Butch walked back to the end of the line, leaving Kassie at the front of the line. But instead” of advancing she stood, arms straight down her sides, her fencing mask dropping from her head as if it were about to fall off.
“You’re next.” Miles statement was as much a command as a statement of fact. Kassie took a step back, almost backing into Annie, who put a gentle hand on the slender girl’s back.
Miles lowered his arms, tilted his head playfully. “Oh puh-leeze. You’re not supposed to retreat, it’s against the rules!”
Kassie replied that she didn’t know what to do.
Miles swept his foil in front of him, swoosh. “You’re supposed to fence, darling. That is why you’re here, isn’t it.”
Kassie shook her head.
“What?” Miles’ voice cracked through the air, Annie recognizing the tone from last year. Miles had a term, a combination of disgust and confusion, he called it confustion. His voice was filled with confustion as he spoke to Kassie. “So why are you here, darling? Looking for a date?”
Annie stepped forward. “Miles — ”
He swept his arms open. “I’m available, you know.”
Coach Dan stepped forward, but Kassie replied before her coach could speak. She said he couldn’t find what it was he was looking for, not here.
Every member of the Bark Bay High School fencing team turned to Kassie, their eyes filled with questions.
“Really now?” Miles’ confustion grew along with his volume. “And what is it, exactly, that I’m looking for?”
The person you used to be, Kassie replied.
Time seemed to stop in the cafeteria, as the gray metal of Miles’ fencing mask peered into Kassie. The sound of footsteps in the hall could be heard.
Miles crouched down into en garde position. He waved Kassie forward. “Let’s just do this, OK?”
“Hold on, my friend.” Coach Dan stepped between Kassie and Miles.