What It Means to be Strong
Posted on 04/24/23 at 4:32am by Kohime Mori
Event: ReVival 27
The switch flipped on, basking the bedroom in soft light. There she was, standing in the doorway; broken, battered, defeated. Kohime Mori had nothing. No Alias Title. Couldn’t even last halfway through the Culture Shock Battle Royal, let alone win it. It was a humbling night. It was an embarrassing night. Before she had left the arena after her elimination, Mori decided to embrace her misery. She had managed to find a crowbar the production team must have made use of earlier in setting up the show.
She felt the weight of the carbon steel as she picked it up. This would do. Mori had made her way to the designated parking area for the talent. It didn’t take her long to find Morty’s car. The rental was a piece of crap. That didn’t stop her from worsening its condition. Kohime released her rage; The shattering glass, the hiss from the punctured tires… It was so very gratifying. At least, it was at the time. She let the tool hit the ground with a *THUD* as she hobbled over to her bed.
Kohime roughly shoved the various stuffed animals that occupied space on her mattress to the side. She ripped the covers back, slowly climbing in. Mori didn’t bother getting changed out of the black t-shirt and track pants she was wearing. She slid the phone out of her pocket, laying flat and looking up at the device. As she scrolled and tapped, her face twisted into a sneer; that stupid jackass Tony Gamble was back at it on Jabber.
Mori’s fingers flew around the surface of the phone rapidly. Why can’t he just shut up?! Why does he always have to run his stupid mouth?! It finally happened. Between every other misfortune she had suffered through this weekend, his words got to her… She snapped. Kohime said things she never would have said. She wished personal injury on Gamble. She was vulgar. She said incredibly unflattering things about Mortimer, who wasn’t even around to defend himself.
Mori just didn’t care. She was fed up. The only victory she had from the weekend was eliminating Tony from the battle royal and he even whined about that. It didn’t even feel like a victory. After all, Gamble thrived on negative feedback. He craved that kind of attention, the vitriol and disdain seemed to fuel him forward. Kohime wrapped herself up tightly in the covers. She could feel the tears stream down her face, soaking her pillow.
Growing up, Mori had worked so hard to do her best to keep herself from crying in front of her tormentors. Seeing her cry would be a victory for them, after all. They’d know they got to her, that they hurt Mori. Sure, it didn’t take much back then. It still didn’t take much nowadays. But she had really tried to keep that pain hidden. This was different. She wasn’t crying just because someone was mean to her. These weren’t just tears of sadness.
Extreme irritation. That’s what this outpour of emotion was about. Kohime didn’t usually feel this way. It made processing things hard for her. The car vandalism was an effect of that. It didn’t make what she did right. Mori was fine with whatever consequences she would face for her actions. Do the crime, pay the fine. If anything, she felt even more frustration that she couldn’t tap into such feelings when it mattered. She needed to find an actual constructive way to harness this moving forward.
It wasn’t a restful sleep. Any time Mori rolled onto her back, the sharp pain in her skull caused her to immediately roll back. That wasn’t even accounting for being in the ring for as long as she was in the battle royal. Kohime had hoped her physical exhaustion would be enough to knock her out, to rest and forget the world for six to eight hours. None of it helped. Sitting up in her bed, Kohime looked over at her stuffed animals.
As a child, these were sometimes her only friends. That was true even today. She looked at Mr. Cuddles. He was face down, one arm out to the side while the other was twisted behind his back, one leg straight while the other was trapped beneath him. A frown spread across her lips while her eyes squinted ever so slightly. He didn’t deserve his rough treatment the night prior. None of the objects, her companions, did.
Kohime gently grabbed Mr. Cuddles, sitting him upright, his limbs carefully placed and straightened out. Plushie Goku, the Poo Emoji Pillow, a small Hello Kitty and a similarly sized Sailor Moon received near identical care to Mr. Cuddles. It wasn’t their fault she had a bad night. Mori felt shame in the pit of her stomach. Not just for her private display, but for her public one as well. Tony Gamble might be a contemptible jackass, but her anger wasn’t going to change him. It wasn’t going to change what happened.
