Old swords

[Today’s assignment for Blogging 101 is to post a response to a prompt, yet still is written in a manner “that fits right in with everything you normally blog about.” Fortunately for me, this is something I do routinely — use a prompt to explore a character, scene, or location for the novel I’m drafting, or to start a new short story. And the subject for today’s prompt from The Daily Post is childhood toys — this scene would go near the start of the second chapter, October.]

“So, my friend — ” Coach Dan spread his arms wide and leaned back, as if he were spreading a map across his broad chest — “tell me about this fencing experience you say you have.”

“Oh!” The follow-up question seemed almost to strike Butch physically. The teen glanced over at Rune (sitting with Annie next to the team’s equipment bags), then back at this man, this teacher, who had just asked to address him as coach during practice. “Me and Huey — ”

Rune.” The greasy-haired teen’s voice had shot across the cafeteria floor like a missile seeking to destroy its target.

“Oh! Yeah. Well, I was saying, me and Rune, when we was kids, we’d go out back of his place — we’d always go to his place, ‘cuz of my parents, one time they seen me and H — Rune, we was wrestling out back of my house, this was back in oh I don’t know, must have been third grade — ”

“My friend!” Coach Dan had walked over to the portly teen, the teacher placing his hands on the top of the student’s shoulders. “As much as it pleases me to hear the details of your friendship with that fine young man, may I remind you — ” his smile avuncular, his eyes less so — “that I was asking about your fencing experience.”

“We had these fake swords.” Still sitting across from Annie, Rune had shifted his body a quarter-turn in the direction of his coach and friend. “They were curved, like scimitars. We made them out of cardboard, for Cub Scouts.”

“They were silver, with red handles. We were pirates!” For the first time that afternoon, Butch seemed comfortable, animated. “Our den mother, she wanted to be sure they held up through rehearsals, so she gave us good materials to work with. After the play was done, she let us take them home — Rune and I would use them to have sword fights.”

“I see.” Coach Dan scratched the short black curls of his bearded chin. “You still have those swords?”

“Oh! They weren’t real swords, they — ”

A quick wave from his coach’s hand stopped Butch as if a spell had been cast on him. “The swords you made, in Cub Scouts.” The seven-year English teach at Bark Bay High School shifted his attention to where Rune was sitting. “Do you still have those?”

Rune shrugged. “Beats me. Ain’t seen that old thing in years. Threw out a bunch of junk from my closet over the summer, might have gotten tossed with that.”

Annie sneezed, the end of her brown ponytail lifting and nearly touching her head. Coach Dan turned back towards Butch, widened her eyes. A moment later, the tow-headed teen startled, as if waking from a nap.

“Oh! I, uh — yeah, I still got it, in the basement. Father says it’s silly, but I told him I really liked it, wanted to keep it, so he said I could so long as I didn’t use it on my sisters. That’s what he tells us boys, don’t you pick on your sisters or younger brothers. But he didn’t say that to me.”

“Why not?” Coach dan cursed himself silently as soon as he asked the question.

“‘Cuz I’m the youngest.”

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