A Dojang Romance: Episode Two
If ever there was an appropriate time for a facepalm, now was it. Instead I slide on to the nearest stool because my legs can no longer hold me and slam my face directly onto the counter. I keep my face there, refusing to look at or acknowledge Mr. Malloy.
He gives me a minute before gently touching my arm. “We need to talk about this Emily.”
“No…we don’t!” I say without raising my head.
He sighs and I can tell he is trying to hide his impatience “ Yes we do. We are both adults…just tell me what you are thinking?”
“There are no thoughts! I am in shock! “I mutter
“Emily, I will not talk to the back of your head. Look at me!”
He says this sternly and with enough authority that my head snaps up almost on its own. To counter this, I slump back in my seat and cross my arms over my chest. I know I am acting like a disgruntled toddler but I no longer care. It is just my luck that as soon as I find a worthy prospect, he turns out to be my taekwondo instructor! Why me?
Mr. Malloy stares at me for a moment before his expression softens. “Hey,” he says “we are both adults here and this may be awkward but it’s not the worst thing that can happen, right?” I just stare at him thinking it’s pretty bad. He continues in the patronizing tone that he uses when the little kids fight during class, “so now we just need to decide how we are going to handle this. Of course I think the decision should be all yours.”
I blink a couple of times, not really understanding what he is saying “Mr. Mal-“ I start…
“Trent” he interrupts me “ you should call me Trent, outside of the dojang of course!”
“of course…” I echo. “ I guess I just don’t know what the choices are…Trent”
“Well…” he says looking a little embarrassed for all his “no big deal” talk “ I guess the choices are we put this behind us, learn from it but essentially forget it happened or…we could… continue our relationship in person…”
I don’t really know what I was expecting him to say, but that second choice was certainly a shock to me. Even though I had always been attracted to him, I had never really thought there was any chance he could ever see me that way. I just couldn’t wrap my frazzled brain around it, however there was a small seed of hope starting to take root. I stare at him quizzically. “ Are you saying that you could actually be attracted to me?” I ask.
Trent smiles at me and my heart damn near melts. “Of course I find you attractive Emily” he says, “You were a kid when we first met so I couldn’t let myself see you that way but things are different now, and if you are willing then I see no reason why us being in a relationship can not be in the realm of reality.”
“How about this..” he continues, “ you take a couple of days to think about things and we will talk again on Wednesday night ok?”
“ok” I say nodding as if this is the greatest idea I have ever heard. Trent gets up and walks toward the door. “Lock up behind me “ he says and is gone. I dutifully click all the locks and slide boneless to the floor. Honestly how do I end up in these messes…I eventually climb into bed not willing to process this information tonight and besides I should be better able to think after a good night’s sleep….
My alarm goes off at 5am the next morning. Its Tuesday…I have four hours of classes but thankfully I am not scheduled for my cashier job today and have no classes to teach. I do normally attend the black belt only class at taekwondo because it is taught by the owner and chef instructor Mr. Knight. It takes me all of two minutes to remember that I faced an awkward and difficult decision. The decision to stay in bed all day was an easy one! I texted my teachers claiming I was sick and fell back asleep. It was not restful as I kept having nightmares that including all of the higher rank class pointing and laughing at me in my sexy purple night gown. I awoke around 10 am and spent the day lounging on the couch watching tv and eating junk food.
It was 4pm and I had to decide if I could face Trent in class…I felt completely unable to face him so I texted James with the same the same vague excuse hoping that he would assume it was a “female problem” which is usually the only thing to keep me away from training…and that I could count on him to tell the others I wouldn’t be there tonight. I then settled down again with Netflix…I didn’t have a lot of free time to just be lazy with the schedule I usually keep so I was actually enjoying myself, while trying to figure out just what I wanted from Trent. I had really been enjoying my conversations with T. Our interactions were exciting and casually fun. Last night had not been super fun or casual…Trent in person was just as intimating as Mr. Malloy was in class…but now we had this added sexual tension. And that had certainly been present and recognizable despite the awkwardness of the situation. In fact the only thing keeping me from jumping into this was the thought of going into the dojang and trying to be normal after we did some kinky thing or other. I wasn’t at all sure I could be an adult about this whole thing, especially if things between us soured. What would James and Mr Knight think about us “dating” we certainly couldn’t hide it forever. But it would sure be a fun experience…just thinking about it was making me giddy with excitement…I was still contemplating this a few hours later while the tv played in the background, when there was a knock at my door.
