A Tennis Lesson🎾
A flyby fiction about perseverance
The silence of the cold winter frost was broken by an ever-so-comforting ray of warm sunshine. Mia was jolted out of her sweet, bear-like hibernation and was ready to take on a new challenge. It was as if she could sense the light of spring awakening among us all.
She walked to work through Central Park in the comforting winter-spring sun as the sound of rubber hitting the turf snapped her out of her trance. CLUCK-POP. She stood there mesmerized, watching the tennis practice go on for five straight minutes, which, in Manhattan time, could be considered five straight hours. The tennis court was a synthetic oasis in the middle of the bustling city. A patch of vibrant green surrounded by towering skyscrapers. The nets fluttered slightly in the breeze as the sound of balls plucking strings pulsed to a rhythmic heartbeat amidst the city’s soundscape. She realized she was late. It didn’t take her much brainstorming to think of what her next challenge would be. By lunchtime, she was browsing tennis rackets on Amazon.com.
In the gym that evening, all she could think about was a new racket. The next day, during lunch, she stopped by a local racket shop in midtown to try some of them out. A few minutes later, she became the proud owner of a peach and yellow graphite sculpture, more work of art than sports equipment. A wide grin erupted in her face.
She lingered by the courts on the way home from the gym that evening, this time with a racket in hand. There were about twenty or so twenty-thirty-somethings burning the rubber. All moving in different silhouettes of a ballet crescendo. The balls bounced back and forth like an amateur performance of their own.
Mia was hooked.
She waited for the class to finish and walked up to a tall, slender, middle-aged man who, for some reason, had the appearance of a coach.
“Hey, I’m interested in joining a group. Are you the coach around here?”
“Umm…” replied the tall man in a deep baritone voice.
“Sorry. I don’t work here,” he mumbled as he scurried away like a mouse.
“Oh, sorry! Do you know who does?”
Too late. He was already gone.
Welcome to New York City.
She looked around, confused, then spotted an old Asian-looking man standing serenely in the corner, smiling.
“Weird, wonder what he wants,” she thought.
Suddenly, an athletic woman in her mid-thirties ran up in a pair of retro tiger shoes and started shouting — “All right. Let’s go. Let’s go!” Her jet-black hair snapping snakishly like a swinging whip.
“We don’t have all day people! Let’s Move.”
Mia looked around nervously. Seems like the next session had started. She started to sneak away until she heard a shout piercing through in her direction.
“You! Court #3, far end.”
“But.. I don’t.”
“Chop, chop, MOVE!”
Mia gulped. With her gym clothes still on and racket still wrapped in its packaging, she found herself in the game now. Guess it was time to try out the new racket.
It’s not that she had never played before, but it had certainly been over a decade. And she never really took any serious lessons before.
Here we go.
“Alright everyone, you know the drill,” shouted the apparent coach. “30 pushups. Let’s go!”
Mia was confused. Pushups? She had just come from an hour-long gym class and thrust into boot camp!? What was happening?
Joanna, the coach, walked over angrily, “Alright missy, go go go, this isn’t a Christmas parade.”
Joanna was out for blood.
“You look new. Have you ever played before?”
“Umm, yes. I mean, not for a while.”
“What level are you?”
“Let me see your swing.”
Joanna dropped a few balls and then asked Mia to hit them as the others continued to swivel up and down in a rhythmic worm-like motion.
Still nervous, she smashed them hard. A bit too hard. 2 out of 3 went over the net. One went out of the ground, and another landed right inside the baseline. Not bad, she thought.
“Are you really an intermediate? I’d say improver at best. Maybe even a false beginner. Definitely not intermediate,” snapped Joanna.
Mia was taken aback. She found this coach a tad bit rude, and the comments chipped away at her confidence.
“This group is for intermediates only.”
“Yes, well that’s what I was trying to...”
“Come back tomorrow morning. 8 am. We’ll do a 1:1 session. It will be $50 per class. Finish your pushups first.”
