The fighter breathed in slowly in the darkened locker room.
His eyes drew to the hallway down which the arena loomed.
He’d trained for this very moment for innumerable days.
He let his breath out slowly as he also dropped his gaze.
His past had come to haunt him; or rather, his father’s did.
It was in the old man’s shadow that up ‘til now he hid.
He rose from the wooden bench as he slammed the locker door.
His mind was clear and focused as he slowly crossed the floor.
His father was a great man; one of the best there’d ever been.
He’d proudly held the people’s flag for years and years on end.
The women and children’s love he kept, the men’s respect he’d earned.
But even a champion’s fire burns out; a lesson he finally learned.
And now his boy had come of age, his turn had come at last
To earn the title for himself, to honor his father’s past.
Any time he’d walk the street the people called his name.
They smiled as they recalled his dad and said “You’ll do the same!”
He heard them calling for him as he traveled down the hall.
His pace was slow and steady as cheers echoed off the walls.
But as he plodded down the corridor that led down to the ring,
The distance to his destination got further, so it seemed.
He started to jog faster ‘til he ran as if he fled.
The image of his father was burned into his head.
As he neared the final door that led to the battleground,
He’d realized he could no longer hear the cheering of the crowd.
He swung the door wide open and he stepped into the light.
Instead of the cheering fans expected he saw a very different sight.
The crowd was filled with anger, spitefulness, and scorn.
The faces that used to smile at him now a scowl wore.
The booing increased with every step as he approached the field.
He looked across at his opponent who rose up from his kneel.
The enemy wore full armor and a horned helmet on his head.
He lifted his oddly-shaped sword. “I’ve looked forward to this”, he said.
The warrior that stood before him was the one who’d succeeded his Pa.
The boy took his battle stance, he set his eyes and jaw.
“I’ll prove them wrong,” he determined, “Today’s my day to shine!”
The crowed fell deadly silent ‘til they heard the air horn whine.
The boy immediately charged the knight, his weapon flashed to life.
The knight was ready for the attack and deflected with his knife.
“Is that all you have?” The knight laughed. “I expected more from you.”
The knight lunged with his weapon aloft, the boy’s head which to hew.
The boy quickly dodged the strike with blindingly quick speed.
“One thing you didn’t count on: my Pa wasn’t quick like me!”
He continued to rush around the ring, too fast to keep track,
Until the knight took a well-aimed swing that knocked him on his back.
Light was all that he could see as he lay there on the floor.
The knight drew near and placed his blade upon the boy’s core.
He kneeled down next to him, and with a look of sadness in his eyes,
He said, “I’m… disappointed.” And then began to rise.
The air was still in the Colosseum and the knight just turned and walked.
The seats were slowly emptied. No one dared to talk.
The boy just lay there on the mat. He knew everybody’d left.
One word stuck in his heart, and like a foil it cleft.