a bikini bottom. Compared to my layered chestnut brown hair, tied into a ponytail, her long black hair was mangy. She stretched her arms upward revealing unshaved armpits. Her navel looked full of lint. Some of her toenails looked yellow and brittle with fungal infection. I stared her down with my deep set brown eyes. She looked nervous and didn’t make eye contact. Her grayish blue eyes looked intensely downward at the mat. I flexed my muscles to intimidate, especially my legs, showing the marked contrast of development. She marched in place opening and closing her fists. The referee gave us instructions. We did not shake hands. I looked over our respective guests seated on opposite sides of the ring. About thirty people total.
My supporters are wearing sports outfits, skirts, and sun dresses while hers showed up in T shirts, tank or halter tops with jeans and old sneakers or boots. As Trey and I walked back to my corner, I looked directly at Jailyn’s people on the other side of the ropes. I rolled back my shoulders, tilted my head and flashed them a sexy girly smile. I admit, it was a condescending gesture. I showed them what a sophisticated, smart and beautiful woman looked like – someone way out of their league.
“Ugh,” I said to Trey. “She’s gross. And her man, he looks like another low life. Trey points me to the referee who’s about to signal. I’m feeling butterflies. The bell sounded.
Jailyn practically tripped over her own feet as we circled in the center of the ring. It was clear from the start that I was stronger and more athletic than my opponent. My wrestling style is aggressive. Tony was right. Jailyn was defensive minded, adept at escapes and preventing takedowns. I controlled her by getting in several good throws and riding her on the ground. She didn’t mount much offense. Her style was awkward but she was tough to put away. I swarmed on her. Finally, I wore her down. I got her in a fireman’s carry, flipped her over, and mounted her for a school girl pin to win the first fall. The thrill of my knees digging into my opponent’s biceps as the referee pounded the mat for a five count was overwhelming. Giddy with excitement, I got up to leap in the air. I stretched my arms to the sky and wiggled my ass directly in front of Jailyn’s guests. I ran back to my corner to meet Trey. I felt like a predator as I watched my opponent wobble back to her corner. I couldn’t wait for the bell to start the second fall so I could attack her again.
The second fall begins. I continued the aggression. Jailyn seemed to pick up her defensive game. To my surprise, she repeatedly blocked me when I tried to shoot in. After several minutes, I failed to get her off her feet. Her head mirrored mine. Her hands pushed off me, not allowing penetration. She sprawled out of the way. “Come on bitch, go down,” I snarled. Frustrated, I let myself get sloppy. As I went in for my opponent’s upper body, she slipped under my right arm, maneuvering into a duck under. From behind, she grabbed my right arm, pulling my body sideways. I stumbled, trying to readjust my feet to prevent falling. Jailyn charged as I was off balance. Lowering her hip, she stormed forward, under my arm, crashing her shoulder flush into my ribs.
I dropped to my knees like I was shot. I fell to my side in a fetal position, clutching the right side of my rib cage in excruciating agony. I couldn’t breathe. Every attempt at inhalation only caused the ribs to hurt more. I got up on my knees with my waist bent forward. Jailyn saw her opportunity. Placing her knee on my back she grasped my chin with both hands. The scrawny woman pulled back creating intense tension in my neck, back, and shoulders. Facing the ropes, I saw her guests delight in mocking the cutesy smile I flashed for them before the match. They were seeing my teeth again, but now as a grotesque grimace. In pain and in trouble, I tried to mentally collect myself. I managed to get my arms between my neck and opponent’s arms. Arching my back, through severe pain, I pushed against her knee while my arms pushed against hers. Feeling her lock loosen, in an instant I slipped my chin out of the hold and lunged forward into the ropes. Using the ropes to pull myself up, I stalled to catch my breath, until the referee ordered us to the center of the ring.
We assumed a neutral stance. Sensing I am weakened, Jailyn dove at my legs. Ordinarily, I would easily have sprawled away, but the lancing rib pain as I threw back my hips and legs forced me to stop. My opponent grabbed the back of my knees sending me to the mat. I kicked my legs free and rolled over on my belly just before Jailyn lunged onto my back. She grabbed my ankles forcing my knees to flex. She pushed my right ankle into the crease of the left knee. She bent the left knee and sat on left ankle with all her weight trapping my right leg with the left. I groaned as I felt the grinding pain of my thick calves and ankles being crushed against each other. The scruffy brunette wrapped her thighs around my left ankle keeping the leg trap intact. With both hands free, she reached under my chin, grasped and pulled back into another rear chin lock. With additional strain to my neck, back, and shoulders, I am confused and embarrassed by the smaller woman’s onslaught.
