The night before the match, I could not sleep.

I would close my eyes. I would relax - first my back and then my arms and my legs. But before I could relax my fingers and toes, the thoughts always returned. My gloves were gone. My arms tired. In my mind, his punches flew like lightning. My pour old legs! I could never dodge him, and my vision flashed with each hit.

Finally, I got up and put on my robe. Shivering, I walked slowly to my living room. My curtains were closed, but the light of the city found a way through my window and cast a thin line on the opposite wall.

I pulled the curtains a little, and I peeked through the window. Large, wet snowflakes tapped on the roof. Through the snow, necklaces of lights and evergreen branches lined the streets.

Behind me, I heard a purr and felt something brush against my legs. I turned and saw two eyes that looked at me, reflecting the brilliant world.

"I am sorry," I said. As I pet her ears, I could not stop smiling. "I hope that I did not wake you."

With a trilling meow, Chouette jumped on the windowsill and pressed her cold nose against my hand. I approached her and gasped when she climbed into my arms. She was shivering, too. I held her closer to me. "I know," I said as I walked to the chair. "I know it is cold."

Slowly, I sat down. Normally, I would let go of Chouette, and she would lie on the arm of the chair. But now, she curled up in my lap.

I wrapped her up with my robe. "It will be all right," I whispered.

I looked at the lights of the city and the snow. I felt the warmth and the heartbeat of the little, trusting life.

"Yes. Everything will be all right."

And this time, when I closed my eyes, I slept.