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The artist's conception of himself this morning.

The artist's conception of himself this morning.

I have this friend…

This friend seems to have it in his mind that it is his job the make me try things.  Life things.  He tried to teach me to ski (he’s an expert skier).  I fell down a lot.  He tried to teach me to play squash (he’s also an expert squash player).  I fell down a lot and got hit by the ball.  Today, he tried to teach me how to mountain bike (he rides a $3000 bike and leaps over trees with it).  You can imagine what happened next.

He spent most of the two hours waiting at the top or bottom of a hill.  Either I was huffing and puffing my way up (and occasionally falling over), or I was granny-braking my way down it (and occasionally falling over).  The guy is so stupidly upbeat and chipper (think a happier versions of Ned Flanders without the low-level moral judgment thing) that even by the end of the two hour ride, when I was smashing my pedal into a rock and falling over for the billionth time, he was still shouting encouragements.

They were distant encouragements, of course, since he was three kilometers ahead of me and using his bike to scale a sheer rock cliff, but they were still encouragements.

The thing I like about this guy is that he takes risks.  Not only that, he makes me take risks too.  If you hand him a challenge he’ll be off and running with it before you can say “self-preservation.”  If you stick a mountain in front of him, he’ll climb it, just to see if he can do it.  Throw an ocean in his way and he’ll swim it just to see if he’ll make it to the other shore.

And if you happen to be standing next to him when he spots the giant alligator, he’s going to make you wrestle it too.

Emily sat silently.  After a while, Sofia stood up, rubbing at her back.

“I’m tired, Emily.  And I’m old.  But you, your future is broad and bright before you.  I can see that much at least.  But it is also a dangerous one, and you already have the marks to prove that.”

Emily touched the faded bruise on her face.  She felt like her mind was overfull of thoughts.  Nothing seemed to make sense anymore.

“I’m going to meet the Mayor,” she said finally.  “I’ll be careful, and I’ll have my knife with me in case something happens.”  An image of blood flowing from the wounds on her two attackers ran across her mind, and Emily shuddered slightly.

“Trust in your feet instead,” Sofia told her, “and run.”