Learning how to speak

At thirteen I almost killed another boy.
If I’d been at school I’d been expelled and sent to juvie.

For me it meant a slap on the wrist from coach Billie
“Defend yourself”
“Hit harder”
“Don’t be such a little girl”

I excelled and reached the top, but when I met my bitch I didn’t know what words to say. She tried to teach me, but at the end I only knew the language of my fists.

From the prison window I can see the sky, and cries, but with night I’ve taught myself these words.

I wonder who’ll listen.

© J Hardy Carroll[/caption

Being a coward of a boy I preferred to keep out of fights. I can clearly see that in some cases boxing can be a way for those more inclined to fight to keep themselves out of worse things. However I think there might be things that can happen later. Words are even more important and the coaches have a lot of responsibility to foster the young boys.

Rochelle selects the example. We at Friday Fictioneers follow and write to the same image. No more than hundred words, and I try to do it in exactly one hundred.

February 28, 2018

69 responses to “Learning how to speak

  1. When my son David was five, his gross motor skills were pretty bad and a friend suggested getting him into martial arts. I enrolled him in Tae Kwon Do. The owner and instructor was very family oriented and David took to him and the training right away. Eventually, all three of my kids went. When we moved from California to Idaho, they elected not to continue at a new Dojo, but there’s nothing wrong with learning discipline and self-defense as long as you also learn not to be a bully.

  2. This is an awesome story. What a fabulous hook in the opening: “At thirteen I almost killed another boy.” Love the ending: “but with night I’ve taught myself these words. I wonder who’ll listen.”

  3. This is beautifully told, Bjorn. If we don’t teach our youth how to be kind to one another, how will they? And I, too, think you’re first line is a fabulous hook.

  4. How many boys are brought up this way? Very well done.
    Maybe change your “If it’s” to “If I’d”…

  5. I wonder did the boxing teach him to hurt her in this way, or wasn’t it something that was in him already and would have happened anyway? Intriguing character piece.

  6. Well done. I like the way you structured it. The only language he could understand was the one perpetuated by his coach. I wonder if his situation would have been different if he hadn’t looked at the woman and just considered her a “bitch?”

  7. Almost like the Mike Tyson story. Young kid who saw nothing but violence and used that in a ring as means of escape. Packs a punch.

  8. The tacit pressure on males not to appear cowardly is always something that’s preoccupied me. It’s not something the female of the species necessarily has to deal with – though some do. Conversely, the innate tendency to aggression, again something present in the majority of women is equally fascinating. This was a good piece of writing, Bjorn.

  9. Violence for some people is like an addiction, they don’t know how to respond in any other way. a thought provoking piece of writing – a good read.

  10. You don’t have to be a boxer or any other kind of athlete to be abusive. There is excellent discipline, if the coaching is good, especially in martial arts. Sad story here, and one that becomes a reality too often.

    • “You don’t have to be a boxer or any other kind of athlete to be abusive.” That’s true, Linda. However, it’s equally true to say that many other pastimes instil discipline and hard work – music, for example. Why do we need to build discipline in a violent format?

      • Good question. I think boxing is just barbaric. Never have understood why anyone would want to do it, watch it, coach it. You’re right. Lots of other way to learn discipline.

  11. Loved the way you wrote this story, Bjorn, with its inevitable acceleration from nearly killing someone to actually murdering his wife. But you also show that the real way to deal with such violence is to address its roots by giving the violent man a voice with which he can express his emotions. Your MC had no language of love, which almost certainly means he experienced little love as a child which is a form of child abuse. However, I’m glad you ended your story with a note of redemption, with the MC learning some emotional language and hoping to save others with it.
    Great writing!

  12. I have to agree with others – this is a cracking opening line and if you used it in a novel I wouldn’t be able to stop reading! A sad tale – so much between the lines you haven’t written but we can deduce. A violent man who wants to change, but can he? Great story Bjorn

  13. Such a sensitive tale. I wonder if his life would have turned around if he’d been treated differently when 13. You give us a whole life and so much more to think about in these 100-words.

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