Unsure of what just happened, Mia started questioning this whole tennis idea.
“I thought this was supposed to be fun,” she thought, “And cheaper!”
She went home and hit the bed, knackered.
The morning arrived faster than a Shinkansen bullet train. She rushed out of her cramped Manhattan apartment and glided into the courts. It felt a bit like having a job before her job.
Eager to commence the training and finally try out her new racket, she entered the courts, trying to forget about the “mishap” from last night. Joanna was already waiting.
“You are two minutes late missy.”
“Oh.. Umm, it’s Mia, and I was just..” Joanna cut her off, “Save it. Next time, don’t bother showing up. Drop the racket, let’s start with 30 pushups.”
Here we go again.
After what seemed like 30 minutes of intense cardio (Manhattan time), she wondered if she was ever going to be able to get a swing in.
Halfway in, she looked around the other courts longingly, and found all the other students to be having an amazing time with their respective coaches and actually playing tennis. “How in the world did I end up with Joanna?” she pondered.
“Are we ever going to play some tennis?” she asked in frustration.
“Tennis? How can you play tennis when you don’t know how to run. You need to learn to run first. If you can’t catch the ball, what’s the point?”
“But I already know how to run.”
“Ok, let’s see you move then,” snapped Joanna.
She made Mia burn the rubber for a few more minutes before she brought out the bucket of balls.
“Alright, let’s see what you’ve got improver.”
Joanna switched to the other court and started smashing aces that were clearly not intended for someone at a beginner/improver/intermediate level. It was as if she was channeling some prior resentment into her coaching.
This isn’t going well, thought Mia. Being an expert and teaching others were two completely different skills.
She managed to clip one. It edged back up, outside the court.
The rest just went all over the place. After running circles around the court trying to catch the ball, Mia was exhausted.
“Back to pushups,” shouted Joanna with a sharp look.
This continued for a few days; the sessions got more and more intense, and there was no break. Joanna was running Mia like a workhorse, and Mia felt as if she was training for the US Open, or more likely, the Olympic gold in track. She considered buying a pair of Nike shoes to fit the theme.
A few weeks later, she was starting to feel a pain in her shoulder. She mentioned it to Joanna.
“It’s fine; just ice it.”
And they continued the gauntlet. The session went on, and it was clear Mia was starting to hate the game she wasn’t even getting to play.
She headed off to work, her mind a whirl of confusion. Her shoulder aching even more from the unusual motions of swinging the racket. She headed straight to the snow room to apply some ice.
“Is this what this place is for?” she thought to herself, standing in the Snow Room of the opulent Bubblesoft office. A monument to the cold, a room full of ice peaks, cold mist, and footsteps in the snow, submerging you within the depths of an ice cave regardless of the day, time, or season.
She tried to quickly sneak out, slightly embarrassed to be using the ice room everyone thought was completely ridiculous. “Why do we even have this here!?” is what everyone would say.
“Getting some Ice, are we?” inquired a familiar voice from behind.
“Seb! I didn’t see you there,” she blushed, somewhat embarrassed. “Just trying to cool down my arms. I had a tennis lesson.”
“You play tennis?”
“I was trying to, but I’m not sure anymore. This coach is horrible! All I do is run around while she shouts at me.”
“Let me guess, Joanna?”
“Yes! How did you know?”
“Trust me. You want to fire her ASAP. It only gets worse.”
“I can’t even begin to explain. Get out while you still can.”
Mia chuckled nervously but also didn’t take Seb too seriously. She had heard this story before.
“Isn’t that what you keep saying about Bubblesoft, Seb?”
“Oh yeah. You bet! Bubblesoft is a cult. No doubt. Why else do they call us Bubblers? I’m outta here!”
“I’m going to start my own business soon,” he affirmed.
Mia chuckled, “Sure Seb.”
“I’m sure we’ll be having this same conversation again next month.”