Again, I gathered my composure. I felt her hold on my legs loosen. My leg strength overpowered hers. I pushed my left ankle against her thigh with all my might, until my right leg was free. I arched, placing more weight on my knees while working my arms under hers. I pushed with my arms until I finally broke the chin lock. I grabbed Jailyn’s arm and rolled, toppling the aggressor off my back. We rolled together into the ropes, where the referee broke us apart and again brought us into a starting position. But with the loss of mobility, I was vulnerable. I could not move my legs out of the way when Jailyn shot in. My feet went flying out from under me. Flat on my back, I tried to roll over. The bitch held my ankles under both arms and drove my calves above my head. I’m rolled into a matchbook pin. I offered no resistance during the five count as my opponent took the second fall.
In pain, I clutched my ribs, kneeling on the mat with my head down and my rear in the air. I made it back to my corner where Trey sat me on the stool. I couldn’t breathe without pain. My ribs are bruised, perhaps broken. My pride is hurt. I’m angry and ashamed to have been folded up with my ass facing the sky with that fleabag in complete control of me. Trey asked if I wanted to quit. No way. I’m not conceding this match to that lowbred slob. My breaths became shallow to minimize the agony. I knew I was the better athlete, the better wrestler, the better woman. As long as I aggressively kept moving forward, she couldn’t stop me. I would be careful from now on. She’s good defensively but I would break her.
The bell sounded for the third fall. I pressed the attack but Jailyn refuted my attempts for a takedown. We were both slowing. We grappled on our feet, back and forth across the ring for another six minutes, with neither one gaining the advantage. I was the aggressor but each time I moved in, Jailyn cleverly changed angles, using her elbows and arms to block my rushes. But keeping her on the defensive left her without opportunity to mount an attack. We grabbed at each other’s arms, hands, and elbows; our bodies pushing and pulling from one side of the ring to the other.
There had been little ground action thus far into the third fall. I managed to tackle her a few times but was unable to gain control as we both got back on our feet. After an additional four minutes, we seemed to be moving in slow motion, hindered by fatigue, muscle tightness, and pain. We tumbled together to the mat gripping each other with our foreheads touching and legs intertwined. Together we rolled across the ring, hips over hips, shoulders over shoulders, each of us alternating being on top. Finally, we rolled into the ropes, where the referee ordered us up and brought us to the center of the ring. We were both breathing rapidly, but it was my lungs which were working harder. The deeper breaths again flared my rib pain. My right thigh muscles started twitching in uncontrolled spasms. My calves were cramping. My body wasn’t responding quickly to my will. The two of us attacked each other’s upper body. I was no longer moving Jailyn backward as she started to push into me, now forcing me to respond defensively.
Still no takedown. Ten minutes into the third fall, we’re using our legs trying to trip the other. We pushed and pulled and spun each other around. Holding on to each other, we stumbled around the ring. Struggling to stay upright, we staggered in each other’s arms into my corner. “Come on, Marissa, you’re getting to her.” Hearing Trey’s voice and seeing his face in my home corner was like a warm salve over my body. I broke away from my opponent, throwing her into the ropes. Jailyn looked vulnerable as she straightened herself up to recover her balance. I began my charge.
Right away, I knew something was wrong. My legs felt like they were in quicksand. I could barely feel the mat under my feet. I stumbled clumsily into my adversary. Jailyn caught me by the chest and shoulders and slammed me into my own corner. I felt my back bounce off the corner pad and staggered forward uncontrollably half bent over at the waste; wobbling head first into my waiting opponent. Jailyn grabbed the back of my head, securing a front face lock. Just a few feet away, Trey screamed, “Marissa, the ropes.” I reached behind me, my fingers outstretched, frantically groping for the ropes in order to break the hold. I found only air. With my head firmly tucked under Jailyn’s s hairy arm pit, she started to walk backward pulling me with her. My neck being stretched, I had no choice but to walk with her, the ropes behind me now out of reach.
I attempted to break by placing my hands on her arms and pulling. I stopped walking with her and dug my feet in the mat and pushed backward while trying to lift Jailyn’s arms. She responded by pushing her bicep down on my head and yanking up my chin, cranking my neck. I let out a yelp as sudden pain shot across the back of neck. We walked a few more steps. I resisted again but Jailyn responded with a second crank causing my body to jerk. There would be no more insubordination. I’m forced to walk wherever Jailyn willed. My tormentor resumed her steps backward and I followed.
