Chapter 6 – February 14F

“Hey.” Rex’s voice had grown softer, like someone about to reveal a secret. “This is for you.” The tall teen lifted his right hand, which held a white envelope. Rune’s name written in large block letters on the front.

Rune looked up, his acne-scarred face showing hyperbolic confusion. “What is it?”

Rex jabbed the envelope at Rune. “Exactly what you think it is.”

The younger, shorter teen took the envelope, examined its size (nearly square) and rigidity (firm but flexible, the contents were heavier than paper). He turned it over in his hand. He didn’t know why, but it was important for him to know it was sealed. Which it was.

“You got me a card?”

“Open it.”

Rune looked past Rex’s body, saw that the rest of the Bark Bay High School fencing team was engaged with practice or conversation. He lifted an unsealed section of the envelope’s flap, dug his index finger inside, tore across the back, pulled out the card. On the front was a poorly drawn cartoon of an absurdly obese man, waving a hand high above his bald head, his eyes wide with excitement. Orange and white words THANK YOU! appeared to explode over the man.

Rune stared up at Rex. “What’s this for?”

“The epee.” Rex motioned with his left thumb behind them. “What you did, letting the team have the weapon your aunt gave to you — that was really cool. And I just — ” he suddenly seemed as awkward as he was tall — “well you know, what with my family and all, I’m not exactly in position — ”

“No, it’s cool.” Rune had visited Rex’s trailer only once, and the experience left him not wanting to know anything more about his family.

“But, I didn’t want what you did, which really was cool, to go unrecognized. So — ” he tapped the card in Rune’s hand — “yeah, I got you a card. And I wrote you a message. Go on, read it.”

Without looking, Rune opened the front flap of the card, then looked down. The cartoon fat man had been joined by three other absurd individuals, all of them leaping from the ground, hands raised and faces beaming. There were more gold and red letters above them, but Rune’s eyes shifted to the left inside panel, and Rex’s handwriting in blue ink.

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