Seb was now a bit flustered. Seems like he needed to make a move. What was he waiting for, the Year of the Tiger?
“We’ll see about that. Anyway, I know of a really good tennis coach. He’s a bit… different. I’ll tell him to get in touch with you.”
“Sure, thanks a bunch Seb! I’d be happy to go with anyone other than Joanna,” she smiled, “Anything would be a step up from this!” now relieved she wouldn’t have to go through this debacle again.
Seb nodded. “You bet. Oh, before you go, how’s the new guy doing?”
“You mean Max?”
“I don’t know, something’s off with him. He always seems to be moping around, and hovering around my screen, trying to see what I’m upto. I feel like he might be more interested in my job than managing the project.”
Seb chuckled, “Yeah, I think he hates it here. I should probably have a word with him someday.”
“Or.... maybe he just likes you,” he teased.
“Oh, what!? no way, I doubt that. I’m sure he would have said something by now.”
“You’d be surprised Meow! You’d be surprised!”
She had a weird Deja-Vu. As if she’d had felt this all before. Around the same time last year. Perhaps it was just the spell of the seasons.
Mia was awakened the next morning by an abrupt text from Joanna at 7am.
“No availability at 8am, can you make 7:45?”
Make that 2 more.
“Actually, make it 7:30.”
“See you court 3”.
Mia, now getting quite annoyed. “Who does she think she is? The nerve! That’s my slot, how can she just give it away.”
She texted back furiously.
“Hi Joanna, I won’t be able to join any more sessions. I’ve decided to try out another coach.”
Her heart pounded as she got an instant reply.
“Ok. Can I please ask why you would do something like this?”
Mia thought this was a bit unprofessional.
“Hello???” flew in a second text.
She now panicked, clearly not a fan of confrontation. “It’s just my work schedule is changing a bit, and I won’t be able to make those slots anymore.”
“We can arrange a different time, no problem.”
Yikes, maybe she should have just told the truth.
“It’s just... I’ve already scheduled something with the other coach.”
“Cancel it then.”
She tried ignoring it.
“Are you still able to make 7:30 today?”
No dice. She would have to face her fears head-on.
“Sorry Joanna, I would like to try a different style of learning. I’ll get back to you if I need another session, thanks for all the coaching!”
Joanna stopped responding, as Mia’s heart was still pounding.
Phew thought Mia. That was close. A bit too close.
She started wondering, “Maybe I was a bit rough on Joanna; she didn’t have the best people skills, but she had managed to get me in top shape after all.”
Ding. Another text arrived.
“Cancellation policy is 24 hours. Please transfer $50.”
Never mind. Mia was now fuming.
That evening, she walked past the courts disheartened, looking enviously at all the students who seemed to just flow effortlessly, like their bodies were made of elastic bands.
“Mia, I’ve been expecting you,” echoed a calm, serene voice, seemingly coming out of nowhere, yet at the same time, filling every corner of the courts with an omnipresent surround sound.
She turned around to find the old man she saw on her first day at court.
“Oh, you have?” quizzed Mia.
“Yes, our mutual friend Seb told me you were interested in some tennis lessons.”
“Oh, yes. Yes, I was.”
She was surprised and didn’t think of this man as a coach. He was dressed in a beige robe and didn’t even have a tennis racket. She thought he was just an elderly man walking by every now and then. But there was something about the smile on his face. So serene, yet so confident. It could only follow that he must know something.
“Of course, let’s get started then,” said the old man.
“Right now? But I wasn’t expecting to play right away.”
“Then what are you doing at the tennis courts Mia?”
“Sure… I suppose I can play right now. It’s just that I’ve already spent my budget for the day, unfortunately.”
“Excellent, I like your spirit, Mia! And don’t worry, consider it on the house,” he smiled.
Mia was taken aback by the generosity, a complete contrast to her previous coach.
“What’s your name?” asked Mia.