As we headed toward the center of the ring, I can’t see my husband but I know he’s in our corner, watching my bare back and hunched shoulders moving farther away from him like a captive being taken from her homeland. Perhaps he is stretching his arm out to me as if he could bring me back. Jailyn’s arm was wrapped around my nose, my distorted face forced to look downward. I could see only the white mat and our lower bodies. I saw our feet face each other, mine moving forward, following Jailyn’s feet walking backwards. My pruned and polished toes could only walk in passive submission in the direction dictated by my foe’s fungal toenails. My shapely knees and calves moved in subservient compliance to her knobby spindly legs. I watched the mat pass below us. My belly button obediently followed the path of my opponent’s lint laden navel. My vibrant Tommy Bahama bottom accepted orders from her grubby Daisy Dukes as if a leash connected them. I sensed tension and anxiety from my supporters, seeing their woman’s svelte athletic body bent over in subjugation to the smaller scrappy grappler. Pain throbbed in my neck, ribs, and legs. My facial features are twisted causing more breathing difficulty. I have no answer for this hold.
Briefly, the dominant woman paused, then swung my body around, maintaining her firm hold on my head and neck, then resumed walking backward, parading me around the ring. I lost my orientation. My visual field limited; I could only see white mat. Like a pilot without instruments who cannot distinguish the sea from the sky, I did not know my position in the ring. I heard women’s voices behind me, “Ya ain’t doin any talkin now, are ya, bitch? Now yer learnin what white trash is about.” We walked several more steps, then stopped. I realized my back was to Jailyn’s supporters, the same ones I taunted with an ass wiggle earlier. She had me bent over as they viewed me from behind. My vibrant bikini covered buttocks, sitting atop my bare legs, faced Jailyn’s people like an accused standing before her peers, awaiting judgment. “Try wiggling yer ass now, sweetheart,” someone said.
I started to feel faint. “Is this the end?” I panicked. The referee had the same thought. He brought his face to my level and asked if I wished to submit. With Jailyn’s arms around my face, I could only answer, “Nnnnnnmmmf. I waved him off with my hand.
“Is she doing this on purpose?” I wondered. “Is she deliberately punishing me? Or is she simply unsure what to do? Does she realize she could submit me with a neck crank?” I remembered Tony saying Jailyn was weak with offensive transitions. I’d wait for her to make a mistake and escape. I got help from the referee. Warning her of stalling, he gave her ten seconds to transition or break the hold. Jailyn suddenly backed up, dragging me to the center of the ring. Her left arm grabbed my right wrist. In an instant, she rolled to her left, swinging my body in a semi-circular motion. The movement was fast and fluid. In a flash, she dropped backward to the mat, sending me crashing down on the back of my head, neck, and shoulders. I’m the victim of a perfect and viscous neck breaker.
We are both lying on our backs beside each other in the center of the ring. I am stunned and semiconscious. I have not processed what just happened. It occurred so fast. I hear voices. Some seem to be saying “Get up, Marissa.” Others are saying “Finish her, Jailyn.” I’m now aware that my opponent has rolled onto my upper belly. Instinctively, I know I must get up. I prepare to bend my knees and dig my feet into the mat and lift up. But something is very wrong. Neither of my feet can find the mat. I cannot locate my knees. My senses start to return. My opponent has hooked my right leg behind the knee with her arm, raising my foot and calf into the air. My left leg is scissored by both her legs, her ankles locked tightly together, to where I’m barely able to move it. I know what I must do; I will roll my upper body to the side. My head won’t turn. Her arm is cradled around my neck forcing my chin into my upper sternum. I rotate my shoulders but the right shoulder blade can get only about an inch off the mat. The voices become louder, more frenzied. I think I hear my husband. I unmistakably hear the voice of my opponent’s man, “Stick a fork in her Jailyn. She’s cooked.” I know I’m in trouble.
I try to power my way out, but due to pain and exhaustion, my attempts are weak. The skinny woman squirms, shifting her body higher toward my chest. In the process, my legs are further separated, exposing my crotch. I can feel my bikini bottom is twisted; I can only hope my labia is covered. Her right arm pulls my head forward with more force, punishing my already battered neck. Her left arm, hooking my leg, is pulling toward my head. The distance between my nose and knee is becoming shorter and shorter – now just a few inches. Finally, her two hands come together in a clasp, the fingers interlock into a death grip. The cradle is complete. I am thoroughly trapped.
