On Guard

Annie walked several feet in front of Butch, then turned to him, the right side of her body directed at Butch, her left perpendicular. Bending her knees, she commanded “en garde.”

Butch smiled, mirrored Annie’s position, shouted, “On guard!”

En garde. It’s French.”

“Yeah, that’s what I said, ‘on guard.'”

Annie rose from her crouch. “They sound the same, means the same as well. But there is a subtle difference in pronunciation. Sorry, I’m just a perfectionist.” She shook her head, smiled apologetically. “Doesn’t matter.”

Butch also came out of his crouch. “No, it’s OK. I like learning about stuff. So it’s, en guard?”

“No, not en, en.”

Butch looked confused. “Sounds like on to me.”

“It’s — subtle, is all.” She crouched back down again. “Like I say, it doesn’t matter.”

Butch remained standing. “Do you think I should take French, now that I’m a fencer.

“God no!” Annie said, with what even she realized was far too much emphasis. “Sorry — no, you can take French if you want — ”

“I chose to take Spanish this year. Thought about taking French, but it was the same period as shop.”

“You don’t have to speak French, in order to fence. Just have to learn a few words.”

“I got a D on my first Spanish test — ”

“OK then!” Annie rose her hands quickly in the air, pushed down with her palms. “Let’s — get ready, OK?”

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