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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 04


DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.


Homework Philosophies

Garrison had three classes on Tuesday and Thursday. Basic Calculus was at 8 a.m. His second class, Advanced College Writing and Reading, wasn't until 11 a.m. He spent the time in between at the student union working on his calculus homework and eating breakfast. Calvin and Mariah joined him as they had the same schedule on those days.

Calvin was chowing on a bagel with peanut butter while drinking a Pepsi. Mariah had a croissant and a glass of sweet tea.

"Why are you working on your calculus homework now, Garrison?" Calvin asked between bites. "It's not due until next Tuesday."

"If I get it done now, then I won't have to worry about it over the weekend," Garrison explained.

Mariah reached for her book bag. "Garrison has a point."

Calvin took out his tablet. "I should get the paper Professor Slater assigned for tomorrow done before I start on calculus."

Mariah snorted. "Have you at least started on in it yet?"

Calvin's face twisted as if he'd just tasted something sour. "I've thought about what I'm going to write. I suppose you finished your paper."

"I finished it the first night," Mariah informed her boyfriend. She turned to Garrison and asked, "Have you finished your paper for Professor Slater?"

"I finished it last night," Garrison admitted with an apologetic glance at Calvin. "I wasn't sure what to write about until Professor Slater gave his lecture on Wednesday."

Garrison glanced at the clock in the upper right hand of his tablet screen. "It looks like I won't be getting this calculus done after all. It's time for English."

Mariah and Calvin answered Garrison's announcement with sighs and began packing their book bags.

Honors Seminar Surprise

College Writing was the only class Garrison had in his major field of study. However, it was not a course towards the credits he needed to complete in English to earn his degree. Instead, College Writing counted as a required University Studies class and could not be double-counted. Not taking the course was not an option. Garrison was glad he qualified for the Honors and Scholars Program at UNCW and could sign up for the honors level class.

Garrison did not have a break after College Writing. His third Tuesday Thursday class was his Freshman Honors Seminar. Garrison signed up to take The Power of Story. Calvin and Mariah, also in the Honors and Scholars Program, had each opted for a different seminar. Theirs met at the same time as Garrison's but in different places.

Much to Garrison's chagrin, Delaney signed up for the same seminar he did. As his bad luck would have it, Delaney was in all of his classes except his Monday Wednesday Physical Education class. Even there, she haunted him. Garrison signed up for Basic Tennis. He'd always wanted to learn the game.

Garrison took some small pleasure from the way Delaney's face puckered as if she'd tasted something sour when she walked into their Honors Seminar and saw him sitting there. He was astounded when she took the seat right behind his, leaned forward, and whispered, "At least I know somebody in this class, even if it is you."

Garrison leaned back in his seat and said, "By the way, what time is the practice match today?"

"Like you actually plan to show up," Delaney said with a voice full of scorn. "Don't do me any favors."

Tennis Knowledge?

"My PE class is in Basic Tennis and I figured it couldn't hurt to stop by and see how the game is played," Garrison shot back. "Don't worry. I won't even watch you play."

Delaney's eyes narrowed, and her lips curled into scowl. "We start at three o'clock. The match will probably go on for a while, but you don't have to stay the whole time. You can watch me play if you want. I don't really care."

Garrison wasn't surprised by Delaney's response to his question. He leaned forward and began to consider the idea of going to the match to watch the game played up close. He didn't know much about the game, and it wouldn't hurt to pick up some bits of knowledge before he started tennis class the next week.

What Garrison knew about tennis would have filled one side of a three-inch by five-inch index card filled out with a Sharpie. He knew a score of zero was called love. He knew that each time a player scored, they received fifteen points. He knew that it was a fault if you served and stepped over the line or hit the ball into the net. And he knew you could play one-on-one or two-on-two. The rest of the rules of tennis were foreign to him. Tennis hadn't been a part of his elementary or middle school curriculum. Garrison intended to learn, though. He also planned to repair the tennis court his grandparents built in the house's side yard.

Garrison arrived at the match that afternoon and was disappointed at the minute size of the crowd the tennis scrimmage drew. There was no way he could remain inconspicuous.

The school boasted nine outdoor courts set up in three rows of three. All were in use when Garrison arrived. A quick look at the activity taking place assured Garrison that he had no idea at all what was going on.


