The Academy 1G

Butch is looking at the three-pronged adapter in his hand, his eyes following the cable leading from it to the scoring box. He holds it up to Annie (I seem to have fallen off his radar) and asks, “So you’re supposed to plug into this?”

Now it’s Coach Sarah’s turn to butt in. “We’ll show you all that when the rest of the equipment comes in,” she says, turning now to the door which she had walked through just now. I like Annie, but it’s good to see the tables get turned on her once in a while.

The door opens, and through it walks a tall boy, clearly a student, dragging a rolling duffel bag behind him which catches the door as he walks in. I don’t recognize him, but there’s something about him — maybe it’s the way he walks, every movement so fluid, or his demeanor, the way he barely notices the door catching the rolling duffel, he doesn’t even look back, just jerks his arm forward a moment until the duffel clears and keeps moving forward, as if he was not pulling the bag but rather leading it, like a dog on a leash — somehow I get the impression that I’m supposed to know who he is.

“Over here, Francis,” Coach Sarah calls to him. He nods briskly at her, continues without pausing in the direction her coach had indicated. Francis — yes, Francis Pine, last year’s captain of the Academy’s fencing team. Apparently he was only a junior last year. Bark Bay doesn’t have a fencing captain, hell we’re lucky to have a team this year. Our best fencer, Miles, graduated along with a couple others, and that left me and Annie, Rex and Double-J. Fortunately I finally got Butch to join — he’d been asking me about the team all year, came to watch our school’s first-ever tournament, even showed up at a few practices — and there’s this new girl, Kassie I think she’s called. I don’t know for sure, she’s kind of creepy, doesn’t say much. Annie saw her watching us one day at practice, practically dragged her in, and the last two weeks she showed up to practice on her own. That’s all it takes I guess to be on our team, just show up……….

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