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Peach Tree


by therock4678

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The hot Mystery Island sun beat down on the students in the Training School's courtyard as they trudged on with their lessons. They had been divided into groups depending on their courses and skill level to keep their training equal. Ryshu kept a close eye on every student, carefully studying their every move as they went through the motions he had just taught them. One student that kept catching his attention was a Blue Uni in the 'Basic' Endurance class.

     Yoonie has always struggled with her classes. One would think that a Uni, a Neopet notorious for their boundless endurance, would excel in this course...but those people had not met Yoonie. She would tire quickly despite Ryshu's best efforts to teach her how to control her breathing and to not fumble over her own four hooves. Yoonie could practically feel Master Ryshu's gaze on her back as she floundered through her laps. The other students in her class had already finished their run and Yoonie's cheeks burned with shame. One of her fellow students is a Koi and even he managed to outrun her on land!

     Ryshu always reminded her that this course was not a race, but Yoonie could not help but feel like it was.

      Yoonie finished her final lap panting and her legs wobbling from exertion. Master Ryshu waited for her at the end. The other students have already retreated back into the school for further instruction.

     Again.

     He was never angry with her, yet Yoonie always found herself bracing for an earful at the end of practice.

     Instead of yelling at her, Ryshu instead offers water and an Azzle, which Yoonie tiredly accepts.

     "You have done well today, Yoonie. Though we have not yet achieved our goal, you gave your classes today your best effort." Ryshu says as he led Yoonie into the school after she had finished munching the offered fruit.

     "...Master Ryshu? Is there...something wrong with me?" Yoonie asks hesitantly and Ryshu stops in his tracks.

     "Did someone say that to you?" Ryshu raises an eyebrow suspiciously. Yoonie was often a target of bullying so hearing a student sneer at her wasn't unheard of.

     "N-No...it's just that...I keep trying and trying and I just keep failing! I'm not getting any better no matter what I do!" Yoonie vents sadly. She felt hopeless.

     "Yet you continue to try anyway. That is commendable. As long as you continue to try, then you may improve. It is only when you give up will you truly fail. Your progress only stops when you stop, and you have not stopped yet, young one." Ryshu's voice is as calm as an undisturbed stream. There wasn't a hint of anger or annoyance in his voice, yet Yoonie managed to hear it anyway.

     "But what's the point in trying if I keep going in circles? Everyone else is getting better, but I'm not!" Yoonie asks as she's led into the school.

     "I am your teacher. If you do not learn, then it is I that have failed you. Tell me, Yoonie; am I a bad teacher in your eyes?" Ryshu asks plainly and devoid of emotion.

     "Wha? N-No! Of course not! You're Master Ryshu! You're the best and the strongest and you know everything! It's just...me. I'm the problem! I'm just not good enough..." Yoonie shrinks back.

     "Hm. You needn't flatter me, Yoonie, while you insult yourself. Any pleasantries you give are dashed when you prop up others by putting yourself down...and please stop apologizing." Ryshu places his finger on Yoonie's lips as she opened her mouth to, once again, apologize.

     Ryshu stood in silence for a moment before finally speaking again.

     "You need to train your mind as well as your body, young Yoonie. Where your mind goes, your body will follow. We will lead it together. Come see me in the West Garden in one hour, Yoonie. In the meantime, please rest up and meditate if you can." Ryshu says before vanishing into the shadows as he usually did.

     Well, this was it. Yoonie just knew that was going to be expelled and she will have to go back to working at the Trading Post handling garbage lots again. Great.

      The hour passes and when Yoonie opens her eyes after meditating, she sees that the sun had mostly set through the half-shuttered windows. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Yoonie trudges out through the courtyard and into the gardens. Master Ryshu wanted to meet with her in the West Garden, Yoonie recalls.

     The West Garden was more of an orchard filled with mostly exotic fruit trees. Their sweet scents were tempting, but Yoonie had to meet Master Ryshu and the knot in her stomach put snacking at the bottom of her list of priorities.

     Illuminated by the creeping moonlight sat Ryshu waiting for her sitting on a stone under a peach tree that overlooked a sheer cliff. It almost looked dangerous, but Yoonie knew better when it came to her teacher.

     "Um...I'm here, Master Ryshu." Yoonie bows as she greets her Master.

     Ryshu does not open his eyes, but nods in acknowledgement. "You are right on time Yoonie. We will begin your lesson soon, but first I must ask a favour of you. I have not eaten yet and I am in the mood for an apple. Please retrieve one for me from this tree." Ryshu taps the trunk of the peach tree with his staff.

     Yoonie looks up to make sure that the peach tree is, in fact, a peach tree and therefore devoid of any apples. "Um...Master Ryshu? Pardon me for questioning your wisdom...but that isn't that a peach tree?" Yoonie approaches the tree despite her confusion. Ryshu nods and taps the tree's trunk again.

