By: Jennie Fenix
Writing Prompt: Yes
Date: 12th Nov 2021
This was a huge match for her… Dickie Watson, the Empire Champion, going one-on-one with Jennie Fenix! Jennie was trained, and trained hard by her older sister and brother. The two of them were similar in the sense that they shared a pride for their family name; they shared a pride for their individual accomplishments… And then there was Jennie, who never seemed like she was taking it quite as serious, but that didn’t change the excitement she felt, or the jitters she got when it was announced that she would compete against the Empire Champion! Tara would likely kill her to take her spot.
Despite the match being scheduled to take place three days from today, Jennie found herself in Hartford, Connecticut. The door creaked open as Jennie used a key that Tara had given her to enter the premises; she knew that Tara was out of town, and figured she wouldn’t mind her stopping by. The moment the door creaked open, she could hear a chorus of barks as the dogs began stampeding their way down the hallway… Most of the pets were overjoyed to see Jennie, having caught a whiff of the scent familiar to them, and she entered the house quickly so that she would be able to close the door.
“My babies!” Jennie shouted as she knelt down in front of them and began alternating her hands between all of them. She continued to pet them for several seconds but still raised her head for her next thought, “Where’s Sabin?” She asked the dogs, but of course they were unable to answer. “SABIN!” Jennie shouted again, “Are you here?” The house was unusually quiet; Sabin was one of those people that would be up at the crack of dawn to take care of all the chores around the house, especially with Tara out of town.
Jennie got back up to her feet and ventured further into the house; she was half expecting Sabin to jump out at any moment to give her a scare, but there was nothing… She let out a heavy sigh, but one that was also filled with some content. Great… No one to tell me what I’m doing wrong. Jennie thought to herself, and smiled as she skipped her way through the house but she stumbled as she came to Tara’s office… The door was open, so she poked her head in and could see all of the pictures showing her past glory. The array of belts, the honors, the recognitions; there were even a few fan letters that she had framed on display. Tara, of course, did have pictures of her kids and family decorating her office space as well, but the ones that stood out to Jennie were just all of her accomplishments… There was even one picture on her desk of Tara standing with their brother, the middle child, as they both held their respective world titles.
Jennie scoffed and gave a half-hearted smile while she recalled that day; Tara had ascended to the top of one company, and Chris had ascended to the top of another. It was a joyous day for the Docherty bloodline, but there was still Jennie… without a belt.
One day… Jennie thought. She turned on her heel and continued down the hallway a few more meters, stopping at another door. This was the home gym belonging to Tara, filled with the state-of-the-art equipment that rivaled even the most professional gyms. She finally took her bag from her back and set it on the floor, then pulled her hoodie up and over her head and tossed it toward the couch; it fell just short. She was wearing a white tank top that wasn’t well-designed for strenuous workouts, but Jennie reached down and unzipped a pouch on her backpack to get out some of her clothes that were designed better for it. She walked into the room and closed the door behind her before changing inside, lost in her own mind as she did so.
If I can just go out there– I don’t even have to win– I just have to go out there and show that I can stand in the ring with someone like Dickie! I just have to show that I can go with one of the best… I just– I don’t know… I don’t know if I should be in this ring with him… I know that he runs with the likes of Betsy, James Raven, Shawn Warstein– and I know– Tara’s right… They don’t even know my name.
She couldn’t help but pout over that thought. She took a heavy breath, and held it for five to six seconds before slowly exhaling.
Not yet. Right? Not yet! But they will. Won’t they?
Fully dressed, Jennie began wrapping tape around one of her wrists while her eyes continued to wander. It was evident that she was in the middle of a conversation with herself, which happened more often than she liked to let on, but when you were alone with your mind, who else would you talk to?
Just… Just do it for you, Jen. I know that Miss Michelle has just been trying to tear you down, and that’s okay! You can’t let her do that! You can’t let them do that! But… are you in over your head? What are the odds that you think you can beat Dickie? I mean, he is the Empire Champion– Jennie shook her head again, –STOP THAT! And with that, her phone began chiming. She had just finished taping up her wrists, so walked over to the pants that she had just changed from and dug into the pocket to get her phone out. She could see FIGHT across the screen.