“You can just call me Kai,” he said with a smile.
“Sure thing, Kai.”
Mia stepped out with intense fervor, ready to jump into the action; all that training with Joanna had made her a bit jumpy.
She dropped down to the ground, ready to grind out some pushups.
“Relax Mia, where are you off to? We shall start with a few deep breaths.”
Mia blushed, “Oh, right, sure thing Kai.”
A few minutes in, they were both doing what seemed like a Tai Chi routine. Mia was now confused again. First, it was boot camp with Joanna, and now Tai-Chi with Kai. Would she ever get to play any tennis? Well, at least this one was free.
After a few minutes, she started to feel calm, more focused, and weirdly “in the zone.”
“Let’s hit a few balls,” said Kai.
He brought his bucket out of nowhere and placed a bullseye on the other side of the court. Aim for this, please.
“But I’m still learning…”
“You need to believe Mia. Trust that you already know enough.”
“Ok, trust. Sure thing, Kai!”
Kai tossed a few balls, and Mia lasered in on them like a hawk. Smash. The first one curved swiftly over the net and bounced straight into the target. Again. Boom! Three in a row.
Mia didn’t know what was happening. She had suddenly gone from frustrated to fierce, all in the blink of an eye.
“Very good, Mia,” smiled Kai. “You seem to have done this before. That was some terrific top spin.”
Mia blushed and smiled.
She suddenly felt a surge of energy, and her joy for the game started emerging again. She immediately realized how big an impact a good coach could have. She was now eager to play every morning again, and her enthusiasm had returned like the sounds of the birds chirping in the early spring sun. The snow peaks had melted, and her world was waking up again.
She got into it, really, really into it. She started practicing at home. Shadow swings, real swings, hitting balls against the walls, floors, and ceilings, annoying her neighbors, watching Wimbledon on repeat in her spare time, and, of course, considering going pro each day in a few heated minutes of debate with herself.
She even spent a few days creating a custom vibration dampener for her racket, with some bells on it. Taking the foot off the pedal and training with Kai had made her find the sweet spot between effort and rest, between productivity and purpose.
She was now in love with the game again and ready to play with passion.
Mia had found love for the game and a newfound love for life itself.
The weeks went by in a breeze. Mia got better and better; she found her whole life improving mysteriously. The discipline, training, and daily wisdom from Kai was working its magic without the forceful effort of the struggles with Joanna.
She even thought about entering the local tournament. She was ready for another challenge, and her competitive spirit was taking flight. There was only one problem. She couldn’t get her serve right.
After practicing ferociously for weeks, she found herself repeating the same mistakes from before. She had never managed to learn how to serve properly before, and now it was only getting worse.
“It feels like I’m fighting against myself Kai. No matter how hard I try, I can’t shake off my old way of serving.”
Kai walked over patiently, calm and observant.
“Old habits are the hardest to break, Mia. Sometimes, we need to spend more time unlearning what isn’t serving us anymore. No pun intended, of course,” he guffawed wildly as Mia chuckled.
“Practicing an incorrect technique will only ingrain incorrect habits deeper, you see.”
“Yes, that makes sense. I’m just not sure to know how to change it.”
“A long time ago, I had a student named O-nami, a sumo wrestler. He was a fierce warrior, but afraid of the grand stage, afraid of the roaring crowds. Soon, his fear turned into a habit, and it became second nature. Anytime he would enter the stage, he would freeze.”
“O-nami? Sumo?” asked Mia, confused. “I didn’t know you were a sumo wrestler, Kai.”
“I have been in many places, Mia,” he said with a mysterious smile. “It’s all connected.”
“Oh, that’s wild, Kai. How did O-nami overcome his fear then?”
“He learned to channel the energy of his fear, summoning the great waves of the ocean. Instead of running from the roar, he learned to ride it, to use it. In essence, he had to learn to begin again with the mind of a beginner. Letting go and finding the real strength within. A strength that was ever-present yet lay dormant.”
