Entry Nickname: She Wears Bruises Like Trophies
Title: Lucky Punch
Word count: 71,000
Genre: Adult Contemporary
After two years in a veteran’s outreach program of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), widowed military veteran Poppy Leon is slowly rebuilding her life. She strives to be a great single parent to her son Milo, despite suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), after almost losing her life in a mortar attack in Iraq.
With an unbeaten MMA record Poppy’s career is skyrocketing, and her relationship with her five-year-old son has never been better. But a vicious blow to the head during a match triggers a flashback, and Poppy loses control, nearly killing her opponent. She’s immediately plunged into a mental and physical nightmare. Unable to function, Poppy lashes out at those she loves the most, including Milo.
Despite the resurgence of her PTSD Poppy tries desperately to hang onto the sanity that MMA has given her. But when she grabs Milo too hard during a school function, the safety of her son is questioned when the authorities arrive. If she doesn’t get herself together and Marine-up, Poppy knows losing a match is the least of her worries. But what was once her most cherished outlet soon has her reliving her past trauma with every strike and blow. Poppy must decide between Marine and Mother if she's ever going to give her son and herself the life they both deserve.
The tent was in flames. Poppy felt like she’d been thrown against a concrete wall. Sand filled her mouth, and her head was splitting apart. All she could think was, move! Tears streamed from her eyes as she opened them, and rough hands grabbed her and dragged her from the tent.
Poppy fell to the ground next to another Marine and watched in a haze as her savior ran back into the tent to bring out anyone left inside. She choked as she inhaled an acrid breath.
She looked around, the ringing in her ears increasing, and brought a hand to her face and wiped her eyes. In slow motion the smoke cleared and the clatter of a .50 caliber machine gun sang a song in the distance. She heard herself asking the question, what happened, in a voice that didn’t sound remotely like her own. She brought her hand up to her head, grimacing as she felt something sticking out of her skull. She'd felt safe when she'd taken off her battle rattle. Poppy leaned over and retched into the sand.
She crawled over to the body next to her, putting a shaking hand on the Marine’s neck to feel for a pulse, but not even a whisper beat against her bloodied fingers. Poppy drew her hand away and felt herself up. Head: mostly intact, but the rest of her she wasn’t so sure about. She looked around, wondering who was in charge. Then she remembered: she was.