With a tap on the screen, and a second tap to put it on speaker, she held the phone in the palm of her hand and answered, “Go for Jennie!” she was able to answer with her general positive tone.
“Jennie? Hi! I’m calling from FIGHT…” Jennie couldn’t recognize the voice. She assumed it was just someone that was instructed to call on behalf of the upper management. She rolled her eyes over their greeting.
“Yeah, phones come with caller ID built in. I can see that!” Jennie answered with a certain sass in her tone.
The man on the other end chuckled before continuing, “Ah! Yeah! That’s right. Well, I just called to let you know that there has been a request to switch your opponent… To Shawn Warstein?”
Jennie’s eyes suddenly widened. It was a good thing that she was alone, otherwise anyone could tell just how fast her heart was pounding from that news; she began pacing back and forth at a rapid pace giving audible stutters as she tried to search for the words.
Why the replacement? Why so late? This was supposed to be against Dickie, the Empire Champion, and that– well, I really didn’t have any business being in the ring with Dickie anyway… But what business do I have to be in the ring with Shawn? Should I just– no, no. You can’t quit. You can’t leave. They wouldn’t be asking you if they didn’t think that you could handle this! But Shawn? Like… THE Shawn?
The silence from Jennie seemed to make the person on the other end uneasy, and he finally inquired whether Jennie was still there or not, “Jennie? Are you there?”
“Can you not hear me hyperventilating?!” Jennie shouted into the phone then quickly bit her lip awkwardly. Did I really say that out loud? You can save this! You can do this! Jennie nodded her head with a sudden surge of positivity and cleared her throat, “Yes. YES!” her voice cracked, and she cleared her throat again. “I’m here. You can tell Mister Warstein that it would be an absolute pleasure to compete against him in the ring! And that I hope he brings the good luck beanie I knitted for him. Because–“ Jennie suddenly hesitated… Don’t say it, please. Don’t say it. Do you really think he’s going to need it? Don’t say it unless you mean it! “–he’s going to need it!”
Jennie could hear someone chuckle behind her, and glanced over her shoulder to see Sabin, her nephew leaning against the doorframe with his arms across his chest. She didn’t even hear the door open. She shot him a scowl, and stuck her tongue out at him while he then gestured with his hands to protest his innocence. He remained silent while waiting for the phone call to end.
“That’s great, Ms. Fenix! You’re going to do great.” The man answered with a voice that sounded reassuring to her, but she was certain he was just trying to be nice while she took a big gulp.
“Thank you! Bye!” Jennie sounded as proper as she could, but didn’t wait for the farewell from the man on the other end before clicking her phone off and tossing it back into her pile of clothes. “What the fuck are you doing here?! Where’d you come from?!” Jennie finally blurted out at Sabin.
Sabin pushed himself off of his back heel, “I live here…” he answered in such a way as if to say duh. “I was just at mom’s sanctuary. Someone has to feed them.” Sabin subtly nodded his head and brought his hands to his pockets, “Warstein, huh? That’s a big one.”
“Yeah–“ Jennie said while turning away, and walking toward the punching bag in the corner of the room, “–but I got this. I can do this.”
“I never said you couldn’t…” Sabin retorted. He walked further into the room before finally getting to the punching bag, and stood on the other side of it to hold it steady while his aunt. “But there’s just a few differences between you and him…” Despite the words that came out of his mouth, the tone was very different; the tone oozed with confidence. He believed that Jennie could surprise everyone with a huge win that they had already counted her out of. Unfortunately, Jennie while jabbing at the punching bag seemed to zone out following those words.
I know, I know! He’s probably got all the same crap that Tara has… All the belts, all the recognitions, all the fucking honor, and what do I have? Potatoes! I have POTATOES! Jennie’s face scrunched and scowled as she seemed to focus on what she could. He’s a legend! And I’m just… not. I’m just living under a shadow. Even Sabin was doing better than me! And– I just really don’t know why I was letting it bother me… I made it clear, crystal fucking clear, that I don’t really care about the belts. I just want to have fun! If I’m not having fun, then why am I doing this? Why would I waste my time? I’m not wasting my time! I’m having fun, and truly… while I feel that I’m in over my head… I feel a thrill for it! I’m excited for it! I can’t wait! I was looking forward to fighting Dickie, but I’m looking even more forward to fighting Shawn.