Mia started thinking deeper about this, more profoundly.
“Your serve is like O-nami’s stage performance. In order to grow, you must be willing to break it down and rebuild it, step by step. But the real change will be all in the mind – accepting that letting go of the old could lead to something better.”
“Letting go of what doesn’t serve you,” he guffawed once more as Mia smiled.
“Seb was right; you are quite the character, Kai,” chuckled Mia.
“Let’s start with the basics – your stance, your grip, your swing, and most importantly, an empty mind. Forget what you have learned, focus on what you know to be true.”
She reset her stance, concentrating on the ball and visualizing a perfect serve in her mind. She tossed it into the air, her body moving in a fluid, more controlled motion. “Let go.” Time slowed down as she struck the ball. Click. Swoosh. It sailed over the net, landing perfectly in the service box – an Ace.
“I did it, Kai! That felt different, more... right.”
“Well done, Mia. You’ve begun to summon your own great waves. Like O-nami, you’re learning to use your inner strength. This is just the beginning.”
Mia beamed, filled with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence. She picked up another ball, ready to serve again, her spirit lifted by Kai’s guidance and her own breakthrough.
After the groundbreaking session, she decided to sign up for the tournament and started training even more regularly. She would now hit the courts five days a week, practice with Seb, who was still working at Bubblesoft, and play matches with students from the intermediate group, as she literally up-skilled.
Tennis in Central Park had now become a central part of her life.
There was now less than a week left to the local tournament. She had been practicing non-stop and had already improved beyond the level of the other students. Most of them just being part timers, not really taking it seriously. Mia had managed to fit years’ worth of training into a mere few months just by focusing her mind completely on this one area. Now, that’s the right way to do Manhattan time, she thought.
She even started to give Seb a run for his money. He was bewildered.
The first match arrived like the winds of change. Mia was nervous, yet at the same time ready. The opponent entered. It was the same student from the group session who had scurried away like a mouse. A tall, slender, middle-aged man. This should be interesting, thought Mia.
It was his serve. Cluck, pop, swoosh. Ace. 15-0.
Mia was now jolted awake. Seems like he was a decent player. Next serve. Cluck, pop, swoosh. She managed to barely get a flick into an accidental drop-shot. Middle-aged man just managed to dive in, slicing it perfectly cross court. 30-0.
She heard the teachings from Kai echoing in the background, “Forget what you’ve learned, feel what you know, summon the great waves.” Time to fly. She cranked up the octane and activated tournament mode.
Next serve, Mia smashed it back down the line. Middle-aged man tripped. 30-15. He grunted. The game was on.
Next serve, a fierce volley went on for a few minutes; Mia sliced it cross-court to capture the point. 30-30, then 30-40 in rapid succession, as she unleashed her potential in a wicked blur of motion.
The man lost his cool and threw down his racket in frustration. The sign of a true amateur. Someone not in control of their emotions. Mia was able to take advantage and run him over. First game, Mia.
The man was still somewhat frazzled and hadn’t regained his composure.
Mia to serve.
Cluck, pop, swoosh. Ace. 15-0.
Cluck, Swoosh, miss hit. 30-0.
Cluck, return, backhand slice. 40-0.
A series of masterful plays followed. Each point a testament to her growing prowess. The sets blurred into a showcase of her skill. No contest. Mia had won her first-ever tournament match, in style. She jumped up in excitement and went over to high-five Kai. He simply smiled and bowed instead.
“Well done, Mia, your practice has shown great promise. We must now keep our eye on the target. The journey continues.”
They continued training for the next few weeks. Mia kept getting stronger and stronger. She won all her matches with grace and reached the quarterfinals of her first ever tournament.
She was elated.
She went over to check the roster to get an idea of who her next opponent would be. Her enthusiasm, eagerness, and work ethic had sent her soaring to her highest potential; she couldn’t believe she was in the knockout stage. She was curious to find out who she would be paired with.
