“Isn’t Grandpa coming up the spire with us?” asked the boy.
“No,” said his mother, “He doesn’t think he’ll be able to manage the stairs.”
“He does the stairs at home,” said the boy introspectively, “And at his house.”
“Yes,” said his mother with a laugh, “But there are only 14 steps in our stairs, and there are 223 steps up the spire. It would be too much.”
“I see,” said the boy, nodding as he filed away this new and interesting fact.
“But,” the runner said to her new manager in dismay, looking up from her race schedule, “Those Marathons are on the same day. Didn’t you check the dates?”
“Yes, of course I did. But they are close together – you should be able to get from one course to another in time. So that will be three races on the 2nd, and another three on the 3rd. Should be fine.”
The runner looked blank. “I can’t possibly run six Marathons in two days.”
“Why not?” asked the manager. “You have a consistent finish time of less than three hours.”
The runner looked utterly bewildered. “But…” she stuttered.
She turned to her trainer, who had just come in.
“What’s this?” said her trainer. He looked at the schedule.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course she can’t run six Marathons in two days. It would be far too much.”
Three new students were enjoying their first field trip to a barely visible ruin. Most of the old walls were gone, their former whereabouts only clear from lines of darker grass, but periodically, a long ridge of a broken flint and stone wall still stood, running from one side of the site to the other like a miniature terrace.
One of the students, a girl with black curly hair, was using an electronic-assist manual wheelchair. She carried crutches on the back, but they looked new.
“Oh dear,” she said, as they approached the fourth of the walls, an impassable step for wheels. One of her companions looked at her in surprise.
“We can lift the chair over like we did the others,” he said.
“Yes, if you get out and use the crutches,” said the other student with them, who was wearing jeans and a floaty top.
The girl with curly hair shook her head. “I can’t keep on doing that. It gets too exhausting,” she said.
The girl in jeans looked at her crossly. “But you did it just now.” The boy nodded assent.
“I really can’t go on doing it,” said the girl with curly hair. “You go on without me. There’s plenty to look at back the way we came.”
“You’re just making a silly fuss,” said one of the others crossly, and they walked off.
The girl with curly hair sighed, and turned round to go back the way she had come. If she was fortunate, this would just blow over. If not – she knew well the spite and difficulties that would come her way once her fellow students had decided she was just pretending to get sympathy.
Her lecturer came striding across the grass. “On your own?” she asked. “I’m sure you were with some others a moment ago.”
“I sent them on without me,” she explained. “I can’t go on clambering over these walls on crutches. It gets too much.”
Cold, hard suspicion and anger entered the lecturer’s eyes. “But I know you can do it,” she said, “I saw you.”