Later that day, Kohime would post an apology towards Gamble on Spitter. It went about as well as she figured it would; Tony was an asshole and found the time to criticize her while turning down the apology. Did his point of thinking more before posting have merit? Of course it did. But hearing that from someone that was as much of a shit stirrer as The Grin was made it hard to take the point seriously. It didn’t matter anyway. It was time to move on. Kohime needed to get ready, mentally and physically, for the likely rocky road that was ahead of her.
“But he started it!”
The little girl vehemently complained to an adult. The adult in question was Ms. Chigusa Aikawa. Ms. Aikawa was a teacher in charge of one of Okayama Chuo Elementary’s second grade classes. She was a young woman, probably in her mid-twenties, with long black hair that she kept tucked behind her ears. A petite woman standing roughly 5’2”, Chigusa wouldn’t be confused with a supermodel but had an attractiveness you might link to the girl next door.
“Now Kohime-chan…” Ms. Aikawa started to lecture, a certain gentleness infusing her words. “I know Tsuyoshi-kun took your crayons without asking. That doesn’t make hitting okay.”
Standing by Ms. Aikawa’s side was a sniffling little boy. This was Tsuyoshi Minamoto, the resident class clown. It seemed Tsuyoshi was always up to something. One day, he had tied the backpack straps of every child’s backpacks together, so there was a daisy chain of bags. Of course, in the excitement of executing this plan, Minamoto forgot to leave his bag to the side. He was mischievous, a little dim at times, but mostly harmless. If nothing else, it was clear that the child craved attention. That was most likely the culprit of this incident.
Ms. Aikawa had asked the class to draw their house and family. Kohime had laid out her supplies: white construction paper, her favorite box of crayons and a glittery purple glue stick. This was going to be a work of art… As much of one as an eight year old could manage, anyway. Just as Kohime reached for the box, Tsuyoshi came running past her desk, snatching the box away!
“Hey!” Kohime yelled indignantly. “Gimme back my crayons!”
“🎵I got the fat crybaby’s crayons!🎵” Tsuyoshi taunted as he ran around the room. Mori gave chase. Ms. Aikawa, who was across the room giving advice to another student, noticed the disturbance. She tried to move as quickly as she could to break it up. That was easier said than done in heels and a pencil skirt.
“Tsuyoshi-kun!” Ms. Aikawa called out. “Give Kohime-chan back her-”
Her voice got caught in her throat. That’s because Mori caught up to Minamoto. Kohime didn’t just catch him, though… In a sign of what was to come in her future, Mori had blasted the boy in the back with something resembling a lariat. Tsuyoshi flopped forward onto his face, the crayons skidding out of his hands and across the floor. Mori bolted as fast as her little legs could carry her to retrieve the prized colored wax sticks. She scooped the box up, turning over her shoulder to glare at Tsuyoshi.
Kohime’s nasty gaze was brief. She saw him lying there, sobbing muffled by being face down. She dropped the crayons, slowly shuffling over to the fallen boy.
“Tsuyoshi?” Kohime timidly called out as she got closer. She didn’t think she had hit him that hard. Of course, Kohime hadn’t taken into account the fact that she was bigger than him. She was bigger than most of her classmates, on top of being a bit chunky. It was one of many things that were a source of ridicule towards the young girl.
“Leave me alone!” Minamoto wailed, his hands now covering his face. It was like a dagger through Kohime’s heart. It was usually her crying, her having to endure pain of some sort. Sure, Tsuyoshi made her mad. This wasn’t what she wanted. She didn’t want to make anyone else feel her kind of suffering.
Ms. Aikawa would soon come over to check on the battered boy. A skinned knee, a scraped elbow and a lump on his forehead were the price Tsuyoshi paid for his stunt. After attending to Minamoto’s minor injuries, Chigusa turned her attention to Kohime. The girl hid her hands behind her back, staring down at her shoes. Kohime was a bit too young to explain it then, but she was ashamed.
Mori was ashamed that she lost her temper. She was mortified that she made a scene over a box of crayons. She was crestfallen that she had hurt someone over such a minor thing. Kohime knew she was in trouble, but that was the furthest thing from her mind at the moment.
“Kohime-chan…” Ms. Aikawa started. “You know better. It’s not okay to hit your classmates!”
Kohime, as pointed out earlier, objected. In Mori’s mind, it was her way of explaining the situation. Did it sound that way? Absolutely not. Believe it or not, eight year old Kohime didn’t have the nuance to pull such a thing off. It’s debatable if twenty year old Kohime has that nuance. Ms. Aikawa shot a stern look at her student.
