The Water of Courage

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“What are you waiting for?” asked Sophie with an amused smile.
“It’s cold!” protested her cousin Claudia.
The shivering teenager was standing hesitantly at the water’s edge, trying to warm herself up by rubbing her arms against each other. She would have prefered to be still lying peacefully on her towel, lazing in the sun with her dark glasses on her nose and a good book in her hands. But Sophie had insisted they should at least dip their toes in the water. As a result Sophie was now completely soaked and laughing her head off. Yes, really laughing! Claudia watched her. She definitely did not understand Sophie, and Sophie did not understand her either. Never mind that they thought the world of each other, and were like the sister neither of them had ever had. The two cousins were still as different from one another as could be.
“Are you serious? It’s never been as warm as this.”
“So you think 16 degrees is warm?” asked Claudia.
Sophie, who was floating, suddenly plunged down into the water, laughing hilariously. Her cousin could be so set in her ways sometimes! She was far too fond of her comfort and her little habits. She was no doubt a bit afraid. After all, she was only a sixteen-year-old kid, whose life was only just beginning.
“Come on! What are you waiting for?” asked Sophie.
“For it to be more than 25 degrees!” replied Claudia with heavy irony, now hopping from one foot to the other in an attempt to get warm, or at least to get used to the temperature of the water.
“We’re not in the Med here! The sea is 17 degrees, it’s windy, and the weather is changeable. But it’s beautiful. Are you never going to try anything? You have to be brave in life, darling. At first, that might just mean swimming in the North Sea, then you get more confident, you push yourself a bit, you take a step further. That might mean traveling, going far away to study, taking a job on the other side of the world, writing, painting, unveiling your talents, opening yourself up to others. Don’t let fear hold you back. Can’t you feel the adrenalin gripping your stomach when you do something that terrifies you? Try, and make the most of life’s small pleasures.”
Claudia was lost for words. Sophie herself was astonished by her own speech, especially as, like Claudia, she was not the sort of person who liked to be preached at. But she was far from imagining the importance her opinion held for her cousin.
Who, with determination, walked into the turquoise water up to her waist, turned to her cousin in a provocative manner, and dived in.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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Marcheur · ago
What a beautiful lesson of life.