The Academy 1D

“So this is where their fencing team practices?” Butch asks, his voice echoing against the brown stone walls of the massive field house. He’s still got that wide-eyed look, like he’s never seen a building as big as this, and when I think about it I realize that might actually be the case. His father, Reverend Goodman, doesn’t like to travel, and the biggest thing we have in Bark Bay is the old lumber mill, and most of that’s falling apart.

Annie shakes her head. “The Academy usually fences in the small gym, but Coach Dan said there’s a gymnastics meet there today, so they moved us in here.” Coach Dan tells her everything. “Come on,” now she’s saying, “let’s warm up.” She walks to an open area of the interior, waves at Butch and I to follow her. The surface where she stops seems like the same thing they have on the tennis courts nearby, some type of hard green rubber. I look around at the lines painted on the surface, see two poles standing at what looks like mid-court based on the lines. There’s a net on one pole, it’s down now but I can see it’s mounted high, when strung across to the other pole the bottom of the net will be at my chest.

“Volleyball court,” I say. Annie looks around, nods, says “maybe,” and begins taking off her jacket. One of these days she’s going to admit that I’m right about something.

Butch asks if this is where we’ll be fencing today, and Annie shrugs and says we’ll find out soon enough. I look at my watch, it’s 10:35, the tournament starts at 11 but we had to get early because Laura, Mrs. Hutchinson, she had to meet Sierra at 10:30, so she dropped us off early.

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