Baku, Azerbaijan- 2018


The quarterfinals were complete; the semis were this afternoon.

Qualifying had been daunting. Four qualifying rounds yesterday, and soon, I would be closing out my third this afternoon: sixty-plus competitors seeking the middleweight slots for the 2018 Azerbaijan team.

After every match, my routine was rigidly controlled: I showered, redressed for the afternoon’s elimination round, and entered our team’s meditation room.

The soft aroma of sandalwood filled my senses as I knelt to offer my presentation to the Buddha.

Three sticks of Japanese frankincense: my offering to Buddha. Always the same… Every competition… Win or lose.

I lighted them and began meditations.

Rituals allowed me focus… to center.

As always, I gave thanks to Buddha for the strength with which I was blessed. I extolled the refined skills and competitiveness of the opponents I have conquered wishing them future successes. I lifted honor to my coach and teammates and wife- they allowed me the freedom and autonomy to compete.

I sat… relaxed… and allowed the mixed aromas, soft sandalwood and rich frankincense to waft through me. I was now sanctified and grounded… open and ready for my next quest.

There was a gentle knock on the door.

It was time.

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. Requirements: Using the photo prompt, create a 200 word flash fiction story.

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