Entry Nickname: She Wears Bruises Like Trophies
Title: Lucky Punch
Word count: 71K
Genre: Adult Contemporary


Widowed military veteran Poppy Leon is desperate to rebuild her life and be a great single parent to her son Milo, despite suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, after almost losing her life in a mortar attack in Iraq.

When Poppy finds a veteran’s outreach program of mixed martial arts (MMA), she hopes it will help curb her debilitating PTSD. After two years of MMA competition Poppy is undefeated, 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 still has contracts and commitments to complete that her honor demands she fulfill. If she doesn’t, she loses her fight money, and the home she and Milo picked out that she just signed a contract for. If she doesn’t get her shit 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.  Now Poppy must decide between Marine and Mother if she's ever going to give her son and herself the life she deserves. 

First 250:

The tent was in flames around her and Poppy felt like she’d been thrown against a concrete wall. Sand filled her mouth, her head was splitting apart. All, she could think was, move! Her eyes teared up as she opened them, and rough hands grabbed her and dragged her from the tent. 

Poppy was dropped on 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. He was a God damn hero.

She looked around, the ringing in her ears increasing, and took quick inventory of the action around her. There were men and women in uniform, running hither and to with their faces bloodied and their once clean uniforms tattered and covered in dust. 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 had the presence of mind to leave it where it was, and leaned over to retch into the sand. 

She crawled over to the body next to her, putting her 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. She didn’t feel any obvious wounds, and she glanced to the side, wondering who was in charge. Then she remembered: she was.