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Poem: "One Familiar with Self-Defense" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "One Familiar with Self-Defense"
This poem was commissioned by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "Farce" square in my 4-19-16 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. It belongs to the Damask thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"One Familiar with Self-Defense"

Monday, July 14, 2014

Heron had been wary and restless
since the diving incident in the Maldives,
not so much that Mallory would call it
twitchy, but he drifted in and out
of his usual calm demeanor.

She couldn't blame him,
after Drew had gotten pounded
to pulp in the spring and then
Aida had almost drowned due to
someone sabotaging her gear.

Since Mallory had finally decided
to keep both the baby and Heron,
the whole Finn clan had sucked her in
even more than they had before.

That made Uncle Tolli and Uncle Simon
(she was still trying to get used to that)
all the more protective of her.

So Mallory agreed to let them
present a self-defense lesson for
her and the other housemates.

Maze wasn't thrilled, but Ham
eagerly volunteered to front for it,
which settled that objection.

Walden was around, too,
and willing to go along with it,
although she diffidently offered that
her uncles had already given her
some sort of family lessons in
how to stay out of trouble.

"Let's start by putting down
some mats," Tolli said, and laid out
a pair of thin blue slabs of gel.

"That doesn't look like much protection,"
Mallory said, frowning down at them.

"Give it a whack," Tolli invited.

Even at full force, Mallory could
barely feel it. "What is this stuff?"

"It's designed to cushion fragile bodies,
like burn victims," said Tolli. "It's also
great for absorbing impact. That means
even you can fall on this safely."

Mallory clasped her hands over
her rounded belly. "Fall?" she said.

"Attackers will try to knock you down,
so falling properly will make you
harder to disable," Tolli explained.

He showed everyone the basics
of front, back, and side falls.

Ham, who already knew this
from class, tried to throw Simon
and got tossed for his trouble.

Mallory snickered. "Saw that one
coming, his center of gravity is
inches lower than yours."

Ham glared at her. "Show me
that again," he said to Simon.

Mallory tried to concentrate on
her own lesson. Falling on the mat
wasn't as bad as she had feared,
though it was still jarring.

Heron hovered around her,
making sure that she and the baby
were both okay despite the exertion.

Then Simon demonstrated vulnerable points,
some of which could be triggered with
pressure instead of with hitting.

Tolli showed them a few joint holds,
useful for making people let go of things
or twisting them out of the way.

"I don't really like violence," Walden said.

“A damsel in complete distress is a burden
to her protectors," Mallory warned her.

"Show me what you would normally do
to counter an attack," Tolli said to Walden.
"You claimed to have some experience."

"Sure," Walden said, laughing.
"Catch me if you can, old man."

Catching Walden was like
trying to catch a handful of ink
spilled in a pool of water. She
simply swirled out of the way.

It took Tolli a couple of minutes
to grab her, although when he did,
she was easy to throw down.

"Impressive," he agreed. "It's
rare to see a small woman with
so much combat potential."

Walden hummed something
that made Tolli crack up laughing,
and then she began to sing.

"The Pict Song" sounded
creepy enough on its own, but
Walden's soft hissing voice
was just fucking scary.

Ham wheedled Simon into
showing him a few more moves
before Heron declared that they'd all
had enough romping in the sun.

"What do you want me to do
with your mats?" Mallory asked
as she rolled them up.

"Keep them," Tolli said. "They
make good mattress toppers."

Tolli and Simon were as bad as Heron
about surprising her with gifts all the time,
but Mallory was trying to get used to it,
so she didn't argue with them.

Besides, the futon was kind of stiff.

They went indoors and wiped down
with wet towels, then Heron brought out
a big bowl from the refrigerator.

"I made melon salad," he said, and
everyone cheered as they grabbed bowls.

It was cold and sweet and minty,
and Mallory loved the stuff instantly.

"I'm pooped," Walden said.
"Who wants to watch cartoons?"

"Oh! Antics!" Ham exclaimed.
That was a show about soldier ants
trying to protect leafcutters who
were always getting into fixes.

