My best entries are around 300 words, so when I reached that point yesterday I decided to extend this project into today.
Her lack of participation was no longer going unnoticed at practice. She was scared, she was weird, just leave her alone — while The Bird wasn’t concerned about the inaccurate opinions about her behavior, she had to know where Mr. Jacobs’ opinion fell.
“Hmm.” A muscular hand scratched thin curls of black beard. “You know, sometimes I see you at practice, Sandy — sorry, Bird. I see you, and I can’t help but think of this guy I knew, back in my school days. Can’t remember his name.” The sedan stopped at a stoplight, and Mr. Jacobs flicked the turn signal, ca-click ca-click. “Think it began with a J — Jamie, maybe, or Jimbo — there was an M in the middle, pretty sure.” ca-click ca-click. “He was a fencer, same as me. He was a year ahead of me, was already pretty good when I started on the team. Really intense, too — gave out this big yell when he scored a good touch. You’ve heard Double-J’s yell, right?”
The Bird nodded as the stoplight turned green, and Mr. Jacobs steered the sedan left, onto the county road which lead to The Bird’s home. “But one day around the middle of my first year, Jamal or whatever, I see that he’s not doing anything at practice. We practiced in a gym, and one day I see him just sitting in the stands, watching us. Next week, it’s the same thing — sometimes he’d get up and talk to one of us. The third week I saw him there, I asked this gal on the team, Charlene, that name I do remember, I knew she knew him so I asked if he was injured. And she was like, no, he’s fine, he just doesn’t want to fence. And so I say that if he doesn’t want to compete in tournaments that’s fine, but if he’s gonna show up at practice then why doesn’t he, you know, practice.”
The sedan slowed as it approached the long driveway to The Bird’s home, ca-click ca-click. “And then Charlene, she gives me this look, and says Everyone who comes to practice, comes for a different reason. And then I look up at him, sitting with this contented smile on his face, and realize it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him relax.”
to be concluded