Left hand out, right hand pulls, deep breath, pause, release. Tension leaves, then a soft thud.

"Hey Garik," a boy greets, hopping up on the picnic table, black and white canvas shoes resting on the bench.

"Hmm," the archer responds, pulling another arrow from the ground quiver and nocking it.

Hold, pull, breathe, release. Thud. Garik's dark eyes don't leave the multicolored circle downrange as a light breeze ruffles his short brown hair.

"I think I'm going to run away and join the circus," he starts, knowing Garik won't mind listening to him complain.

"Hmm," Garik says, meaning he should continue, while nocking another arrow with a barely audible snap.

"I failed another test today. History, this time. And I even studied. Well, I studied some. And I'm pretty sure the grade will be the exact same as when I didn't study." A lock of dirty-blond hair finds its way into the pouting mouth.

Hold, pull, breathe, aim. Release. Thud.

"Mmm," Garik's mouth twinges slightly, almost an expression of sympathy. The boy knows he's caught Garik's attention.

"So I was thinking I'd take up cannons. Not shooting them, but being shot from them. It seems like a pretty easy gig, and I won't have to know stuff for it. Obviously my brain isn't wired to learn boring crap."

Hold, pull, breathe, pause.

"Just imagine! My name in neon lights, with things like 'amazing' or 'incredible' after it, for no other reason than an inability to retain any useful knowledge." The boy is caught up in his fantasy, not realizing he interrupts until Garik glances at him.

Let down. Two calm breaths.

"Sorry!" The boy cringes, cheeks pinkening.

Garik's right shoulder lifts in a shrug. The boy presses his hands, left over right, tightly to his mouth, watching Garik's careful control and practiced form.

Hold, pull, breathe. Aim. Release. Thud.

Steady brown eyes meet restless blue, prompting the boy to continue.

"Oh! So I was planning on leaving next week or sometime, when my folks are out of town. Then I have to find a circus that'll take me. And I need to make sure that I'm cannon-proof--it would suck to die from being shot from a cannon. And after all that, it's smooth sailing!" He throws himself backwards with a pleased sigh, head hitting the table with a lout thump, arms spread eagle. When he hears the snap of the arrow being nocked, however, he props himself up on his elbows.

Hold, pull. Breathe. Aim. Release. Thud.

All five arrows cast shadows across the lower left quarter of the target, protruding from the innermost circle.

"Wow," the boy is impressed, "Fifty points."

Garik just shrugs, slips off the bow-sling, pockets the black finger tab, and sets the wooden recurve bow gently on the stand.

Left hand on the target, right on an arrow, pulling straight back. Repeat four more times.

"What're you gonna do now?" The boy watches everything Garik does, not hiding his admiration very well.

"I'm going to shoot again." Garik's voice is always soft.

This makes the boy pause. He looks down towards the target and can see holes all over the cover, mainly clustered in the center, but some mar the outer white circles. He understands.

"Thanks Garik! See you 'round!" The sound of his feet fade as Garik walks back to the quiver and replaces the arrows.

Garik smiles, slides on the finger tab, pics up the bow, and tightens the bow sling.

"Funny guy," he chuckles, then holds the bow in front of him, pulls the string to his face, takes a deep breath, aims, and releases. Thud. Ten points.