I vaguely hear excitement and anticipation building up. There are shouts of “Ya got her Jailyn, go girl,” “Pin the Barbie doll”. I don’t hear my supporters. I’m now terrified of losing. I’m having an anxiety attack but I’m helpless. Jailyn rolls her body toward my head, tightening the tension in my legs. My right foot is hoisted higher in the air like a flag claimed as a trophy by a foreign invader. I feel the weight of her angular body on my chest. My shoulder blades are firmly forced to the mat.
Time seemed to slow down. I opened my eyes but could only see my own knee in front of my face and Jailyn’s shoulder on my chest. She squeezes with all her might, inflaming the pain through my body. I whimper. I sense the referee kneeling behind my head. Next thing I heard was the sound of the mat being slapped. A voice, sounding like it was coming from under water, began: Oonne….Ttwwoo,….
What goes through the mind of a man on the gallows just before he drops from the scaffold?” What does a prisoner on a guillotine think about in the final seconds before the blade falls? I think I know. Dissociation.
This isn’t me. I’m Marissa, a wife and mother. I’m sitting with my husband watching a wrestling match. We see a bikini clad woman in the ring being taken apart, tied up and pinned by a scraggly girl in dirty Daisy Duke shorts. Poor woman. Oh well, she signed on for it. Tonight we’ll have a romantic evening of dinner and dancing. Later, I’ll surprise him with my new lingerie. And then we’ll….
THREE,…..Jailyn’s guests shout out the count in unison…..FOUR,,,,..FIVE….Ding…Ding…Ding
She releases the hold, scrambles off of me, and scampers to her corner. Her people erupt in jubilation. The referee raises Jailyn’s arm high, declaring her the winner. Her supporters give her hugs and kisses. I’m flat on my back, sweaty and broken. My chest is heaving. My hair tie is long gone; the thick wavy hair is splayed behind my head. My supporters are quiet. I cannot look at them now. I’m not even ready to see Trey. I hear a friend’s faint voice, “We love you, Marissa” I know I will be emotionally devastated by my defeat, but for now, my mind is too numb. I stare at the unforgiving ceiling lights. I want to disappear. Maybe my body will dissolve into the mat, becoming one with it. I watch the ceiling lights break up into little pieces and scatter; then fix into new positions, becoming stars.
“Trey, I’m freezing. Why are we out here.”
“So you can see this. There’s the Big Dipper. The two stars on the outer part point to Polaris, the North Star. For centuries, sailors knew their latitude by measuring the distance from Polaris to the horizon. Those three stars are Orion’s Belt. See that green glow over there? That’s aurora borealis.”
“It’s the most beautiful sky I’ve ever seen.”
“It’s from solar wind interacting with the earth’s electromagnetic field.”
“Nerd. Did you have to ruin it?”
“OK, let’s try again. Wisdom and beauty can be found on a cold dark night if you know what to look for.”
“That’s more my language.”
“Let’s go inside. A fireplace and a bottle of merlot are waiting.”
“VICTORY POSE!” Her man shouts. “Don’t get up, lady. We’re not done yet. Jailyn, you need to do the victory pose, Remember, she insisted on it. She’ll know you’re her master. She’s your bitch. You own her. Let’s go.” I remember my own amendment to our agreement. I wonder if I will ever recover from the humiliation that’s coming. Resigned, I remain on my back.
Jailyn and Zack approach my supine body as I lie where I was pinned. He leans over the ropes and taunts my friends. “Look at your woman now. It’s over. Call the undertaker. Get the shovels out. Pay yer last respects. Who wants to be next?” He heads toward me and stops to stare at my feet. My exposed soles and toes pointing upward signal my acceptance of the terms of defeat. He smiles in satisfaction. I offer up my chest in prostration . “Jailyn, over here. Let’s do it.” She stands at my side, looking down on me. She hesitates. Her man urges her, “Do it. You’re the better woman.” Gingerly, she raises her foot, swings it over my chest, and steps down on my sternum.
I cannot bear to see any of it. I close my eyes. I know she’s posing. Zack starts, “Oh yeah, babe. That’s it. Domination. I’m lovin it, baby.” I turn my head to my guests’s side of the ring. I squint my eyes, I see my best friends, Angie and Denise are holding each other. Angie is crying. Lisa and Meg, my tennis friends, are there. Their solemn faces are looking away. There is Beth from book club and Jennie from the Women’s Association. They can’t look at me either. They look like they’re at a funeral. My tribe lost.
