Annie’s answer came to her effortlessly, words coming to her suddenly, some surprising her even as she uttered them, as if she were speaking not from her conscious mind with its filters and catch phrases — her words seemed to come from some place deeper inside her, not a place as tantigle as her conscious where she could identify thoughts, memories, emotions, yet a place that seemed far more real:
“I fence because it’s the only thing that’s ever inspired me. All the dance classes, the gymnastics — AP classes, college prep — debate club, Young Entrepreneurs — I’m sorry, all of that was fun, but all I’ve ever done is go through the motions with any of that. No, it wasn’t all easy, but I got through it all just for the sake of getting it done. I’ve never actually enjoyed the act of doing something — until I started fencing.
“Fencing takes everything that I have, everything that I can deliver — physically, intellectually, emotionally. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done where I’ve responded to defeat not with disappointment, but excitement — here’s a new challenge to conquer, a new code to decypher. And the beauty is, it never ends, there’s always someone just a little better than the person you just beat.
“Why fencing?” Annie asked, echoing her mother’s original question. “Because I can’t imagine life without fencing.”
Paula Hutchinson took a step back, looked at her daughter with surprise and awe. Then her face softened into a smile that was echoed by the arc of pearls across her chest, as she said, “Now I know why they want you to be the fencing captain.”