"Cuddle puddle," Walden replied,
dragging cushions onto the floor.

"Can I be in the middle?" Heron said.

Tolli murmured something in Gaelic,
Heron nodded, and Simon said,
"We can cover the outside."

"You don't want to snuggle with
each other?" Mallory asked as she
lumbered into place beside Heron.

"We do that every night," Simon said.

Walden burst into giggles, Ham snickered,
and even Mallory joined in laughing
at the idea of old-people sex.

Ham turned the cartoon on
and everyone cuddled together.

Heron tossed his head, trying to get
the unfamiliar curls to settle. He had only
been growing his hair for a little while.

Mallory reached out and gently tucked
the wayward strands behind his ears.
He was so adorable like this.

At the first touch, Heron melted
against her, so she combed her fingers
through his hair, and within moments
he was boneless and purring.

She snuggled into Heron, with
Simon a warm weight behind her and
an arm draped protectively over her.

Mallory was surprised to realize
that, for the first time in months,

she actually felt safe.

* * *

Notes:

Simon -- He has milk chocolate skin, brown eyes, and short nappy black hair. Although he still has some use of his legs, he's more mobile in a wheelchair than on foot. Simon is homosexual, and the partner of Tolliver Finn. They live in North Carolina, about an hour from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Simon spends a lot of time outdoors, so his skin rarely gets lighter even in winter. His wilderness skills span both recreation and survival aspects. His favorite sports include wheelchair racing and bobsled. He also has a lever wheelchair for hiking. He enjoys teaching his skills to other people.
Qualities: Master (+6) Activity Scout, Master (+6) Paralympic Martial Arts, Master (+6) Veteran, Expert (+4) Gamer, Expert (+4) Paralympic Track & Field, Good (+2) Family Values, Good (+2) Insightful, Good (+2) Sniper, Good (+2) Wilderness Skills

Walden Hollingberry -- She has pale skin, blue eyes, and long slightly wavy black hair. Her shoulders are wider than her hips and she has small breasts. Her heritage is Pictish. She is an only child. She is quiet, sometimes emo, and into the goth scene on weekends. She is a night owl, definitely not a morning person. She moves silently and often startles people without even meaning to. Walden lives in the same house with Damask. She's majoring in Literature with a minor in Creative Writing.
Qualities: Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Liberal Arts, Good (+2) Mysterious, Good (+2) Self-Reliant
Poor (-2) Dealing with Popular People

This is "A Pict Song" (words by Rudyard Kipling in Puck of Pook's Hill, music by Leslie Fish, performance by Emerald Rose). Read a little about their history.

* * *

“A damsel in complete distress was a burden to her protectors; one familiar with self defence, not as much.”
Grace Draven, Eidolon

On Monday, July 14, 2014 Mallory is 27 weeks pregnant.

Tolli and Simon bring two gel mats to use as padding for teaching Mallory about self-defense. Each mat is 1/4" thick, 36 inches wide by 75 inches long. They're made of resilient gel that absorbs impact almost completely, originally designed for cushioning burn victims. This style is thin enough to roll up and transport easily, thus popular for emergency supplies, and they can be stacked for extra padding.

Situational awareness is the skill of observing your surroundings for potential risks across multiple aspects. You can develop this skill through various exercises and games. Follow the steps to increase your situational awareness.

Falling is a fundamental skill in martial arts and personal safety. Watch videos of basic and advanced techniques.

Pressure points can be used to manipulate or incapacitate an enemy. See a map of the human body's vulnerable spots.

Joint holds can force submission through pain, but can also disable an enemy through mechanical damage. This ad lists some interesting principles about joint manipulation.

Enjoy a recipe for Lime-Mint Melon Salad.

Antics is a cartoon that's mostly comedy about leafcutter ants, but has some social messages and safety tips hidden in it. The show is written by a policevet who had to retire due to work-related injuries.

(These links include graphic dismemberment of insects.)


Leafcutter ants are sophisticated social insects, whose soldiers are brutally effective. They actually practice large-scale agriculture, harvesting leaves to grow fungus.

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