robertisenberg

By the Sword: 2

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Photograph of public park, Dubrovnik.

So when our cat, Oscar, decided to relieve himself into the synthetic fabric, I sighed, because I know our story was truly over.

An amateur carpenter, Kylan needed space for her new workbench, and our small house didn’t yield room for a four-foot sack filled with fake swords. Long ago, I would bristle at this description – fencing is a serious sport – but at age 30, I knew to put away childish things. There was no time for training and tournaments, registering with the USFA and earning back my D rating, a triumph that now meant nothing to people.

On Monday night, Kylan said gently, “It’s bulk day.”

I knew what she meant. My fencing gear had become bulk – dead weight, a stumbling block for progress. So I huffed down to the basement and slung the bag over my shoulder. I stepped into the court, feeling the strangely familiar weight. The masks, always heaviest, bunched at the bottom and bounced against my calves. And as I crossed the court, I felt a surge of memory.

I met my best friends wearing this equipment. Strapped into that white coat – now yellowed with age and mildew – I crouched, advanced, retreated, lunged. My fleche was deadly – I would charge my opponent and whip his shoulder as I passed, landing my touch a split-second before flying off the strip. Hundreds of times, I snaked my orange electrical cord through my left sleeve, connecting it to the outlet in my foil’s hilt. Hundreds of times, I drew the hilt to my nose, then swept diagonally downward – a salute to my opponents that audibly slashed the air. And this lame – the one I carried, that I would never see again – sustained so many thousands of touches, stabs, flicks, whips. The straps were weathered, but the cotton was as strong as ever.

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