The Academy 4N

Coach Dan asks us to give her some room, his way of telling us that he has instructions for Annie before the third encounter starts. I wish her luck before I step back, and Annie turns to me with a smile, and a wink. I notice the smooth line of her chocolate ponytail running along the side of her smooth neck, the shimmer of her beaming face, the sharpness of her eyes as she looks up at Coach Dan.

I jump when I hear Kassie say “You should call Jane.” I turn to her, look down at her dark eyes. She apologizes for scaring me. I’m annoyed, not at what Kassie did but what she said. I protest, “Why does everyone want me to call Jane?”

For the first time that morning, I see Kassie smile. It’s not a happy smile, has all the warmth of a fall breeze. “I don’t care if you call her or not. I’m just saying you should.”

“Maybe I will. Like I said, I don’t know what I’m doing Saturday. Anyway, it’s my choice after all, right?”

Kassie nods. “Yes. It’s your choice. You have free will. We all have free will.”

“That’s right. Doing what you want to do, that’s the most important thing, right? Even if it turns out to be the wrong decision — it’s better to do what you want and be wrong, than to have the right choice forced upon you — isn’t it?” I conclude with uncertainty in my voice.

Kassie shrugs. “Don’t we also decide what’s right and wrong?”

“I guess,” I say, excusing myself to go to the bathroom (and no, I don’t really need to go).

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