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"Abby," said Dennis, "your first event is in half an hour. It's fly distance casting, and it's just to give you a little experience before we go on to the accuracy events. This should be easy for you. Come on, I'll you set up on the grass over there so you can warm up."

Izumi took a seat at one of the picnic tables to rest as her daughter prepared herself. John sat down beside his wife, while Terry hung back and watched with Jake.

"Have you ever been to one of these things?" Jake asked him.

"No, never," replied Terry, stepping out of the way for a man carrying a long fly rod.

On the lawn, Abby did a few stretching exercises and then accepted her rod, which Dennis had been looking over one last time. Then the nervous instructor joined Terry and Jake.

"I feel as though I'm the one who's on trial, and not Abby," said Dennis with half a smile. "I've never coached anyone before-- not like this."

"If she fails," wondered Terry, "what will happen to you?"

"Nothing I can't recover from," smiled Dennis, in a hushed voice so Abby couldn't overhear. "I make my living by instructing others. If Abby doesn't do well, it will reflect on my skill as a teacher, and others will be slower to hire me as an instructor. Depending on how badly she performed, it would probably set back my career a bit. But, like I said, I'd recover. Don't repeat that to Abby, though. She has enough pressure to deal with right now."

Terry glanced soberly at Jake and then back to the green where their Abby was practicing her casts. John bought cold drinks for everyone at one of the concession stands, while Abby sat on the ground, making sure her flies were securely attached to the leaders. Dennis nervously paced near the picnic table with his cold drink, checking his watch every minute or two for their first event to start. Jake waited with the others until they heard a loudspeaker announce for the contestants of the fly distance casting event to assemble on the open grass field near the fishing depot.

Abby got to her feet, picked up her rod, and followed Dennis to the grass field where the other women in the event were gathering. Just as in the mens division, many of the women were middle-aged or elderly.

"Stay calm," instructed Dennis, as the competition began.

One woman after another was called to the casting box, (a white square painted on the grass), while people gathered around to watch. Since there were very few women entered in the event, the call "Open Box!" came sooner than Abby expected.

"You're up," said Dennis, taking a deep breath.

Abby made her way through the crowd and stepped into the casting box. A judge holding a clipboard stood close by, prepared to score her performance. The judge nodded to her to start, and Abby suddenly felt sick. What happened next was a blur to her, and it was over before she knew it. Abby looked at the judge, and then to Dennis, who's face was very somber. She looked out in the distance to see where her fly had landed, for she was being graded on distance-- an easy task for her. But to Abby's dismay, her cast had landed dismally close to where she stood. In fact, she had cast the shortest distance in the entire event. Her confidence shaken, Abby's next distances resulted in equally disappointing scores. The young woman was crushed. This should have been one of her best events-- one that she knew she excelled at.

"You're released from the box," said the judge.

Humiliated upon failing at something that normally came so easily to her, Abby passed through the crowd, not wanting to speak to anyone. People shook their heads, and some mumbled, "Better luck, next year, lady."

"Was it that bad?" Terry asked a very grave Dennis.

Dennis sighed and shook his head.

"I don't know what went wrong," he said, thoughtfully. "Where's Abby? Have you seen her?"

"Have either of you seen Jake?" asked John, as Izumi looked about the field for the two missing people.
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