“This isn’t about blame or who started what. It’s about the right way to handle situations.” Ms. Aikawa continued from her earlier lecture. “Two wrongs don’t make a right. Tsuyoshi was already disrupting class with his actions. The way you responded not only expanded the disruption, but you also hurt a classmate.”
While Chigusa’s tone was even-keeled, Kohime could feel the heat radiating off the child’s face. Getting scolded in front of everyone was profoundly humiliating. It was more ammo on a bandoleer that seemed endless when it came to taunting Mori. Her throat was tight. She struggled to swallow. Kohime did everything in her power to keep the tears on the inside, mostly succeeding.
Ms. Aikawa could see Mori’s distress. One of the things parents and faculty alike had praised the budding teacher for was her ability in handling her students. Chigusa’s empathy, her talent for speaking to children rather than down to them and her capability to diffuse chaotic situations had gained her respect. Kohime’s body language made her easier to read than a popup book.
“We’ll talk later, okay?” Ms. Aikawa gently reassured Mori. “Just apologize to Tsuyoshi-kun so we can get back to having fun.”
The woman’s bright smile helped loosen the tense Mori. She nodded demurely. Kohime looked up. Tsuyoshi intentionally kept his focus anywhere but in Kohime’s direction.
“I’m sorry, Tsuyoshi-kun!” Kohime managed to choke out before charging forward and wrapping the boy in a hug. Minamoto was caught off-guard. The girl had walloped him moments earlier, after all. He wanted to stay mad… Mori wasn’t really popular and she was a pretty notable wuss. But her apology was so genuine and she squeezed him so tight…
“It’s okay… I’m sorry I took your crayons.” Tsuyoshi mumbled out.
“Okay, that’s settled!” Ms. Aikawa said, a warm grin on her face. “Let’s get back to our art project then.”
Class proceeded as normal, at least as normal as teaching a bunch of rambunctious eight year olds can be. They had lunch (with Kohime giving Tsuyoshi a pudding cup as continued penance on her part) before recess. Ms. Aikawa held Kohime behind.
“So I’m keeping you for two reasons.” Ms. Aikawa told Mori, holding up two fingers. “One, I want to have a talk with you. Two, this is your punishment for the earlier incident.”
Chigusa had Kohime sit at the child’s desk, the teacher pulling up a chair next to her.
“Do you know what I want to talk about?” Ms. Aikawa questioned Mori.
“About not hitting people?” Kohime hazarded a guess. The adult shook her head.
“We pretty much covered that already.” Chigusa reminded her. The young woman adjusted in her chair, brow furrowing. She wasn’t sure how this discussion would go with the child. “I’ve noticed the other children tend to give you a hard time.”
Kohime’s gaze dropped down to her desk, where she proceeded to lightly draw circles with her left index finger on the wooden top.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine.” Chigusa assured Mori. “But I can tell you’re a gentle soul. It takes much more strength to stay kind through tough times instead of lashing out.”
“It does?” Kohime softly asked, shyly raising her eyes from the desk.
“It does.” Ms. Aikawa affirmed. “Restraint when you’re angry, smiling instead of violence, that takes real strength. I want you to be strong from now on. Do you think you can do that?”
The wisdom imparted to Kohime by her teacher left the girl in awe. That’s what strength was? She wasn’t sure if that was true… But what Mori did know was that she wanted to be strong. She wanted it more than anything her still developing brain could comprehend. Kohime looked Ms. Aikawa in the eyes before giving the teacher an emphatic nod.
Sitting at her living room table, laptop open, Kohime stared at the PRIME website. On a card full of singles matches, Mori was in the only multi-person match of the night. In the opener. Back to square one, it seemed. It was a disappointing development at a time when Kohime could have really used some good news.
It was that last little bit of discouragement that led Kohime to flash back to that period of her childhood. The car vandalism, the Spitter outburst, the negative cloud she let hang over her head… Mori had forgotten her strength. That unbreakable positivity, her darkness shattering smile, the joy she brought to others through being her best self… That’s what was needed right now. Kohime needed to be strong again.
Mori had already been successful in one multi-person match. If anything, adding a fourth person could make things easier in a way. Sure, that’s absolutely not true, but if you’re about to fall out of a tree, you reach for any branch you can. Chandler Tsonda, a PRIME legend, was also in the match. That had to count for something. If Mori could stand toe to toe with him, that would have to raise her stock.