“What is it about him that seems to draw you in?” Sabin asked, and cocked his head to the side seeing if he may have even hit a nerve for her.
“I don’t know…” Jennie answered while shrugging, and throwing a few more weaker punches, “He just seems like a fun person. I don’t know. I made them all beanies. And he’s very different from Tara–“
“Wait…” Sabin interrupted, “Are you saying Mom isn’t fun?”
“I did not say that Tara is not fun! I’m saying that they’re different! They came up from a different part of the business than she did. You have to remember that both of us pretty much learned this business strictly off of her… Do what she says, do as she says. Don’t tarnish the family name.” Jennie said with another roll of her eyes.
“What makes you think that she’s worried about any of that? What makes you think that you would even tarnish the reputation?” Sabin tried answering.
“I–“ Jennie stopped punching for a moment, “–I’ve never held a world title. I’ve never held a title! You’re still in your first year in the business and you’ve already come close to winning one. Tara and Chris both held belts in their first three months. And I’ve just… never held a belt. So in a way, I just feel like I’m letting her and Chris down. Even you. I just see… I see what you all can do, and I just don’t know if I can.” Jennie paused for a moment and thought about the situation that she had found herself in… “Like this… I’ve been training all week to fight Dickie. I’ve been watching tapes of old matches! I’ve been doing all the homework, and all the research. I’ve done everything that Tara has said we should do every time! Then BAM! Replaced with Shawn. And I know that if it were any of you, you wouldn’t even bat an eye… but I feel nervous… I feel like he’s going to eat me alive, because I just don’t feel prepared for him.”
“Truth be told–“ Sabin said, and Jennie slowed down her punches. She blinked a few times to bring herself back to the reality of where she was, while Sabin resumed, “–I think you have a little bit of an advantage over Shawn.”
Jennie stopped punching and mocked a laugh, “You should really consider comedy as your true calling.” She said and turned toward the dumbbells.
“I’m being serious, Tláak’w,” Sabin insisted, “You just have to play to a couple of your strengths.”
What strengths? Jennie asked him without having to say it aloud just by the look she shot at him.
“You’re unpredictable; I’ve seen you compete several times, and there’s really no indication of what you’re going to do… Personally, I don’t even think you know what you’re going to do. You just have that element about you that he’s not going to see what’s coming because you don’t know what you’re going to be throwing.”
That was an interesting way of trying to twist it into motivation for me… Jennie thought, before pulling two of the dumbbells from the rack. She began simultaneously curling each one for each repetition.
“But shouldn’t I… you know… plan each move?” Jennie asked. She looked like she had more to say, but Sabin quickly interjected.
“That sounds like a Mom thing to do,” he said with a smirk, “You’re not her. Don’t try to be. The key component that you have to make for yourself is that you learned from her, but that does not make you her. You need to take what she’s taught you, and transform it into your own. Trust me when I say that your strength is being unpredictable! If you see an opportunity: seize it! Take the chance! You have the moment… take it. Don’t think; don’t hesitate. Just do it.” Sabin made the statement clear for his aunt. She didn’t miss the cadence in her repetitions. “You’ve won four out of your last five matches–“
Jennie giggled, “I’ve only had five matches since returning.”
“And you’ve won FOUR of them!” Sabin repeated.
“But I lost the one that mattered… I really thought that I could have beaten Miss Michelle on the cruise, and taken my first championship, but she’s just– she’s good…” Jennie said and gave off her pouting expression.
“Yeah, she’s good, but don’t let her words even batter you down. Remember, she doesn’t want to lose that belt… She doesn’t want you to suddenly feel fucking inspired and get back in that ring to kick her ass, and end her reign! She’s going to drag you down. She’s going to kick you while you’re down. Because it sets in your mind that you are not good enough to beat her… But is that true?” Sabin spoke proud, and bold for his aunt, continuously trying to motivate her out of the hole.
“She did beat me…” Jennie answered.
Sabin just scoffed at the comment, “You can’t change that. You can’t let that get you down, right? Michelle beat you! Michelle retained her belt! You want it, right?” Jennie nodded. “You’re not going to get it by moping about, and you’re not going to get it if you’re under some delusion that Shawn Warstein is going to stomp you just because it’s Shawn Warstein! Like, you know you can take him. You know you belong in the ring with him, and you know you belong in the ring with Miss Michelle! FIGHT would not have signed you if they didn’t think that you could get in the ring with any of those people on any given day! They saw something in you that–“
“They saw my sister’s name.” Jennie said dejectedly.