“OK, let’s see another biceps shot, then do a thumbs down sign. Then point at her like you’re saying ‘Look at my trophy kill’,” Zack continues.
There are my neighbors, Val and her husband Jim, a gambler who organizes high stakes golf tournaments. “I put a lot of money on you,” he joked to me before the match. Or was he joking? There’s Big Heather from the gym. Finally, I look at Trey. We connect with our eyes. Then he looks…down. Dammit Trey, can’t you stay strong for me? Next, I see Beverly, from the club’s board of directors. Beverly? This is private. Who the fuck invited her? That backstabbing, gossiping, conniving bitch. She’s jealous of me. She’s enjoying this. I see that smirk. Why is she here?
“Come on, Jailyn, bring it out,” urged Zack. “Ya kicked her ass, man. Look at her. She was gonna do it to you.” He now addresses me. “Time to speak, princess. Answer this question. Who’s the better woman?……I remain silent. “Say it, who’s the better woman?”……I will not say it. “Are you hearing me? I said, ‘Who’s the better woman?’”
He repeats the question. “C’mon bitch,” he continues. “I’m losing my patience. All ya gotta do here is look at my girl and admit she’s the better woman.” I remain silent. I will not say it. I cannot say it. She can stand on my chest and pose all she wants. I have one last inch of my pride left. I will not give it to them. If I do, what is left of me? I bring myself to look up at Jailyn. She’s standing on me but hardly looks the part of the brazen victor. Her shoulders are hunched. She looks……uninspired.
“Ya can do this the easy way or ya can do this the hard way,” Zack grumbles at me with belligerence. All ya gotta do is tell Jailyn here she’s the better woman and we’ll let ya go…..I’ll count to three. One……Two……last chance, bitch…..Who’s the better woman? ……Three.”
“Jason, come here. I’m going to count to three.” My toddler son is having too much fun splashing in the tidal pool. The beach is windy and overcast this afternoon, but I’m not fooled. I know ultraviolet rays are deceptively strong on days like this. He comes to me all smiles. I place on his little hat and windbreaker jacket. My little boy. Your fair skin is too beautiful for the wind to chafe or the sun to burn. I will always be there to guide you, comfort you, protect you. You’re my happy place. I wish you could see yourself as I see you. Your bright blue eyes, soft blond hair, little nose. Your beautiful face……your face.
“Jailyn, sit on her face,” the man’s voice now sounding like pure evil. That goatee, that scowl, the scar. He looks like the devil. I feel paralyzed with horror. “Ooh, this gonna be good.” A chill runs through my entire body. I begin to hyperventilate. I can’t go through with this. I lose my composure. I’m sobbing. Tears roll from the side of my eyes to the mat.
“Can we stop, now? Let’s just go.” It was Jailyn. I had not heard her voice since the accident.
“In a little bit,” her man answered. “We’re not quite done yet.”
“I didn’t come here for this,” she implored. I just wanted a wrestling match.”
“ I’m gonna tell ya one more time, your opponent asked for the victory pose. She wanted to do it to you.”
“I didn’t agree to any of her changes,” Jailyn said with lament in her voice. “YOU did.”
After an awkward pause, the man responds. “But babe. Look what we’re getting out of it. Fuck, man. I’m rock hard right now. All right, let’s do this. You’re gonna sit on her. Y’know, sit on her chest and slide your crotch to her mouth.”
“I’m not doing that.”
“Hell yeah, man. Just get your pussy in there and show her who has the better womanhood.”
“All right, he countered, “let’s build up to that part. For now, let’s you and me have a make out session over your rich bitch.”
“No,”, Jailyn’s voice now stronger and defiant.
I remain in the position of the vanquished, flat on my back with my conqueror and her man standing on each side of me. The man reaches over me and grabs her head, bringing his face to hers, forcing a kiss on her lips”.
“Stop it,” she cries, pushing his head away. He tries again. She backs off, slapping at his hands. “I said STOP IT. This isn’t right.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you,” the man growled. “Ya keep yappin all this shit about finding yourself, potential, and whatever the fuck else. What the fuck do ya think ya are? Cause you’re just a fuckin nobody. Being my girl ain’t enough for ya?”
Jailyn assertively places her hands on her hips, raises her chin, and with a touch of courage in her voice, breathes, “No, it isn’t.”
The couple stand over me glaring at each other, their eyes blazing. The man glances down at me and breaks the uncomfortable silence. “What are you lookin at, loser? By the way, I saw half your pussy.”