Kohime did her best to ward off the fantastical idea that had settled in the back of her mind… Standing toe to toe with Tsonda would be good. But what if she actually BEAT him? Now that would be a tidy bit of business. Was that likely? Oh heavens no. That didn’t matter. Positivity was the order of business today. Even if she couldn’t beat him, Mori was going to try her damnedest.
That didn’t mean she was overlooking the other two men. Both Terry Woods and Greger Sundell were veterans in their own right. In fact, Kohime was very much the cub in this pack of wolves. The youngest of her opposition was still over ten years older than her. Both Woods and Tsonda were old enough to drink by the time Mori was born! Even Sundell was a tween by that point.
If that wasn’t enough, she was also at a size disadvantage. Mori matched up okay with Tsonda, but Sundell was built like a linebacker… And Woods was built like a bigger, more pissed off, more face eating linebacker. Kohime might be surprisingly strong for her stature, but those two were just strong in general. To say that would be a problem for the two smaller competitors would be like saying C. Mortgomery Byrnes has a face even his mother would put a mask on; incredibly obvious fact.
There wasn’t really any other way to look at it. Kohime wasn’t the favorite in this match. Even the one advantage she could’ve had, familiarity with the PRIME roster, was completely out the window. Two wild cards and an icon over ten years removed from the ring. She could go back and watch old Chandler matches (most of them in standard definition, that’s how long this fucker’s been gone). That wouldn’t help much if he changed his ring style at all. Seeing as how the guy was now middle aged, there was at least the chance he’d be slower at doing what he used to do.
Speed, youth and resilience was probably what would potentially lead Kohime to victory. She wanted it and Mori didn’t care who she had to put down for it; whether it was Woods and his practically jail worthy violence, Sundell and his damn near sexual obsession with alternate reality (he definitely wants to bang Earth-283 Greger Sundell, you know he does!) or Chandler Tsonda looking to ascend back to the top… Kohime was going to show all three what true strength was. And she was going to do it with a smile.
Sorry we haven’t spoken in a bit. I was in kind of a bad place… I did things I’m not proud of. Not sex stuff, more just being a massive A-hole. I’m trying to be better, though. I told Tony Gamble off a little bit, so that was stress relieving. I also got to hang out with Eddie Cross and Mrs. Daniels for a bit. She even gave me a free rock!… I think it was free, anyway. If my wallet goes missing and there’s a boot print on my face, you know who did it, Diary. Make sure to alert the proper authorities.
I wasn’t too happy when I saw my match for ReVival. Three opponents. These kinds of matches are always a challenge. You could be setting up to hit some totally awesome, super mega sweet move and one of the other people gets pinned! I mean, I guess you should’ve broken up the pin and stayed focused… But I’m totally focused! I promise, Diary.
One of the guys already had a match. Terry Woods. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I’m not sure there’s a respectful way to say this… Mr. Woods is bat-poop crazy! I think he might hate kittens. Who hates kittens?! This guy, I’m pretty sure. He’s also got the build of a house that got angry and ate another house. He’s big. And angry. He’s bingry.
Greger Sundell is one of the other opponents. I don’t know much about him, outside of what I can find on the web. He really likes thinking about alternate realities. Like, A LOT. I wonder if he subscribes to multiverse theory? I hope he’s not one of those ‘flat reality’ guys I keep hearing about. I think that’s a thing people are triggered by. I dunno. He’s probably got some tricky tricks up his sleeve. I’ll keep both eyes on him, Diary!
Lastly, there’s Chandler Tsonda. He might have more nicknames than I’ve had matches. I’m not familiar, but I’m told he was a big deal in the old PRIME. If nothing else, Mr. Tsonda seems pretty confident in himself. He also might have started wrestling before I was born. I’m kinda excited to try and prove myself against him. I’ll show him it’s better to be a K-Lister than an A-Lister!
This is big for me, Diary. I wanna rebound and show that Culture Shock was just one bad night. Winning this match would prove that. I might not be the logical favorite in this… But I wanna be the emotional favorite! I want the people that need a bit of goodness in their lives to see me and have their day a bit better because of it. Wish me luck, Diary. I’m gonna show my true strength!