Chapter 5 – January 3B

“Watch your distance.” The Bird seemed to hear more of Mr. Jacobs’ echo than his direct voice. He was on the far end of the cafeteria, standing outside an area where Rex and Mr. Saunders, their faces hidden behind gray metal fencing masks, faced each other.

Har un hur. The Bird couldn’t make out the words coming from Mr. Saunders. She saw Rex step forward and lunge, his long thin arms and legs extending from his body like a giant pair of scissors. Mr. Saunders parried, his blade tinging against Rex’s, but the red rubber tip at the top of the tall teen’s weapon landed emphatically on Mr. Saunder’s left shoulder.

The Bird heard unintelligible yet clearly encouraging words from Mr. Jacobs, who stepped between Rex and Mr. Saunders and clapped twice. She had been to enough practices to recognize this was his signal to end the current activity. Rex and Mr. Saunders both took a step back, pulled their masks off from their faces, both glistening with sweat.

“Line up.” Mr. Jacobs was pointing down to the floor, at a line where the black tile gave way to white. The cafeteria floor was predominantly black, with rectangular islands of white that accidentally formed convenient fencing strips.

The Bird waited for Annie to approach the line that Mr. Jacobs had pointed to before rising, and walking to the line. She took a position at the right end of the line next to Rune, who had rushed next to the line to stand next to Annie, Rex at the far left.

“For today, Daniel?” The Bird didn’t understand why Mr. Saunders sounded disappointed.

“I guess. No one, for sure.” Mr. Jacobs’ answer did not make sense to her. “Thought we’d have Micky today, but she’d have been here by now if she was.” The Bird’s eyes widened in recognition, as she quickly scanned the line, one two three four. Mr. Jacob’s must have said Juan, not no one.

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