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Diagnosed Preview

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

One. Two. Jab, cross. Three. Four. Hook, rip. Five. Six. Uppercut, uppercut.

She repeated the simple combination as she delivered each powerful blow to the punching bag that hung in front of her. The sounds echoed through the building as she continued. Determined, she kept attacking with brute force, blow after blow until a shortness of breath brought her to a halt. She took a few seconds to catch her breath as she stared at the bag. It started to leak sand.

Drops of water pelted the building slowly, then steadily became faster, harder, louder. The rhythm was steady. She closed her eyes and listened, mesmerized. She relaxed her shoulders, and her breath became calm.

“You still here?” said Ace as he walked out of the room in the back corner. His hand towel rested on his shoulders.

She looked over at him. “You still here?”

He looked up and at the portrait of the two men on the wall behind her. In the photo, they stood back-to-back with their arms folded.

Zion pulled up to the gym and waited by the curb. Candie walked over and got in the passenger’s side. She put her seatbelt on and waved to Ace.

Ace nodded back to her and walked away. He turned down the side of the gym, which led to the alleyway.

Zion looked over at Ace, then at Candie. “You were sparing with Ace? Haven’t seen him around in a while.”

“No, he was doing his own thing,” she said.

“Was it just you two again?” he asked.

“Yeah, we’re the only ones left who’s not scared to go inside.”

“Why don’t you just sell the gym? It’s draining your step dad’s money to keep it open. Not to mention, it’s not his gym. Then we can really travel. We’ll have the money to do it. And you won’t have to worry about keeping up the gym.”

“Because it’s a memory of my parents and Ace’s parents. And Darell’s got it to give. That’s why he offered to pay the bill in the first place.”

“Just because someone offers, doesn’t always mean you should take,” he said.

“Then he shouldn’t have offered,” she rested her head against the window and closed her eyes.

She looked around her dark room in a slow motion. Blank walls connected with a sea of destruction. Books new and old crowded her room. Some untouched, some with ripped pages scattered across her bedroom floor. She looked at her closet, her bagged clothing items peeking out from the far end of the closet.

She ran her hand through her hair to move it out of her face. She propped one of her legs up under the covers and rested her elbow on it. She stared distantly at her bedroom opening.

A memory played in her mind and she watched as it visualized in front of her.

“Hey, Can, you okay?” he leaned in the doorway and looked at her. “You should come to the gym with me. Ace will be there.”

She rested the top of her head in her hand and continued to look at the opening “I’m fine,” she said, answering the memory out loud.

“You don’t look fine.”

She balled her hand into a fist, her head still leaning against it. “You always say that,” she said.

“You also always say you’re fine. Come on, let’s go get some vitamin D.”

“I’m fine,” she said again, climbing out of bed and stretching.

“You’re beautiful,” he said.

“I love you, Dad.”

“Happy birthday.”

“Thanks. I wonder if anyone else remembered.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

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