“BULL! SHIT!” Sabin answered, even stepping forward and putting his index finger to Jennie’s face. “You were the girl that had to be held back when Angel was taking Edward away from us. You were the girl that challenged Michelle; you were the girl who stepped up to fight beside Chelsea Skye as a last minute replacement! So… don’t fucking tarnish yourself or who you are just because you think they care more about Mom then they do about you. They signed you, and they know that you’re going to be great.”
They did sign me, didn’t they? Vhodka was kind enough to lend me some– all– of her Blood Money to get a shot at Miss Michelle, and I let her down… I feel just awful for that. But I promise that I went out and did my best! I think… I know that Sabin is right. Vhodka would probably be more pissed at me if I didn’t bounce back from it. And what better way than to bounce back against my bestie? The smile returned to her face.
“There we go!” Sabin answered with a laugh, “Alright, so strengths that you have going into this… We’ve already covered ‘unpredictable’, but–“ He paused for a moment and tapped his finger against his chin, “–you are quite sassy.”
Jennie blinked her eyes a few times and had confusion written all over her face.
“What?” Sabin asked.
“I just don’t see how sassy can be a positive trait…” Jennie answered.
“It’s generally not, but there’s a way you do it that I think just… It does something. It speaks volumes of your confidence, and your spirit, which y’know… That’s something about you. I see this side of you; Tara sees this side of you; this insecure girl inside of you that feels that you’re not living up to your expectations when all I can say is that it’s in your head. You need to let that sassiness be what drives you in each match! Be bold! Be in their face! When you have them trapped, goad them. Taunt them. Get in their head. What we do– what you do– is so much more than the physical aspect. You need to get in their head, you need to be in their head, and then this next part is more important… You need to do it without either ‘a’, not letting them into yours, or ‘b’, don’t let them know they got into yours.” Sabin couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. “Three traits for you right there: unpredictable, sassy, and insecure.” Sabin clapped his hands together as if he were proud of himself for that distinction. “What about after Warstein? What are you going to do?”
Jennie licked her lips while contemplating for a moment… Let’s see… Part of this does depend on whether Atara can beat Pheely or not, because I could take a whack at her if not, but– Jennie shook her head, –I told myself that I was going to be the Bronx Champion, and that’s what I’m going to be! I’m going to be the Bronx Champion!
“Save my money and commit another bid to face Miss Michelle, if she can hold onto the belt for that long.” Jennie answered with a sense of pride in her voice.
“What is it about Michelle that just makes you want to go after her? What is it about the Bronx Championship that just seems to–“ Sabin stopped and rolled his hand as if to bring the word to himself, “–calls to you?”
“I don’t really know… I’m committed? I just narrowed down on a belt, and Miss Michelle looked like she’d be so much fun to face, so I took my best shot!” Jennie answered.
Sabin answered with a hearty chuckle, almost as if he didn’t believe that it was in fact Jennie’s best shot. To which he confirmed, “That was not your best shot! I know that you can dig deeper than that. Go longer than that. But for now this–“ Sabin gestured to Jennie working out, “–this isn’t you. This is all fine for later on, when it’s not such a beautiful day, but this… right now… no.” He turned to walk toward the door, and without looking back, shouted back for Jennie, “We’re going to work on that insecurity thing, but in the meantime, you need to get ready for Warstein. Let’s go play some paintball.”
“But I need to train…” Jennie said.
Sabin finally turned around at the door frame, and leaned against it again, “Cardio. Let’s go!”
I guess I couldn’t argue with that logic… It did sound like a lot more fun than wasting this gorgeous day cooped up inside! I pondered, just for a moment. Could I train like Tara? Should I train like Tara? Or should I keep doing what I’ve been doing? My arm strained for a moment as if my body were trying to tell me something that I should have already known. I put the dumbbells back down before rushing over and picking up my hoodie from the floor.
“Wait for me!” Jennie called out. She ran out the door behind her nephew, and turned to ensure the door was shut. End.