Chapter 6 – February 12D

Rune had no idea what conversation Annie was referencing. “I said a lot of things that day.”

“It was after the pools, before the DEs. You were sitting in the bleachers, by yourself. Had to look for you, nobody knew where you’d gone.”

Rune remembered. Christ, she was going to bring up that? “It was a rough tournament, I was frustrated.”

All tournaments are rough. That’s why they call them competitions.”

Rune ran his hands back through his greasy hair. “Look, I’m sorry I acted like I did.” A smile weaker than tepid water. “Why don’t you stay? It’s not like your brother’s waiting for you.”

But Annie opened the interior door, a wave of arctic air rushing into the house. “It’s not that far from downtown. I’ll call Si, let him know where I am.” Her pony-tail was no longer visible, tucked under her wool cap. “I asked how you did in the pools, and a few grunts later I figured out you’d lost every bout. Then I asked what you’d learned, what you planned on doing different in your DE — you remember what you said?”

He did. “No.”

She pushed open the exterior glass door. “You said it didn’t make any difference, what you did. Outcome would be the same.” She pointed a mittened fist at him. “That’s how you’ve been acting all month, like nothing you do makes any difference. And what you’re not seeing, is that whatever it is that you do, it has an impact on the people around you. Whether you intend it, or not.”

She stepped out, onto the front step. “I’ll see you next week.” And then turned, the glass door closing behind her.

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