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Lightweight

by Brett Biebel

I was supposed to marry this girl whose brother won a Division III wrestling title, and she took me to see him once, at some big meetup near St. Cloud. He made weight at 133, and, honestly, he didn’t look like much. Like a cornstalk, maybe. A ribbon of interstate late at night, and the reflective paint is hitting your face in strips, and he had the first kid he saw on the mat in about twelve seconds and then stared at the two of us up there in the bleachers like we were insects, crepuscular moths or something, and, later, between bouts, I was eating a hot dog, and Melissa was in the bathroom, and he came over to me and started talking about atoms, about how many there were in the human body and how they were all changing all the time and moving all across space, and he said somewhere inside him was this tiny piece of Hannibal Barca’s dying breath, and he could channel it at will, he said, and everything felt static for a minute. Palms slapped foam. Bodies collided. Somebody was limping away from his match, and I could feel the bun collapsing in my hand, and now his face looked more like an exam, a word problem or a blue book, and I don’t know what I said, but it wasn’t anywhere close. It must have been as wrong as anyone can possibly be.

Brett Biebel teaches writing and literature at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. His (mostly very) short fiction has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, the minnesota review, The Masters Review, Emrys Journal, and elsewhere. 48 Blitz, his debut story collection, is available from Split/Lip Press. You can follow him on Twitter @bbl_brett.

Lead image: “1973 Wrestling Match” (via Flickr user bruce frick)

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