My mother had been a normal person, raising me in Cleveland, Ohio by herself. She loved me unconditionally, told me she always would. When I was little, she always made sure that I was careful when I played with the other kids on my block.

"Don't throw the snowballs hard," she'd say before I would head outside for a neighborhood snowball fight in the winter.

"Don't give soccer all that you have," she would warn before I would go to one of my childhood soccer tournaments.

I never listened to her. I always thought that her telling me to hold back was her way of telling me to let people boss me around. I rebelled. I threw and kicked and worked as hard as I could. I always had to prove her wrong. I had to make her know that I was stronger than she knew, that I could take care of myself and then some. I gave my all to my kick boxing classes. I had to prove her wrong. I had to. I'd come home sweaty and tired from class and school with my hazel eyes still on fire, despite how tired and worn out I felt, and I'd look at her in a way that told her I was right.

She'd just smile when she saw me, shake her head. "Just like your father," she would say, and then tell me to go drink some milk and eat something healthy and watch CSI with her. I never said I hated my mother. I just said I enjoyed proving that I was right when it came to my strengths. I strong for my age, but nothing weird or out of the oridinary like my mother seemed to be anticipating.

When I was fourteen, bordering on fifteen, things changed, though, because I found out that my mother had been right all along.

It had been after my first homecoming dance, my freshman year. I stumbled out of the gym, hot, sweaty, and dizzy. Crowds often did that to me. I took a deep breath of the cold fall air and sighed, grateful for the fresh air.

"Well hey there, pretty girl," some one murmured behind me. My slender 5'7 frame whirled around in surprise. It was Jack.

"Oh, hi," I said, grinning at my crush. But then I winced, smelled the air. "You been drinking?"

"A little," he said like it was no big deal. But for me to smell it on his skin was a big deal. It meant he'd been drinking way more than he was supposed to. Not that he was legally supposed to at all, but you get my point. "You feel like going under the bleachers?" Jack was straightforward, at least. I shook my head.

"No thanks. I'm gonna stay out here. Get some air."

"Aw come on, Andri," he crooned, slurring my name. I took a step away from him.

"No thanks," I repeated.

"You know you want to."

"Look, douche bag, I said no," I replied, getting angrier. I had liked Jack for his good looks. He wasn't used to getting turned down. He grabbed my wrist and looked at me.

"Don't be a bitch, Andri. Be a big girl and come on," he said, starting to drag me towards the bleachers. My anger roared.

"Get off me," I ordered. "Get off me before I kick your ass!"

"Pfft, like you could do that. Look a you. What do you weigh? Ninty pounds tops?" he said, looking at me in my black homecoming dress and heels. "You couldn't take down a toddler, honey. What makes you think you can take me down? I'm the freaking Judo captain."

There it went again. Some one saying I couldn't do something. It had the same effect as my mother's warnings and pleads to hold my strength back, only this insult, this saying I couldn't do shit, got to me deeper than any of my mother's comments ever had.

"True," I said, like his statement didn't bother me. He started to drag me again, like I was giving in. I would never give in. I glared at his head and launched my attack when he was hopefully least expecting it. "But you're not me."

And then I socked him in the face with all my might, putting my entire body into the punch like I learned how to from years of kick boxing class. I punched his jaw once, with all the sudden anger and hate I felt towards him and his stupid arroagance. It was supposed to just shock him, maybe hurt. It was supposed to make him let go so I could go inside and stay there until I knew he was gone.

But that wasn't exactly how it went down.

His grip was ripped from my arm as he went flying through the parking lot and into a Chevy truck, leaving a dent in it and setting off the car alarm that no one would hear over the loud music inside. His head and mouth were bleeding, but I didn't care. I swaggered over like I was the hottest bitch this side of where-ever the hell Angelina Jolie lived, standing in front of him. He looked up at me. Several of his teeth were missing. I doubted he'd ever be good-looking again.

"H-how?" he wondered. For a minute, I looked down at him like he was the most pathetic little bitch on the planet, which he was.

But then it hit me when a girl came outside to sneak a smoke.

"OH MY GOD!" a girl screamed. I whirled around. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM, YOU FREAK?!"

I looked down at him. Bleeding, coughing, broken jaw. I looked at my hands, frozen for a minute. My mother had been right.



I ran all three miles home without stopping. My feet left dents in the cement.