The Final Round – Brent Peters

Don stood opposite: a med student. Studious, serious, and awkward. He could navigate the textbook, classroom, and kitchen, but felt out of place among people. When with his family, he felt like a boxer in a wrestling ring. They had scripts, but he didn’t. Don heard the family brag about him in third person, but hardly felt the praise directed at him. They loved talking about “the future doctor”. They didn’t care about Don.

Jared was a beloved flop, while Don was an unlikeable treasure. Don was the first in the family to go to university, and the first to bring outside ideas into the insular community. They didn’t understand that he didn’t want to live there. There were no opportunities here, but to say so was taken as an insult against the family.

Jared, meanwhile, was fun. His unstoppable optimism kept made him great company. Jared read people, knowing how to talk his way through anything. People loved to talk to him, but not about him. He was just another loser. With his job and record, he might have been the biggest in the family.

This was Don and Jared’s oldest joke: “Put us together and we’re the ultimate disappointment.” When Don was at school, they spoke to each other more than anyone else in the family. They shared news about boxing. They watched matches together online. They anticipated games and set challenges for the fastest completion time.

The commercial ended. As an aerial shot of the venue filled the screen, Don’s attention snapped back to the TV. “Fight’s back!”

Jared returned to the sofa with two drinks. He passed a ginger ale to Don and stayed on his feet. Don stood to take it and remained standing as the fight began.

They drank in unison. The two connected on a wavelength of uncomplicated enthusiasm. They spectated and whooped through two more rounds.

As soon as the match ended, Jared said, “Alright, we gotta do a round of Tekken.”

“We play all the time,” Don laughed.

“In person it’s different, come on.”

“Alright,” Don said, “I can do a few rounds.”

They did as they’d always done. They bantered as they chose characters and selected a stage. Unconsciously, they leaned forward as the match began, falling into a zone of comfort and focus.

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  1. Kate says:

    Even knowing nothing about wrestling nor the video games mentioned, I was moved by this story. Brent captures the feelings of the characters very well and draws the reader into their lives. I look forward to more stories by him.

  2. Sherry says:

    Loved this short story immediately! I was gripped by the underlying emotions and sneak peaks of vulnerability in these two wonderful characters!

    Great job, Brent!

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