"No hard feelings," I say to Gilbert as we get down out of the ring.
"He hurt your feelings?"
"No!" I'm unaware that everyone in the whole place has clustered around us, "I said, 'No hard feelings!'" Getting this sporting, casual, terribly calculated sentence out without sobbing was a Herculean task. That it might be misquoted into the girly observation that someone had hurt my feelings was, under the circumstances, intolerable. I'd rather bleed to death right here on the spot.
Gigo steps forward and starts unlacing my gloves. "What are you doing?" I ask him, suddenly embarrassed by everyone's concern. "It's just a nosebleed. I still have three rounds with the heavy bag."
"No, no," he says, yanking off the gloves. "You do the speed bag first. Better for you."
I glance around and am surprised by the expressions on everyone's faces: shock, concern, horror, dismay. There's something oddly funny about it. Next time I want everyone to know I'm hurt by a punch in the ring, I should bite down on a vial of fake blood, and presto! Instant sympathy! Oh, the tragedy reflected in these usually impassive faces, as they behold me with a bloody nose. Such outrage!
Just sitting here with a stained shirt, holding a soggy towel, I'm breaking everyone's hearts. People are taking turns pulling Dominick aside, talking go him sternly, shaking his shoulders when he shrugs them by way of responding. Arturo dodges in past Gigo and Gilbert and leans toward me, touching my arm. "Lynn! From now on, you spar with me, ok?" I smile and nod, amused that everyone thinks I'm about to quit, that I'll get up and stomp on out of here. At least three boxers have leaned in to tell me not to blow my nose, to just let it alone.