Bernie groaned his frustration as he left the game area, leaving Butch alone to face Miles. Sheepish eyes widened behind the gray metal of Butch’s fencing mask. Making eye contact with Coach Dan, the son of Rev. Nathaniel Goodman of the First Baptist Church of Bark Bay asked what he should do next.
Coach Dan smiled. “Now would be a good time to start fencing.”
“Or not.” Coach Dan and his students, the members of the Bark Bay High School fencing team, turned to see Miles pulling his fencing mask up and off his head. The face of last year’s fencing team captain and current freshman at State looked tired, covered in sweat, but satisfied. “There’s no real point to continuing.” He raised his foil to salute Butch.
“Not so fast.” The command came from Annie, who rushed to the area between Miles and Butch, her pony-tail bouncing behind her head. She turned to Miles. “Finish the game.”
Miles smiled, but his tsk was filled with annoyance and displeasure. “What’s the point, little girl?” He darted his eyes behind her, at Butch. “He doesn’t look like he wants any part of me.”
Her pony-tail nearly hit Miles as she turned to face Butch. “The point is that you, all of us, are going to face a lot of opponents this year who will be far better than us, some almost as good as Miles used to be.” Miles voice whispered curtly in protest, Used to be?, but Annie continued. “Butch, finish the game. Get a touch, or not — but finish.” Off the corner of her vision she saw Coach Dan, standing behind Butch, and raising his right thumb with a slow nod of appreciation.