(Dried bark flakes and scatters as my fist impacts the tree. The thrilling sensation of pain that surges through my hand is familiar, like an old friend. A friend I never have to worry about letting me down. There's a certain amount of comfort in pain. I strike the tree again. My ears once more greeted with a symphony of broken wood. My face scraped at by bark ejected from its natural place by force. I can no longer tell how long I've been out in the woods training today. From the blood dripping off my fists, and the splinters of wood sticking out of my knuckles, I have to figure it's been quite awhile. With each hit the pain lessens. Most would find the numbness a benevolent blessing. I do not. I find it akin to nothingness. To the absence of feeling, therefore to emptiness. The absence of feeling is the absence of light. Of humanity. Of hope.

My legs are already weak. I spent my time doing kicks first just to see how long, and hard, I could punch without the strength of my legs. It'll make me stronger. Increase my stamina. Further my ability to do damage while exhausted. My limbs are numb and heavy at this point. Sweat rolls off of me from head to toe. Breathing is erratic. It's now that I find my arms unable to raise with any real strength. Muscles lethargic from strenous activity. They no longer comply with my mind's orders. My eyes practically glaze over as I look at the damage done to the front and sides of this tree. All week I've been wearing this living, yet inanimate fixture of nature down. Which of us is doing more damage to the other? I guess that is yet to be determined.

Still, I'm not done. I may be barely able to stand, or raise my arms, but they are not the limits of my arsenal. My shoulders tighten as I lean my upper body back. My vision blurs from exhaustion. Ignoring it I thrust myself forward, slamming my head into the tree. My legs falter a moment. Blood trickles down from my forehead. Another familiar sensation. I take a moment to steady myself and gather what strength I have left before slamming my head into the tree again with every ounce of energy I have left. Then, suddenly, I find myself looking up from the ground. My body lays in a heap at the base of the tree. I try to move, but my energy is depleted. Then everything goes dark. Always dark.)


(I stare at the drain of the shower. Watching with fascination as the blood and water mix while circling it. The heat of the water does nothing to ease the stinging of the wounds on my hands, legs, and head. Today was my last training session for the week. I've got to rest now so as to gain my strength back before I enter the ring monday. Great strides have been made and my work will bear fruit. My stamina will only continue to increase now. I close my eyes and enjoy the feeling of the water running down my scarred, nude form. It soothes me. The fluidity of the liquid's movement as it washes over me brings a sense of calm. Of oneness. Content solitude even. Makes me feel as if I'm a part of everything, and yet nothing at the same time. I lose track of time yet again. I'm snapped out of water's trance when it betrays me by going cold. So much for the peace I yearn for. Extending my arm I shut off the water and step out of the shower. I grab a towel and wrap it around me before stepping in front of the mirror.

Mirrors, at times, fascinate me. They have the ability to show the truth. Unfortunately they can also enhance the lies a person tells themselves. The dynamic of a mirror's duality is what I find so interesting about them. Gazing into the mirror now I can clearly see my tattered visage. The left side of my face reminds me of a patchwork quilt. Lines of scarring representing the thread that holds it together. The lack of massive scarring on the right side of my face contrasts with the left. Which of the two is my true face? This is a time when I could lie to myself and say one or the other. The mirror would reflect that lie and allow me to bury myself in it. That's not my nature. Instead I let it reflect the truth. Both sides of my face are my true face. It's like the physical manifestation of my inner struggle. The scarred half of my face is symbolic of my violent urges. The nature I'm trying to fight against. My monster side. The other half represents the opposing side in this. The goodness I know I have deep down. The part of me that wants to better myself and be rid of the curse I received by those who gave me life.

My mind wanders as I run a finger across my neck before my hand moves down and traces the thick webbing of scars that was once the top of my breast. I remember when I had to sew that part of my anatomy back together. Barbwire is fickle by nature. Sometimes it slices, sometimes it rips. That time it had ripped a chunk out. It took awhile to piece it back together. It was the same night I had to put my face back together. A smile forms on my face. For some reason I can't help it. I should be unhappy that the darker aspects of my nature have mutilated my body, but I'm not. I deserved it. Give into your inner demons and you become one. That's just how things work. That would make it a punishment. Something that should be considered penance in my mind, yet there's a sense of pride as well. I earned these scars. I earned the right to wear them. To be branded with these distinctive, fleshy honors. I will only gain more of them as I go. It's inevitable. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can stop me. Not till I find my peace. I long for its elusive embrace. My frustrations and fears are centered around the desire for it. I worry and wonder about how to obtain it. So many questions. So few answers. Deep down, though, I only have one true question about my search for inner peace....)

Will it take death to find it?