Mr. Jacobs pulled the gear shift lever up, the sedan shuddering to a stop, headlight eyeballs illuminating the front of The Bird’s house. “What I’ve learned from my years in the sport — ” his body shifting towards her, short curls of black hair and beard framing his smiling face — “is that everyone fences for a different reason. Like now, on the team — ” he pointed with his right thumb behind them — “Annie seems like she was born to fence. Rex, because he loves the competition. The others, I’m not so sure — ”
The Bird said that Butch fenced because the world confused him, and Rune, because he was scared. The words had come out of her, suddenly, and as she saw Mr. Jacobs’ face draw back she immediately felt regret. Could do nothing but wait for his response.
“Hmm.” Left hand scratching his beard. “Such — interesting observations, my friend. Now let me ask, what do you think motivates Double-J.
She said that was easy. Double-J fenced like the world was weilding a weapon against him, and it was his job to defeat it.
“Ah.” He glanced, nodding, out the front of the windshield a moment, then turned his gaze back at The Bird. “Well it’s apparent to me, my friend, that your powers of perception are more acute than my own. Which is why I don’t wonder about why you choose to practice with the team. Only you — ” right index finger aiming at her chest — “know that reason. So, to answer your question, your being at practice does not bother me, not in the least. All I care about, is that you find what you’re looking for.”
The Bird said OK, then swiftly opened the sedan’s passenger door. A moment later she was waving as the sedan backed away, suddenly realizing she had forgotten to thank Mr. Jacobs for the ride home that evening. And realized he would have no expectation of such a perfunctory parting gesture, a realization that made her feel less alone in the world.
End of “Dysphonia”