“You must be like the berries in the winter,” her mentor said as she gestured toward the wall they were walking past. The berries stood out with their red stems against the worn wall. The leaves had fallen a month ago.
“Poisonous?” That didn’t seem like a very good thing to be nor a lesson that she should be learning. She must have misread her assigned text again last night. In fairness, she had been very tired from her chores.
“No.” The exasperation was clear in her mentor’s voice and in the rubbing of her temples with the pads of her fingers. “Not poisonous. Hardy. You must be able to thrive even when it seems like there is no hope. You must push yourself and never give up. Like these berries. You must be the hope of life when there only seems to be death.”
“Oh.” Jasmin looked at the berries again. This time they seemed brighter than they had before. “I’m not sure I can do all of that. It sounds…”
“Yes?” Her mentor’s voice was soft, but it demanded an answer.
“It sounds like more than I can do.” She looked up at her mentor quickly, before looking back down at her feet as they continued to walk, their boots crunching on the last leaves of autumn. “But I’ll try not to let you down.”
“I know. And you can do it, or I would not have chosen you.”
At this Jasmin smiled and though she could not see it because she was still looking at her feet, her mentor did, too, before she looked back up towards the sun struggling to break through the clouds.