chapter 7

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Chapter 7

"I want you to" Ryan said.


"Come on"


"Why not?"

"Because it's stupid"

  Ryan moved in front of me so that he was walking backward in the road with his arms outstretched. My sword was jutting out the top of his backpack like a bone growing out the side of his neck. I stopped and crossed my arms.

"Hit me" he said.

 I shook my head.

"I just want to see how hard you can hit" he said.

"Quit bugging me or I'll really punch you."

"Yes, do it. Here" he said, showing me his palm like it was a catcher's mitt. "Put it here, right here."

     I looked into his hand and back into his eyes. He widened his stance and pumped his eyebrows, half smiling. My head flopped to the side as I sighed.

"Don't say, 'seriously'. Just do it" he said.

   I made a fist with my right hand.

"Tuck your thumb in or you'll break it" he said. "Now hit me."

  I pulled my fist back and jabbed at his hand. The contact made a satisfying slapping noise.

"How was that?" I asked.

   His shoulders slumped and he dropped his hand.

"Seriously?" he said in a high-pitched slur.

"Was that you trying to imitate me? Is that how I sound to you?"

"That was weak. I know you can do better" he said.

    He re-positioned his feet so he stood square to me and raised his palm. He wagged it, waving like the queen of England.

"Come on" said Ryan. "I want you to carry through this time. Don't just fling your arm. Put your weight into it, turn your hips. And don't aim for my hand. Aim at a target behind my hand. Punch through me"

"I can't"

"You can, think of everything that you've been through, all your anger and your fears, and let it all out"

"Oh, this is therapy now?"

"Yes, pretend my hand is your enemy"

  Pretend the hand was a Devida? Sure I can do that.

      My mind's eye saw Melanie, saw her fall. Saw the Devidas chanting. I clenched my fist, wound up, and struck out. My fist shot out, faster than I expected, too fast for me to soften the blow. The moment my knuckles touched Ryan's skin, I regretted it. He saw the speed and tried to pull his hand to absorb the punch. But bones in his hands cracked and the force sent him staggering.

"Oh my God" I said. "I'm so sorry"

  He clutched his broken hand and did a turn, like he dancing.


"Just a minute" he said.

   He massaged the top of his hand, as if he was pushing the bones back into place. Once he was satisfied, he turned to me with a bemused expression.

"All right" he said. "You are definitely stronger than I expected."

"I didn't mean to do that."

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