He smoothed his towels out evenly over the edge girder and laid on his back. With his hands clasped behind his head, he began a rigourous routine of sit ups.
“Not like that,” Teyata said. “Give me your feet.”
Brad offered them, only to have Teyata grab them and wrench him around so that his back faced the open expanse of the river. She sat on his lower legs with Bible in hand.
It hurt to have her sit on his shins whilst resting on iron girders, but he refused to grimace or cry out.
“Now, I want you to do those things you just did,” said Teyata.
Apprehensively, Brad stared over his shoulder.
“You’ve got to do 100,” said Teyata.
“Isn’t it exciting? I can count that far now.”
He leant back with eyes closed, straining. The effort seemed ten times harder than conventional sit ups. A sense of dread filled him as he became aware of a sense of weightlessness. On rising, Teyata slapped the top of his head.
“Open your eyes. The point of you doing this is to make you concentrate. It will make you put in a proper effort. A sense of danger will do that. Besides, a manine hunts from above as well as sleeps there for safety. I have to get you used to being up here so you can do things on your own.”
“You’re leaving me?!”
“No; I’m teaching you. The best leader is one who teaches those under them to do without them. If I can’t do that, then I would have failed you.”
Brad leant back again, feeling nauseous with fear, then rose again.
“I can’t give you 100 of these.”
“It doesn’t matter if you have a break after every three of them. I’m not moving off your legs until you’ve done 100.”
She lowered her head to her reading, dismissing him.
“I’m sorry I taught you how to count too,” he said as sourly as before.
“Get busy,” Teyata said in mid sentence.
He started off strong, managing to do 20. The growing ache in his stomach muscles eventually overpowered his sense of dread, just as Teyata suggested. She droned on with her reading as he managed to only do a few at a time between lengthy breaks. A little over an hour elapsed when he finally finished.
“That’s a hundred,” said Teyata, holding out her hand.
He gritted his teeth, straining to curl up enough to reach her. She didn’t lean forward to assist him. When his palm met with hers, she wrenched him to his feet.
“How do you feel?” she asked.
Brad placed a hand on his stomach.
“That’s normal. A few days from now, the pain’ll pass. Now to strengthen your arms and legs. Turn around.”
Brad did so, nearly overbalancing as Teyata climbed on, locking her legs in front of him.
“Squat,” she ordered.
“100?” Brad asked, fearing the answer.
“Yes; with the same rules as before.”
Lisa watched the ordeal for a time, then found herself looking away as she saw Brad’s legs quiver. Surely to balance on a narrow girder needed even more effort with the added burden of Teyata.