Back at the Bubble Rider Academy, Cherish the first alternate had worked her way up to valedictorian, and it had been a well deserved honor for her to lead the class on its first mission, and many of the others.

Shadow, however, had never excelled in quizzes or relays, never raised her hand, never had an essay returned with a gold star or a smiley face, and was never applauded by classmates or instructors. She had not been exposed to a single tribulation serious enough to compel her to overcome it.

As curious as it may seem to us, this circumstance left her feeling undeserving of any admiration or attention. Shadow didn’t even feel worthy of discussing this with anyone. She led a completely adequate life as a team player, neither scoring a point nor making a mistake.

In the autumn when Mother Nature was napping, Cherish pulled Shadow aside for a gentle conversation. By the time the last leaf had fallen, Cherish had pointed out a thousand tiny adversities that had been resolved with a more quiet grace than any of her classmates had ever attempted.

Shadow stepped into the light of her personal destiny. She found that one exquisite experience which she now knew she deserved, and with complete confidence she grabbed that first taste of perfection.

It was more delicious than any future bite could ever hope to be.

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