The Academy 4T

“Hey Daniel,” Coach Sarah calls in our direction as she walks towards up, holding up her index and middle fingers of her right hand. “I’ve got two for sabre” — now she holds up her ring and pinky — “four for epee.” Glad she held up those fingers, because as we all know they don’t teach arithmetic at Bark Bay because you just need to count with your fingers to get a job at the paper mill when you graduate and then one day get laid off when the decision to cut costs is made by some manager, who probably went to the Academy and learned how to count and shit.

“Just one, for sabre,” replies Coach Dan, holding up one finger (see?). “Two for epee.” We all look at each other with surprise, not because Coach Dan has forgotten to raise a second finger but cuz of Rex being the only one of us who does epee, just like Double-J (you can hear him snoring off to the side if you listen) is our only sabre guy. “Don’t get too comfortable,” Coach Dan says, turning to Annie. “You’re not done today.”

“You want me in epee?” Annie asks. Her voice is hesitant, like she’s just been asked to take a dog out for a walk in the rain, but the look in her eyes, I’ve seen that before. It’s an act, she doesn’t want everybody to know that competing in epee is really what she wants to do. The whole Hutchinson family’s like that, they like to hide their ambitions, get real defensive if you call their bluff. I did that once to Annie — we were in study hall and she was acting all surprised cuz of she was nominated for student council, and I laughed and she started to blush and asked me what was so funny, and I said come on, you’ve been sucking up to everyone on the nominating committee for weeks, and she stabbed a glare at me and said not true, then got up and left and didn’t talk to me for a week. So yeah, I’ve learned to just let her do her thing when she acts like this.

“I’m sure Francis would enjoy another shot at you today,” Coach Sarah interjects before Coach Dan can reply to Annie. I see Francis standing a bit back from his coach, and he nods. “But one of my sabre-ists needs to get going soon, so let’s do that first.” She waves a hand in the direction of the wall behind us. “Somebody want to rouse him?”

I turn in the direction Coach Sarah had indicated, see Double-J slumped against the field house wall, head resting forward on arms crossing the knees of his bent legs.

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