With one more jolt and every strength left in her body, she jabbed her weapon at her opponent. Her eyes and focus never strayed from his movements, anticipating the next strike. Just like she had been taught, her breathing had been steady throughout the whole match, just like it was supposed to be.

Another jab and another one.

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She knew she wasn’t focused enough. This was confirmed when her opponent gained another point.

The match was over and she lost… again.

She took off her headgear and with a stare full of gloom and anger she looked at him. Aly, the person she hated the most in this entire training hall.

A scream hovered inside of her and upon smothering that shrilling noise that wanted to escape, she sat down on the bench once again defeated. She glanced over to her coach who was on his way to give her his piece of mind.

‘Samia!’ he said with icy fury, leading his left hand over his beard.

‘Coach,’ she answered coolly.

‘You never do what I tell you to do! Look for his weakness! And your posture is completely incorrect. You look like a grandmother poking someone with her stick. Focus! Focus! Focus!’ he shouted.

She was fed up from his treatment. It wasn’t usually the case between them so whatever the attitude, clearly this was personal. Someone had driven a wedge between them and she already guessed who it was.

‘Pack your stuff and go home. You’re done for the day!’ he said as he waved her away.

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After Samia changed and was on her way to leave the Cairo Stadium, Aly’s eyes and hers met briefly. He had a mocking smirk on his face. Everything about him was revolting; his face, his voice and even his friends.

As she left Cairo Stadium and got home, she didn’t spend another minute thinking about how much she hated him, but thought of how tired she was. Like a magnet, Samia was drawn to her bed and passed out immediately.

When Samia woke up, she didn’t know where and when she was. Her head shot up in shock, straining her neck. The first thing she grabbed was her phone. With squinting eyes Samia looked at the bright screen, realizing it was already Friday, 7:30 in the morning. She guessed her mom must’ve let her sleep in. ‘Thank God it’s the weekend, she thought to herself.

She remembered, however, that she had plans to meet up with Sundus, her best friend. Samia texted her although she knew Sundus would probably still be asleep.

‘Hey S, are we still on for today? Lunch, then go watch a movie? Good morning sleepy head!

Samia dropped her phone to the side in attempt to get out of bed and freshen up, but before the minute was out, her phone beeped. Sundus had already answered her text message.

Strange, she thought, Sundus was never one to let an opportunity slip through her fingers to get more sleep.

The message read ‘Hey Sam good morning to you too! Rain check? I’m pretty occupied today. How about we just meet up tomorrow?’

Samia was baffled, not at the sudden change of plans, but wondering what Sundus was doing at 7:30 on a Friday. After several minutes had passed, Samia finally decided to call her and see what was so important.

‘Hey S, good morning. You’re up early today?’ Samia greeted her friend.

‘Hi Sam,’ she exclaimed, with an unexpected thrilling enthusiasm. ‘You won’t believe where I am right now! I’m at your fencing quarters! Aly invited me to watch’.

Sundus was whispering now, trying to hide the fact that she was talking on the phone gushing over Aly. Samia rolled her eyes relieved that Sundus could not see her at this very moment. Samia had always hoped that Sundus’ crush on Aly would eventually fade away at some point, once she realizes what a douchebag he really was, but that realization hadn’t taken place yet. As displeased as she was, she buried her bias and continued the phone call.

‘Aly,’ she repeated, ‘Right! What did he invite you to exactly? We don’t have training on Fridays. Please don’t tell me you’re alone there watching him?’.

More of watching him show off his disastrous skills in fencing, Samia thought. She knew Sundus was just there to boost Aly’s ego; he loved the attention more than anything. Actually, even if a puppy so much as looked at him he would flex off.

‘No, No, I’m here for this sponsorship thing. The trainer gathered everyone, because a sponsor flew in from France to pick a player for the next World Fencing Championship. Whoever catches his eye gets to go to for the Olympic Fencing Team trials as well’.

Samia could not believe what she just heard. Is this actually happening?, she asked herself. This seemed ridiculous to her. Surely he hadn’t gone to such lengths to sabotage her career as a professional fencer. She let out a scoff in disbelief and asked her friend what she meant by sponsorship.

Sundus replied in a very haphazard manner, ‘Well he told me this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, which he doesn’t want to blow, this seems like a big deal to him,’ she laughed, again with the gushing. Samia couldn’t bare it any longer.

‘And you didn’t think it suspicious that I wasn’t there? You didn’t stop and think ‘hey where’s my best friend? She likes fencing too, she should be here as well if this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, jeez where could she be?’ You know how much fencing means to me! You should’ve  guessed that something was off,’ Samia’s voice now reached a higher, more agitated tone.

‘I don’t know Sam… I just thought you weren’t interested or something’ Samia had now realized that Sundus had sunken deeper into the ‘Aly Bubble’ than she thought. ‘NOT Interested? How naïve are you? That loser has you wrapped around his finger, of course he would do something like this. I’m coming over!’

End of Part one