Coach Dan led Bernie, Butch, and Kassie to the far end of the cafeteria, near the short wall at the front of the stage. He motioned to a line formed at the border of white and black tiles, the brusqueness he had just displayed to Annie now evaporated under the warmth of his genial, bearded smile.
Butch nudged Bernie on the shoulder as Coach Dan positioned himself in front of the three teens. “Is Miles always like that?”
Bernie shrugged. “He never talked to me, much. Spent his time with the other seniors.”
Kassie asked Bernie if he tried talking to Miles. “What would I talk to him about?” Fencing? Bernie scoffed. “Miles doesn’t talk with you about fencing. He talks to you. So long as you come to him with the right attitude, he’ll talk to you.”
Kassie smiled. Said it sounded like you actually needed to come to him with the right preposition.
Coach Dan turned to her, in happy amazement. “Was that — a joke?”
Yes, Kassie replied.
“Told you!” Annie’s voice called from the middle of the cafeteria. “Kaz has a great sense of humor. You just need to listen to her.”
Coach Dan nodded at Kassie. “If you continue to be so clever, it’ll be worth the effort to pick out your voice from the crowd — my friend.”
The slender teen smiled, looked down at the tiled floor bashfully.