Clement arrived at work and was immediately accosted by Ivan.
“The whole world’s getting stupid,” he announced.
Over Ivan’s shoulder Clement noticed Julia and Gertrude laughing and talking.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” said Ivan.
Clement stepped around Ivan and made his way over to see what was happening.
“Don’t get sucked in by the vortex of lunacy,” warned Ivan.
Julia saw Clement and smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”
“Hey,” he replied. He looked at Gertrude and nodded. She blushed.
“I did it,” announced Julia.
“I started my business. C-Harmony. I went to the university to find someone who could help me develop the algorithms to make it work. One of the professors loved my idea and now I have a partner. Isn’t that great?”
“It won’t work! It’s a waste of time and money. Crash and burn,” shouted Ivan from his cubicle.
“I’d rather take risks and fail than become bitter like you,” Julia shouted back.
Ivan scowled, then slunk behind his computer screen.
“What if Ivan’s right? I mean, what if you fail?” asked Clement.
Julia had a hurt look in her eye. “You, too?”
“I don’t mean it that way. It’s just that a lot of businesses fail, you know? It’s something to consider,” said Clement.
“There is no success without the risk of failure,” said Gertrude. “Somebody told me that once.”
Her entrance into the conversation startled Clement.
Julia beamed. “Gertrude’s so right. And wouldn’t you know, I ran into her at the university. She was coming from the entomology department.”
“Oh yeah?” asked Clement.
“She just published an article on butterflies,” said Julia.
“Seriously?” exclaimed Clement. Gertrude blushed. “What’s it about?”
Gertrude cleared her throat. “I figured out how to successfully breed the papilio protenor, or the mutated spangle butterfly. They were once thought to be extinct.”
“She’s a hero, right?” gushed Julia.
“I can’t believe it. That’s amazing. How’d you do it?”
“It’s kinda complicated, but the folks at the university helped.”
“You don’t even have a degree in butterflies, do you? Is that even a thing?” asked Clement.
Gertrude hesitated. “No, but it’s been a hobby for years.”
“That’s even better than a degree,” added Julia.
“I guess so. Gertrude, that’s great.”
Gertrude looked down at her shoes and smiled. “Thanks.”
The three basked in the moment a few seconds.
“By the way, just out of curiosity, who said that thing about no success without the risk of failure?” asked Clement.
Gertrude looked directly into Clement’s eyes. “Emperor Don.”