Chapter 6 – February 4B

“Who can tell me — ” Coach Dan’s teaching moments were always punctuated with a purposeful stare that scanned above their heads — “what you should be focusing on during a fencing bout?”

“Distance.” Rex’s response was as swift and sharp as his riposte.

“Yes — ” Coach Dan swept his arm across his body — “but what’s the best way to judge the distance between you and your opponent?” Still holding the sock in his left hand, he pointed with two fingers at his eyes. “What should you be looking at?”

The members of the Bark Bay High School fencing squad looked quickly at each other. Rune saw a knowing-yet-eager-for-someone-else-to-answer expression from both Rex and Annie, and confusion from both Butch and The Bird. Growing uncomfortable with the silence, Rune decided to throw out a guess.

“Their arm.”

Coach Dan pursed his lips, nodded at Rune. “Interesting!” He extended an open palm, as if offering Rune a present. “Explain, please.”

Rune hated the way Coach Dan always asked them to explain their answers. Well, he was a teacher after all. “I don’t know. I guess . . . their arm’s closest to you, so it’s easier to judge distance that way.” His eyes brightened. “And if they extend the arm, you know they’re about to attack you!”

Coach Dan tilted his head sideways, his telltale sign that he had just heard a wrong answer. “Some sound logic there, yes. But — here’s the problem.”

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