She took a deep breath and checked the list.
“Alright, you’ve got this. First ever quarter final, no biggie!” she gulped.
She opened the list.
Her face dropped when she found out who the match was against.
It couldn’t be.
--- Quarter Finals - Match 3 ---
Mia vs Joanna.
A nightmare in reality. She would now have to face Joanna again. Mia knew Joanna was quite skilled, but worse, she knew Joanna was all about winning and not the love of the sport. This match would be a cage match for the mind more than the body. She also fully expected Joanna to still be holding a grudge and perhaps even play dirty.
She had noticed Joanna staring like a hawk every now and then in her training sessions with Kai, but she hadn’t spoken to her since. She did feel she could have handled “the breakup” a bit better, though.
Now, they would be going head-to-head.
There was only one thing she could do. Keep calm and practice along. There was tennis to be played, after all.
She went home and continued her practice regimen, intertwined with deep rest. All she could do was focus on the process. The score would simply take care of itself.
With three days left, she started training ferociously, running corner to corner to up her athleticism. Joanna’s pounding attitude had started replaying in her head again.
Her speed had skyrocketed like a cheetah on wheels.
She got a spin ball on the left side, bam, no problem, top spin to center court, ace return.
Mia was ready.
Drop shot near the net; she smashed it back with ease. Slice; no problem.
She might even be faster than Joanna now, she thought. This would be her chance to prove that Joanna’s methods might not be the best. Inadvertently, she started channeling Joanna’s energy and was suddenly determined to win at all costs.
Flat backhand drive to the right corner. This one was a bit outside of her reach, but she wasn’t about to let it slip. She cranked up the octane and dove in like a high-speed jet. She found herself losing balance a mere microsecond before.
Mia tumbled as her racket flew up like a helicopter taking off.
The music just stopped.
This wasn’t good.
Kai rushed in. “Mia, are you alright!?”
She groaned. Her ankle was the size of a Big Apple.
“Oh dear. Mia. We must take you to the hospital.”
Her ankle was toast, and she couldn’t get up anymore.
The ambulance arrived in a flash, but Mia had already sensed the verdict. The paramedics swooped in like a swat team and rushed her to the local hospital. The doctor on call addressed the injury and responded with a stark, motionless expression, “Your ankle has a 2nd-degree sprain. You won’t be able to move much for a few weeks, I’m afraid.”
“Few weeks. What!? But I have a big tournament THIS WEEKEND!” she cried.
“Oh. That’s not going to be happening, I’m afraid. You’ll be lucky to get out of bed by then. We are looking at 6-8 weeks of recovery time. On top of that, we’ve found there to be signs of a stress fracture in your shoulder. I don’t think you’ll be able to play anything anytime soon. You are going to have to take it easy for a while and get lots and lots of ice. I would look into investing in a good Ice room subscription somewhere.”
The diagnosis hit her like a crushed rock.
Mia was devastated. She saw her dreams fade and rush out the window like the cold winter snow melting into the sewers. All the months of passion, effort, and hard work had been of no use. She was shocked and heartbroken.
After being sent home, she iced her ankle in disbelief. Wimbledon was still on, but she had suddenly lost all interest. At least she had an ice room in Bubblesoft, she thought. “Wait. Why do I even care about an Ice room. This is so stupid! UGH!” she shouted.
She lay in bed with an ice pack, staring at the ceiling, reflecting on her journey. “Was it all for nothing?” she wondered. Her mind drifted between frustration, sadness, and the fear of never playing again.
A few mornings later, still saddened by the turn of events, she hopped back out to the court to pick up her stuff.
Kai glanced over and smiled, “How’s the warrior today?”
“Not much of a warrior now, am I?”
“Ah, Mia. Sometimes, being a warrior means knowing when to rest and heal.”
“No more tennis, I’m afraid. My journey is over, Kai,” she sighed as a tear rolled down her cheek.