“Leave her alone,” Jailyn demanded
“Are you fuckin kidding me?” Zack responds. More silence. “I can’t take you, anymore. I don’t know what the fuck you think you’re tryin to be, but it’s over. We’re done. I’m outta here.” Abruptly, he turns and walks away. Before exiting the ring, he turned to his girlfriend one last time and with eerie calm, spoke the most bone chilling words I’ve ever heard, “I’m warning ya, don’t come home.”
“Goodbye asshole,” she yells behind him.
I’m alone with Jailyn. She is on her feet. I am still submissively on my back. We lock tear stained eyes. Hers are soft. She awkwardly moves her hand towards me as if to offer helping me to my feet, then pulls it back in uncertainty. Jailyn wants to say something to me. It’s in her face. Her lips are attempting to say words. She’s struggling to communicate. Her eyes widen. It appears she wants to move but can’t. I no longer see a white trash bitch. Inside the pale, scrawny woman with scraggly black hair, and crooked nose and teeth is a brave spirit trying to break out. I see a survivor who has never taken a day in her life for granted. Our eyes stay connected for a few more seconds. Then, like a scared deer, she turns and scurries out of the ring.
I’m alone, lying in sweat and grime. I am now free to leave. I look at the ceiling lights one last time. A wave of shame floods over me. My emotions are still numb but they are starting to awaken. How will I deal with the humiliating defeat? And the victory pose? What will be the aftermath? And there’s a new kind of shame – a shame of what I am. The humiliation was my own doing. If Jailyn had her way, I’d be wearing wrestling gear and probably be shaking her hand. Tony tried to tell me. She wrestled a clean match. She never trash talked or taunted me. She came for an athletic contest. I made it into a sexually charged battle for female dominance. She came to compete against an opponent. I came to embarrass a tribe. I planned to humiliate her. She tried to protect my dignity. I was carnal. She was transcendent. In my bikini, I felt naked and ashamed.
Trey gathered me off the mat, quickly wiped me, covered me and took me home. We avoided talking to our friends as we left the gym. X-rays showed my ribs were bruised, not broken, but the pain lasted for four weeks. For days, I didn’t want to leave the house. Our friends didn’t know what to say which made awkward encounters. My status at the club slipped at first. Beverly gossiped far and wide about the match. Of course, in her version, I was brutally destroyed by a tiny woman in a one sided affair. Jailyn was variably cast as a prostitute, drug dealer or gang member. I’d deal with Beverly later. My emotions were a mix of hurt pride, indignity, anger at myself, and new respect for Jailyn. I worried if she was safe. According to Tony, she obtained a restraining order against Zack and moved into a new apartment. I was haunted by our final moments in the ring. What did she want to tell me? Tony said she asked for my phone number and wished to call me. I consented. Days went by but she never called. Then, one day, I received a card in the mail.
I don’t always speak well. I’m still dealing with PTSD from bad things that happened to me in the past. Writing is the best way for me to communicate. We both said mean things to each other at the accident. I guess we both lost our heads. We’re better than that. I hope we can put it behind us. I want to say thank you for the match. You didn’t have to do it. Combat sports has been part of my therapy. It helps me learn discipline and dealing with challenges in life. You’re a very good wrestler. You pushed me hard and taught me much. You have my gratitude. I’m sorry how Zack treated you. You didn’t deserve that. Just know that we’re no longer together. I’m excited about new chapters in my life. I know we have different backgrounds but it might be fun to meet up sometime. I bet we have more in common than we thought.
Wish you the best,
Jailyn, you are the better woman. I will never again be ashamed to admit that.
One year later, Jailyn was in the local news. She was awarded a $2.5 million settlement in a sex abuse scandal involving staff at a city-run boarding home when she was a teen. Two years later, she opened a Women’s Shelter funded by city and state grants and numerous corporate donors. Offering temporary housing, food, emergency services, medical care, counseling, and a 24-hour hotline, the shelter is the largest in the city. I keep in touch with her regularly and serve as a volunteer at the center. With her beautiful silky black hair, surgically corrected nose, and braces-straightened teeth, she’s a stunning woman. Her grace and self-confidence make her unrecognizable from the woman I first met. She tells me she’s not completely over her PTSD but it’s well under control. She’s even speaking publicly now, doing TV interviews and giving lectures on domestic violence and sexual abuse. She and her husband, a young paralegal, live in the suburbs and are expecting their first child.