Thursday, June 16, 2011

505 - The Fulcrum of that Point

I stare through the leather bars of the training helmet.  I, Jorasa Mahid... and my friends... get to prove to the Senior that we can do this.  All of everyone who is left is in the seats.

The doors are locked to give us our privacy.  My blood is thundering in my ears.  When Amitza and I first tried it, and then requested Eforasa to join us, it seemed a lot easier.  This is too exciting, almost.  I remind myself that Joras might be good on skates but he’s never played.  Not on the team… perhaps casually with his training group years and years ago.  At thirty-two, he’s old.  And Borasa is almost as old as he is.  When would she have learned?

Even if they look impressive… all right, Borasa can skate.  Where did she learn?  That… is a Hayel of a good wall flip.  I remind myself that we’ve trained hard before the others sent me to request recognition.  

The three of us had discussed if we should confess and try to get official support.  We’d sat over kaf after our dance training and discussed it.  I’d drawn the short slip of paper when we three agreed, so I had to go speak to the First Wife.

Don’t get intimidated. I tell myself.  Joras has power, true.  But we have speed.  We’re fast.  I know we are fast.  And if we are the remnants of the black dogs… it’s not the sex nor the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of fight in the dog.  We… the Mahid… deserve some kind of chance to take the Muunas Eye again.  It might be years till we are trained enough but we can do it.

The lamps seem brighter, shine hotter, even deep in the Marble Palace under the pile of stone.  I’m sweating and impose control on myself.  When I was married to 7th Ilesias it was a matter of not showing anything at all, of course; being the perfect Mahid woman, stone all the way through no matter what.

Since it is three on two we are going to play by ‘pick-up’ rules, though the way Joras is grinning I warn everyone to expect full hits and they acknowledge with sideways flickers of eyes, also through their helmets.  I skate out to meet Joras in the middle.  I raise my fist and our wrists cross and we spin once, twice, three times around the fulcrum of that meeting point.  He’s strong.  But I think he’s surprised at how strong I am.  We are fast.  We know how to work as a team already. Those are our strengths.

2nd Inensa acts as referee and places the disc in the centre of the bowl as we spin away from each other.  Our teams are waiting on the lip as he and I go to opposite ends under our own goals and stop.  Everyone stops.  She holds up her clenched fists in the air and Joras and I both sink back on our heels, tensing.  The world is unfocussed so I can watch both him and the disc but I’m aware of his eyes on me, rather than the disc.  That’s a mistake Mahid man.

I feel like everything is still. My breath does not stop.  The books say ‘don’t hold your breath’. It is hissing between my teeth. Second Inensa snaps her fists down and I’m off digging hard, dodge just barely under his reaching fingertips and snatch up the disc. Close enough to feel his snatch on my back, just barely out of grabbing range.

Amitza is already off to my left and Eforasa on my right.  No goal keeper.  Borasa is on me. I pass to Amitza, Joras is on her and she passes to Eforasa who fumbles the catch on the wall, Borasa snatches the rolling disc and passes to Joras I have a clear check and hit him hard with my shoulder.

It’s like hitting a wall but I do stagger him enough to get the disc away from him and we spin down the wall and across and I spin-turn and pass to Eforasa who is setting up.  Borasa tries to catch her and is just behind her as she flip-turns at the lip and on the upwards arc of her flight she smashes the disc through the paper covering their goal slot.  First shot… Their goal is open.

They have yet to breach ours.  Ours still gleams white and smooth.

I celebrate us opening their goal, smacking E and A with my gloved fist as they sit. We’re all sweating.  But we can’t stop.  The rest of the family are watching and we have to prove that we have the will.  The whole world becomes and is the rumble and swish of black wheels on steel and the leather disc in our gloves, that grows heavier with every pass. 

Rest break is called and I am startled.  Have we been going so long?  I hadn’t realized but I’m gasping for breath and my chest is on fire and sweat is running into my eyes.  I swoop up to our bench and pull off the helmet, pour water over my head and into my mouth.  The watchers swim into focus in the gallery seats above and I try to see if the Senior has any expression at all.  Of course he does not.  I can’t sit down, I’ll stiffen up.  My ankles in the boots have a blister.  I’d thought I’d gotten the bracing, the padding right.  I shall have to re-do it.

The whistle calls us back into the bowl... I win the snatch the second time and I pass and Joras smashes into me hard enough to make the world spin.  But I passed the disc before he hit me.  I smack the floor hard enough to knock the wind out of me and I think my nose is bleeding, smacked against the inside of my helmet.  My ears are ringing, but the disc is still in play and we have to get possession…

Play is called and Joras must sit out his foul.  Eforasa is holding one arm pressed tight to her side, I’m not sure if it’s a pulled muscle or something more serious but she’s still ready to go and the three of us share a flash of smile.  It’s not sweat on my face, my nose is bleeding.

The three of us hit Borasa hard and Amitza seizes control.  We pass the disc around till I have the set up and come down the one wall, across to the goal corner, hurtle into the air and I can see the ceiling up above my feet, the goal is like a radiating fire behind me and I draw the line in the air, in my mind, from the disc to the slot and hear the other women singing the goal descant as my legs reach and I make the landing and brake to a stop on the floor.  Amitza unbends enough to hug me for a fraction of a click before we regain our decorum.

“Time.” 2nd Inensa calls.  A pick-up game is very, very short.  I am so tired I can’t see without blinking tiredness out of my eyes.  I need to gain stamina if I am to learn to play properly.  My bloody nose has trailed all the way down into my collar and I sniff.

“Here, girl.”  Borasa glides over and hands me a towel.  She has a bruise coming up on one cheek.  An errant elbow when we checked her to take possession.

“Thank you, Senior.”

“Players,” Amitzas calls from the gallery, as he turns to the stairs down.  “Attend.”

We push off a lot more slowly than when playing and work back and forth across the bowl a few times to make the lip-jump.  I feel like my hunched grandmother; as if Joras has hammered all over my body with a wooden mallet.  I feel wonderful.  It was grand.  I want to play again.  I want to find out if I can take Joras out in a side check, sometime.  In front of an audience it’s even more fun than merely pretending.  The late night practices are one thing… this is so much better.

Please, Selinae, whisper in your Husband’s ear.  Let us play.  Let us really train.

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