Disengage

Today’s prompt from The Daily Post: Test

“Here’s what you do.” As she talked, Annie removed the band that was losing its grip on her brown ponytail. “Extend your arm, like you’re trying to hit me, but keep the rest of your body quiet, don’t lunge yet. Wait for OK to bring her blade over to parry, then loosen your grip a little, let gravity drop the blade.” Band secured and ponytail once again riding pertly behind her head, Annie lowered her arms down to her side. “Start your lunge, and bring the blade up on the other side of hers. Understand?”

Standing to Annie’s left and several feet across from where Aurora O’Kelley waited in full fencing gear, The Bird nodded slowly, and said she guessed she was ready.

“Just take it slow.” OK’s voice raised in tone with each word. “Have some fun!”

The Bird nodded again, then placed her gray mask over her head. Securing the lower end under her chin, she then saw Annie offering her a foil. “The disengage is one of the most effective attacks in fencing.” The Bird noticed Annie was speaking in the same cadence as Coach Dan. “It’s all about timing and execution, not speed or strength.” Annie then commanded The Bird into en garde position, and waved OK closer.

“Extend.” At Annie’s prompt, The Bird propelled her slender body forward, stopping at Annie’s order to halt. “Don’t lunge yet, just extend.” The Bird stepped back, her apology dismissed by Annie’s waving hand. “Don’t show me you’re sorry, show me the correction. Extend.” The Bird brought her arm forward, a toothpick holding on to a match; Annie grasped the blade, directed its point at OK. “Aim at the target, always.” Still holding the blade, Annie looked over at OK — “Now parry.” Bringing her arm across her body and rotating, OK brought her foil towards The Bird’s. Annie let go of the blade, then grabbed The Bird’s wrist — “Keep your arm steady, just loosen your grip on the handle.”

The Bird realized she was completely under Annie’s command, obeying her instructions like a robot. As she unflexed her fingers, and watched the thin blade of her foil fall like a clock’s minute hand, she glanced over at Annie, whose eyes watched approvingly. The Bird sensed she was being tested, not so much for her ability to perform this action but rather for her coachability. OK’s blade continued along its path, passing over The Bird’s blade; Annie released her grip — “Now bring up the blade, and lunge.”

The Bird felt her body come forward, as if cords on her back had been suddenly cut, and her blade came up as if it were leading her. Her foot landed softly, as did the point of her blade, landing squarely on OK’s jacketed chest. “Cool!” OK’s smile was visible behind her gray mask. “That was awesome!”

Standing and bringing her foil back towards her, The Bird looked over at Annie. “Well done,” the sophomore said, her lips tight but eyes betraying a smile.

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