He gently patted her shoulder, as he seemed to still have his signature smile turned on.
“Do not fret Mia,” he started slowly.
“Your journey is only beginning.”
“Tennis was just a path, not THE path. And it has shown you what lay sleeping inside of you.”
“When one door closes, countless more open.”
She looked up.
“Each moment in life has infinite pathways for you to choose from. Infinite. And every pathway in life has infinite possibilities. Your passion is like a river. It may change course, but it never stops flowing. You may not be able to play tennis right now, but you can choose where you wish to go next. You are completely in the driver’s seat. The only thing that matters is that you take your heart, spirit, and drive with you. That is the key.”
His words touched Mia to her core, and she suddenly found hope again. It all made sense; merely a few months ago, she didn’t even care about tennis, and now it had somehow consumed her. But it was just one of many, many paths she could choose from. The whole world was her oyster.
The last few weeks had made her realize her true potential. She could now channel that energy into the next pathway. All she needed was a worthy goal, a challenge, a mountain worth climbing.
She thanked Kai and started to hop home; she had some brainstorming to do.
As she limped back, suddenly, the dampener on her racket fell to the ground, making a clink sound that echoed angelically like a Tibetan singing bowl.
Suddenly, she had an epiphany.
She remembered how hard it had been for her to find these dampeners. She had looked everywhere but couldn’t find any she liked, so she had made her own with a cute character on it. She called it a nibbler.
“When one door closes, countless more open,” swirled Kai’s words in his signature omnipresent surround sound.
She couldn’t use her legs or her shoulder for now, but she had her hands and her fingers! And she was an artist, after all.
She went home and brainstormed, made rough designs, could hardly sleep with the creative juices flowing. She would create a business, no, design a BRAND! Hot Shot Nibblers. She came up with a lineup of 20 different icons. Each one unique and having its own personality. She designed her own characters in a vibrant cartoony style, gave them all names and a back story, and put her personal touch and flair to them.
She had taken her warrior spirit and embedded it into the characters, creating a selection of nibblers that would inspire their owners to play to their highest potential.
Learning tennis again had unlocked her drive, her passion, her energy again. Now, she could channel it into something that mattered even more to her. Something that would build upon her vast reserves of existing skills. She would use it to share her creativity with the world and spread the joy with countless other tennis players across the world. People just like her.
The weekend was a firestorm of creativity, brainstorming, and design. Wimbledon stopped altogether and was now replaced by Shark Tank. Hanging out with Seb so often had perhaps rubbed off on her, she thought.
She wasn’t quite sure what the next steps were, but she was excited to find out. She had picked up playing tennis in just a few months, hadn’t she? Now, it was time to take it to the next level and learn about entrepreneurship.
She would simply take things one step at a time.
The morning arrived faster than a Shinkansen bullet train. The spring-summer leaves flowed with energy and radiance. Mia felt electric. She limped across to work early, eager to get some glorious ice time to speed her recovery. “So that’s what this room is for,” she concluded. She stopped by the tennis courts on the way and saw Kai drop her his iconic, serene smile.
She hopped up to him, still recovering but smiling widely.
“Thank you, Master Kai,” she bowed, unsure where the urge to call him master came from.
She stood there still for a mere three seconds, which felt more like three minutes. This time, though, she had a serene smile on her face that broke through the rush of the city, turning Manhattan time into mystical moments of magic.
“I have found my next path,” she smiled.
“Yes, I can see it in you Mia, and I am very happy,” he bowed serenely.
He held out his hand, releasing a lotus flower that caught sight of the wind, flying away with the breeze, like a pastel phoenix rising anew from the ashes.
“Say, how would you like to continue training? You might not be able to play tennis for now, but we can work on your visualization skills, and perhaps do some slow Tai-Chi movements to speed up your recovery,” he smiled.
“That sounds great, Master Kai,” she said excitedly.
“I’m all in!”
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