A Visit to the Courts

The audience for the game consisted primarily of coaches, boyfriends, and very few other students. There was a set of bleachers along one side of the fence surrounding the courts. Garrison assumed the location of the bleachers indicated where the most critical matches were being played.

Delaney is a freshman. I doubt she is playing on this side.

With such a thought in mind, Garrison made his way toward the far side of the tennis area. He stopped short when he saw Delaney on the far side of the second court.

Does being on the third or fourth court mean Delaney is the third or fourth-best player on the team. I had no idea she was such a good tennis player.

Garrison continued past the side of the courts to the far end, where a row of oak trees offered some shade from the summer sun.

"You look a little confused by all this," an older woman sitting in a camp chair emblazoned across the back with the UNCW logo commented to Garrison as he leaned against the oak tree with a view of the court Delaney was playing on.

Garrison laughed and said, "No, ma'am. I'm a lot confused."

"Pull up a piece of the ground, young man, and I'll try and fill you in."

Learning the Ropes, or the Nets

The woman, who introduced herself as Abilene Franklin, explained to Garrison how regular matches were seeded depending on challenge matches like this one played among the teammates. "By seeding the teams that way," Mrs. Franklin explained, "each player winds up playing someone with roughly the same talent and skill, theoretically."

Mrs. Franklin described how each pair of opponents played to be the first to win two out of three sets of games in a match, with each set being decided by the first player to win six games. "If this were a regular match, all the scores would be added up. The winning school is the one with the most overall points."

Garrison whistled through his teeth. "How long does the whole match usually take?"

Mrs. Franklin's brows rose, and she laughed. "With two good teams, a match could easily go for three hours."

"I can't stay here that long today," Garrison lamented as he checked the time on his cell phone. "When they start playing for real, I'd like to come to see one of their games."

Garrison had been paying attention to Mrs. Franklin's explanation of the game while he watched the girls play, so he wasn't sure what point in the match the girls were at currently. Not until Mrs. Franklin exclaimed, "Good for you, Dela! Way to go!" did Garrison realize something important was happening or had happened.

"Which one is Dela, and what did she do?" Garrison asked.

Mrs. Franklin pointed toward the court Delaney was playing on. "My granddaughter Delaney won her first set six games to two."

Garrison focused on Delaney, who was looking his way with a mixture of confusion and something else Garrison couldn't quite put his finger on. The girl looked up from him to her grandmother, smiled and waved at the older woman, and then prepared to continue the match.

"Do you know my granddaughter?" Mrs. Franklin asked once Delaney started playing again.

"We have several classes together," Garrison explained. "We'll be seeing each other every day." He frowned and got to his feet. "I'm afraid your granddaughter doesn't like me much. I should probably go."

Mrs. Franklin cocked her head and regarded the boy carefully. "You're Garrison, the boy in Delaney's class. She mentioned you at dinner last night. According to Delaney, you're a smart guy but kind of obnoxious. Why do you think she doesn't like you?"

Garrison picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. "It's nothing, really. Delaney acts like I'm beneath her notice or something. And she never uses my real name. She always calls me 'Gary.' This morning, she even said she didn't expect me to show up for this challenge match."

Mrs. Franklin pursed her lips. "Be honest with me, Garrison. Were you planning to come and watch what is basically a practice match?"

"No, ma'am," Garrison responded. "But not because I don't like Delaney. I didn't even know students were allowed to come and watch the team practice. When I found out we could, I thought it would be a good chance to see the game up close before I start tennis classes in PE next week."

"I see," Mrs. Franklin said in a voice that left Garrison with some doubt about whether she accepted his answer.

His phone vibrated, and at a glance, Garrison noted it was time for him to head home for the day. "It was very nice meeting you, Mrs. Franklin. Thank you for teaching me about tennis matches."

"It was a pleasure meeting you, young man. I hope to see you at some real competitions as the season goes on."

There's not much chance of me showing up at a match, Garrison thought but didn't say. Instead, he waved and hustled away toward where his car was waiting.

The story continues in Chapter 05.

© 2020 DW Davis


DW Davis (author) from Eastern NC on December 10, 2020:


The more interesting parts are yet to come.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on December 10, 2020:

Enjoying the story and it's expanding the story line too.

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