     "Indeed. This is a peach tree, but I do not want a peach. I would like an apple. Please retrieve one from this tree for me."

     This is ridiculous. Yoonie glances further down the trail and spots an actual apple tree only a short walk away. She starts down the trail but is stopped by Ryshu's voice.

     "Where are you going, Yoonie?" he asks and opens one eye.

     "I'm getting an apple, Master Ryshu."

     Ryshu shakes his head. "No, Yoonie. I don't want one from that tree. It must be this one. Please retrieve the apple from the peach tree." His voice was still full of patience despite making this absurd request multiple times.

     Yoonie sighs and walks back to the peach tree and places her forehooves on it to hoist herself up for a better look. Her eyes scan the leaves to search for a hidden apple. Master Ryshu's request made no sense. This had to be a test! His staring at her with one open eye did nothing to ease her building anxiety. What would happen if she failed this test? How was she supposed to get an apple from a tree that did not grow apples?

     Yoonie crouches down, then leaps upwards. Flapping her stumpy wings gives Yoonie more air to propel herself up the trunk and into the branches of the peach tree.

     Unfortunately, every single fruit in the tree was pink, fuzzy, and vaguely heart-shaped. There were no apples. Peach. Peach. Peach. Island Wibreth.

     The startled bird squawks loudly and startles Yoonie right back. Her hooves flail and she fails to find purchase on the branches and clumsily falls from the tree, taking several peaches down with her. Thinking quickly, Yoonie flaps her wings to set herself right and she lands square on her hooves. Peaches and leaves rain down around her and Ryshu with soft thuds.

     Yoonie scans every fruit but finds only peaches. She shakily picks up the least bruised one she could find and places it in Ryshu's offered palm.

     Ryshu opens both eyes and inspects the peach, then closes his hands around it. "Yoonie...this is a peach. I asked for an apple."

     "But-But Master Ryshu! I can't get you an apple from this tree! This tree only grows peaches! You want me to do something impossible! I'm sorry!" Yoonie shrinks back and frustration pricks at the back of her mind.

     Ryshu glances down at the peach in his hands and he pulls until the fruit is halved. "I see. Now, Yoonie...would you consider this tree to be a failure?" he asks and offers Yoonie one-half of the peach while he keeps the half with the pit.

     "Um. No? The tree can't help that it can only grow peaches." Yoonie takes her half but holds off on eating it for now.

     "Was I wrong for trying to force an apple from a tree that cannot provide what I ask for?" Ryshu asks, taking a bite of his half. He'd carefully removed the hard stone and held it gently in his fist as if it were a fragile bird's egg.

     Yoonie gulped. Here comes the test...right? "Um...Yes? I-I mean no! Um. I mean..." Yoonie stumbles over the question and her clumsy answer.

     "The tree cannot change, but I can. I should not expect an apple from a peach tree, so I must find another solution for what I want rather than try to force the impossible, as you said." Ryshu stands up and walks over to a soft patch of soil a few steps away.

     Ryshu uses the end of his staff to bore a hole into the soil while Yoonie watches silently.

     "We may have the power to choose when to plant the seed, but it will only grow if we care for it. If we nurture it and give it what it needs. While this peach seed may only grow into a peach tree, it must not be shamed for failing to provide an apple, just as we should not shame the neighbour apple tree for not providing a peach." Ryshu places the seed into the soil, then steps away.

     Ryshu looks to Yoonie expectantly. Yoonie, taking her cue, swallows her half of the peach, trots over to the seed, and looks down into the hole where it sits. Using her hoof, she pushes stray dirt onto the seed, then pats it down.

     When she looks back up at Ryshu, he gives a small smile.

     "You see, this seed's journey has only just begun much like you. You have so much potential and while you may not see any improvement, I have. I have expected apples from you and I apologize, Yoonie. I will work with you to find a learning style that suits you the best. I believe in you and I want to see you grow, so do not give up." Ryshu turns to face Yoonie and gives a short bow.

     "M-Master Ryshu..." Yoonie blinks extra moisture out of her eyes and determination sparks in her heart. "I-I won't let you down! I want to find my peach tree!"

     "Excellent! Together we will try something new in the morning. Go get some rest, then." Ryshu waves to Yoonie as she canters off back to the school.

     Ryshu watches her go, the memories of other peaches, apples, and the lessons of the trees echo in remembrance. The same lessons he had learned from his Master not so long ago. His eyes glance up at the roof of the Training School and smiles knowingly at the Green Techo who oversaw Ryshu's meeting with his troubled student.

     She will succeed.

     The End.

 
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