She knew the signs: his knuckles slowly getting whiter, his steps a little slower, his eyes narrowing to the pitiless concentration of the street fighter.
But he was so young, and yet always ready, his fists tight in his pockets: how could she not admire him, her virgin champion…
He, had only eyes for her, and otherwise his work, the training, his ambition for the ring, but this was a time when he would have to fight, for her.
Slowly he turned round and faced the man who had just insulted her: a massive guy probably used to have his way: now he was calm, fearless, weighing where the first blow would fall…
So she spoke the words, her voice smoothing the dense mist of his anger, she sensed him collect himself, and then hit, a single blow, on his lips the smile of the victorious samurai…
The long corridors were dark and threatening, and he was so small: the tall windows did not let any light in, the ancient floors creaked menacingly.
He clinched his fists, thought of his mother, of the sweetness of being close to her, and, now, of the pain of being so far away – for how long?
In the courtyard he was at first frightened by the other boys, so noisy, looking so much older than him, then he realised they were looking at him, respectfully.
He was one of the smaller boys, but also so fast, and then, his fists: he had to fight once, and then there was peace, although he was punished, for four Sundays, sweeping the floors, doing the chores, but left alone.
He was not lost there, he’d fight his way, the way of the Samurai. Alone.