My fight opens with me making a series of ineffective lunges and haymaker swings toward my opponent. He easily dodges or blocks each one, and he responds to each one with a hard punch in my belly.
Each of these counterpunches makes me recoil and grab my belly. But he holds his fire and lets me recover myself and go at him again. And again he baffles me and whomps me in the stomach. These jabs to the belly take their toll on me, and soon I'm puffing and wheezing and weak.
She knows he is doing this to impress her. It angers her against him. But another part of her is turned on by it all.
That's when he gives me the big uppercut in the stomach. That does it. As someone calls out "bellyslammer!" and they all laugh and cheer, I grab my belly and "OOF" out loud and body-rock up and down convulsively while my wobbly knees try to move me away from him. I lose balance and dash to my knees, body upright, still gutpunched and lost in a bellyache.
He walks in front of me. Wide-eyed, I clench my hands and hold them up in a begging gesture. But he mercilessly kicks me in the belly. Black boot to white belly. My whole body jolts, freezes, wide-eyed, and then I pitch forward, face-down, belly-first. And quickly I flop over onto my back, writhing and shaking, stomach thrust up, arms and legs fish-flopping, in the helpless zombie-dance of the winded.
... wind knocked out of me ...
The necessary other-half of the humiliation belly-punch. I let myself get so vulnerable that she saw a man square his arm and ram his fist straight into my helpless belly. And it stripped all the self-control from me, and made me a physical fool in front of her.
That specific and humiliating way I responded to the shock and body-panic of a sharp punch in the stomach. The potbellied, kettle-drum impact thud, then the clownish OOF! sound I make.
Then the achingly long seconds of my breathless silence. The full throes of it, when my diaphragm just won't budge to let my lungs draw air. That frozen, dying feeling. The spear of pain that he lunged into my stomach transfixing me, crucifix and san sebastian in one pose, pinned bug. Every second it goes on adds a lead weight to my humiliation. Every second I lie there stunned and gape-mouthed, tear-streaming, unbreathing, the brand burns deeper into my belly.
The brand is her gaze, whether she wills it or not.
Finally I draw a breath, but a scant one, and quickly bleated back out. And so it goes, breaths coming more rapidly, but my bellyache still owns me, and I can only grunt and bray and make sour faces -- uuuh! ooooouu!
All that from one punch right in my belly. Even if it was a cheap shot, a boy's supposed to be able to take one or two stomach punches, or at least recover quickly from them. But there I am, still down and belly-punched, long past a count of ten, if there had been one. The panic possessing me, my body writhing in embarrassing tortured poses I would never allow her to see me assume. A head-to-toe picture of complete male failure.
She's not a bad girl. Really. She tells herself. To like this, a little? She looks at me and knows, pityingly, that I'll always be shy of her because I am ashamed that she watched me get my belly beat up. That's what a nice girl would feel, right? A girl that's not a bully's slut.
My belly is right there when he takes his victory stomp/pin.
Before he's finished with me, he's given me a nickname -- oof-belly. And that's what he and his gang will be calling me, loudly and publicly, for a few days at least, until they tire of mocking my belly and move on to some other sport. I hope. Meanwhile the other girls who did not see the fight, will hear them taunt me and go ask her what it's all about. And she will retell it in detail many times. Some will want to hear it more than once.