I went to answer it and was surprised to once again find Trent Malloy at my door. I held the door open for him and he stands just inside my apartment looking at me, accessing me and my messy living room with evidence of my junk food indulgence littering the coffee table. “Is this going to become a habit?” I ask as blandly as possible.
“If your lucky…” he responds…as he stalks toward my kitchen. “Do you have coffee?”
“Yeah…” I follow him and indicate the kugrig machine and the spinny cup holder on the counter. He doesn’t say anything until he has made us both a cup of coffee and we sit at the counter. “ I have two things to discuss with you and I want you to be completely honest with me…” he says over his coffee cup.
“Okay…” I say waiting…trying to seem unaffected by him.
“First, are you really feeling sick or just wanting to avoid me?”
“Sick…very sick” I say into my coffee cup….but I can feel him staring at me so without even looking up I add “ I wasn’t trying to avoid you, I just needed time to think…”
“Ok….I am very glad that you didn’t continue with that lie…” he says approvingly. Hearing this I dare to look up and Trent smiles at me. I begin to think that maybe just maybe this could work? “But listen Emily, I don’t want to ever be the reason you skip class. As your instructor your progress in taekwondo means too much to me. It is very important that you don’t let that suffer, especially because of me…yes sir?”
It is his “instructor’s voice” so I give him a small smile and nod, “yes sir” I say quietly.
He continues, “ I would transfer and teach at another school before I let you quit or anything so don’t get any ideas of stopping your training. You are very close to your second degree.”
I perk up at this. There is a black belt testing scheduled for two months from now and even though I have been asking weekly, they have not yet given me permission to test. “so I will be able to test in April?” I ask excitedly.
Trent shakes his head “ I don’t know that yet, you know Mr. Knight has final say.”
“Yeah but I also know that you and James have a lot of say in that decision!”
“Don’t ‘yeah but ‘ me! When you are ready you will be told!”
“But how do I know what to work on if you don’t tell me!” I challenge.
“You know exactly what you need to work on!” He meets the challenge.
I sigh loudly “ugggg!!” and fold my arms over my chest. I stop myself from rolling my eyes but just barely. I know I am acting childish but this is an old disagreement. I like to think of myself as a badass martial artist but the truth is that I didn’t take to this naturally. I am a shy, quiet, timid introvert who has issues with hurting people. I know I do not sound like the type of person who takes and greatly enjoys martial arts, however I do enjoy so much of the practice but if there was one aspect I could do without it would be sparring. I literally cried the first time I was told to spar as a white belt…I got over it when I discovered that white belts are not allowed to actually make contact. I would like to say those are the last tears I cried while on the mat but I would be lying. It took a lot of blood sweat and tears for me to get to the rank I was now and taekwondo had become a big part of my life now.
Trent is looking at me with an amused expression on his face “this is exactly what I would imagine every time you would type that during our conversations” This time I do roll my eyes, he chuckles, but I do not want to think about everything we ‘discussed’. “So Miss Walker what do you think you need to work on to be allowed to test?”
He is baiting me now, “sparring” I say dutifully.
“what about sparring?” he asks.
“I need to be more aggressive…” I say this with no emotion just responding as I know he expects me to, as I say this is not a new fact. I have been told this before literally every testing so far. I do not necessary agree with this statement and I have tried to argue this point but arguing with your head instructors is not generally a good idea.
He shakes his head at my lack of enthusiasm, but decides to have mercy on me and changes the subject. “Moving on, the second thing is that you need to delete that app”
“The dating app? Why?” I ask.
“ I told you last night….it is dangerous.” He says. “Give me your laptop so I can make sure its gone.”
“But that’s not fair…if we don’t work out then I need a way to meet someone new…”
“You will need to find a safer way Emily.” He says.
I do not want to delete this app…I have not agreed to allow him to control me this way! I am glaring at him not making a move to get my laptop for him.
“Don’t make me involve Mr. Knight Emily…”
Crap! Mr. Knight has been a father figure for me since I was 13 years old. He would certainly not like the idea of me being on any kind of dating app. “but you would also have to admit that you were on there!” I exclaim.
“Yes, I would but I am ok with that”
I can see Trent is pretty determined. With a loud sigh, I slip off my stool and retrieve my laptop from the living room and bring it to him. He opens it, “No security code?” He asks.
“I didn’t need one until now…” He is able to delete it pretty quickly. He closes it and slides it across the counter to me. “What now?” I ask.
“That is up to you” I will text you tomorrow and we can talk tomorrow night after you have attended ALL your classes. Understood?”
I nod my consent and he is up and out the door before I can think of something witty to say. I lock up again as instructed and head to bed since I have early classes.