The clamor raised by Double-J’s exhortations had subsided to a murmur, as the two teens covered their faces once more and crouched into en garde position. Dan pointed to both with his hands palm done – “Ready” —
And in that still moment, his two students waiting for his command to resume their bout, Dan felt the awareness of his situation suddenly magnify. If he believed that humans had a spirit, he would have believed it had exited his body, casting its vision beyond this bout, above the assembled student body, outside the basketball court and the high school building, continuing to ascend and expand until finally settling above the town of Bark Bay. The quiet village he had discovered by accident on a summer vacation, far both in distance and temperment from the bustling Chicago neighborhoods of his youth, the buzzing intellectuals he knew from college, the upwardly mobile communities of his first teaching jobs. None of his previous experiences had prepared him for life in Bark Bay, a place which appealed to none of his younger ambitions. If they had the right, his partents would have forbidden him to move there, had to settle instead for warnings, all of which turned out to be largely although not entirely accurate — There’s none of the high culture you like, museums and theaters. There’s no good restaruants. There’s no temples, you’ll be the only Jew for miles!
Dan knew he should return to the moment, bring his hands together and call for the resumption of the bout; decided instead to pause, let his spirit or awareness or whatever it was he was feeling remain a moment longer in its impossible location, hovering above the town where he’d lived for seven years. His mother’s voice from a phone call months, maybe years earelier — Is Bark Bay your home now? His answer had been awkward, Yeah I guess maybe, not because he felt uncomfortable but rather because it had never occurred to him to think of any place as home. Chicago, perhaps, it being the land of his youth, but his family had moved so often, always upgrading to nicer and bigger houses as his late father’s wealth increased, never staying in any one place long enough for him to form an emotional attachment. Certainly not any of the colleges he attended, or the cities and suburbs where he had taught after graduation. Making friends was never a problem for Dan, and wherever he went he would find a way to make himself a member of the community. A much harder task at Bark Bay, for sure, given that many people in town had seen him not as a stranger, but a foreigner. Yet even here, in this land so distant and different from any place he had ever lived, he had become an active participant.
As he was right now, returning to the moment at hand, his palms coming together and voice giving the command, “Fence.”