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Eleanor the Swordfish

Eleanor is in training. She is practising the ancient art of fencing, with her beautiful but miniature pointed rapier. Eleanor is an old swordfish, of the dwarf variant. What she lacks in the length, she makes up in fortitude and strength.

Today, Eleanor is in training for the monumental world swordfish fencing championships. Eleanor has qualified and taken part in this competition every year, ever since she was a dot. She has never got past round one. Perhaps, because of the short length of her definitive weapon, the other swordfish beat her (easily). But this year, Eleanor reckons, it will be different! She has a new strategy. Not trickery, but talent. Unforeseen previously, now evident. Eleanor is going to grow into herself, and expand her miniature size, beyond its diminutive dimensions.

Eleanor‘s trainer, a tadpole name is Derek, is less confident. “Don’t get your hopes up too high,” says Derek. “You will no doubt get bowed out by the proper swordfish. But still, I suppose, it’s a good idea to try, at least?”

Eleanor retorts: “You Derek, you are just a tadpole, you have no life experience. I don’t even know why I took you on as my trainer. You’re just a child. What on earth do you know about swordfish fighting, fencing, and life itself?”

Derek replies: “I’ll have you know I won the training award at frog finishing school, two months ago. I am certainly qualified to be your trainer. I’m trying to help you with your techniques. Let’s do the warmup, now!”

Eleanor goes with the flow. She warms up all her muscles, and gives her sword a good talking to.

“Now, sword!” Eleanor says. “Don’t let me down! I need you to perform, beyond your best!”

“Competitors for Round One, come to the ring!” says the judge/commentator for the competition. It is a goldfish named Harry. “Come along,” says Harry.

It is time for Eleanor to perform! She gives her sword a quick stroke and polish, against the coral reef in the water. “Wish me luck!” she says, to no one in particular.

“Three, two, one, go!!” says Harry the Goldfish. Eleanor is fighting against a much bigger swordfish, a normal swordfish, where is Eleanor – being a dwarf – is extra ordinary. Eleanor sizes up her competition. It is a suave-looking swordfish named Elliott.

Elliot sees the size of Eleanor and starts laughing. “Oh look, what have we here? The old tiny swordfish, known for her lack of winning. I’m bound to win this match! Ha ha ha ha!”

Eleanor has a plan. She is going to use her size to reach dimensions that elude her opponent, with his crass confidence.

“Do you think you can beat me, effortlessly?” says Eleanor. I”’ll show you what only dwarfs can do! Ha ha ha!”

Elliot lunges at Eleanor, aiming for her heart. But Eleanor swerves in an instant, and swims round the back. Before he knows it, Elliot has missed his target, and is in a vulnerable position.

Eleanor charges, so small she can squeeze in between Elliot’s scales and attack him, so rapidly, before he can catch her.

Elliot is a bit confused and taken aback. By now Eleanor is moving so fast that the diminutive dimensions and rapid strokes of her sword make her almost disappear. Elliot cannot see her. “Where are you?” he says. “I can’t see you?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know! Ha ha ha!” says Eleanor, charging round the back. She goes underneath Elliot, in places he can neither see nor go. Eleanor charges at Elliott, and her sword impales his flesh. Harry the Goldfish announces: “and we have a winner, a surprise winner! It is Eleanor the dwarf goldfish!”

“She was cheating!” whinges Elliot. “It’s not fair!”

“Of course it’s fair,” says Eleanor. “Don’t be such a bad loser. Allow me my moment to bask in glory.”

Derek the Tadpole, Eleanor’s trainer, is as surprised as anyone. “Well done, Eleanor!” he says. “You did that very sneaky move going round the back. I am impressed.”

Eleanor says: “No time to rest on our laurels. I need to get ready for round two! This will be more difficult, more taxing.”

Harry the Goldfish rings the bell, calling to competitors in round two – the final! Eleanor versus Nigel! Another wily old swordfish. Who will be victorious?

Eleanor enters the aquarium auditorium. It is packed with a rivetted audience. People are cheering for her. Fans she never knew she had. Nigel enters the ring. He looks even older than Eleanor. He wears two pairs of glasses – half glasses, for reading, and sunglasses, to protect against the sun.

Eleanor is confident. “Nigel looks like a complete old fogie. Won’t be hard to beat him!” she says to herself.

Harry the Goldfish says: “Three, two, one, start!” The contest begins.

Nigel remarks, slyly: “You may think I am old and decrepit, but I have magic powers.”

“Don’t we all?” says Eleanor.

“But mine are senior, even more senior, than yours!” responds Nigel.

Eleanor gathers momentum, and lunges at Nigel. Nigel, in an instant, changes his glasses, and swerves, surprisingly gently and gracefully. “You can’t get me that easily!” He says.

Nigel lunges back. The two swordfish play a game, a ménage a deux, a coup d’état. They advance, recede, and dance around the rings. It is like a beautiful ballet to watch.

Eventually, Eleanor says: “Clearly we are equals. I’m really enjoying this fencing dance. But I think we’re going to have to find another method of assessing which of us is victorious.”

Nigel agrees. “What do you suggest?” he says.

Eleanor replies: “This is the final of the world swordfish fencing championships. I really want to win the prize. I could do something really sneaky, and impale you, like I did with my previous appointment. However, I like you. I like dancing with you. You are an old codger, like me. So I suggest we make it a draw. Share the prize, and do something really exciting, out of the box, something no one would expect that we would do, in celebration of a joint victory?

Nigel considers this proposal, carefully: “We have to think quickly. You with your small dimensions must be very good at thinking quickly!”

Eleanor says: “I could attack you now, being so sly and canny. But I like you. Let’s have a dance together, a waltz maybe. Or a tango.”

Nigel agrees. “Let us tango! A tango for the incredibly supportive, roused audience! They are clapping, they are cheering. And now we will reward them, with our tango dance. Maybe we can ask the audience to give a clap the beat for us.”

“You ask them for the beat,” says Eleanor. “You have a louder voice than I do. My vocal chords being of miniature proportions…”

Nigel shouts to the audience, the onlookers in the stands: “Please raise a beat! We are going to tango. Give us some music!”

Harry the Goldfish judge, has no Idea what an earth is happening here. “Ahem!| he says: “What’s going on? Get back to the competition!”

Eleanor and Nigel ignore the goldfish. They are dancing, now, with panache. In time to a sheer vibrating racket, made by the audience – who clap, cheer, whistle, in lyrical staccato, catching the beat of the tango.

Eleanor and Nigel dance in beautiful synchronicity and elegance. They are so absorbed by their union, that they don’t notice the Harry the Goldfish shouting at them.

The judge says: “Unless you stop this transgression now, you will be disqualified from the swordfish fencing National Championships! Stop, now!”

But the audience, are loving it. They shout: “Keep going! You are beautiful, graceful! Three cheers for Nigel and Eleanor! Hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray, hip hip hurray!”

After about three minutes, Eleanor and Nigel reach the end of the dance. They bow and wallow in the of massive almighty applause from the audience.

Harry the Goldfish judge looks very angry: he says: “I have no choice but to disqualify you from the competition. What you just did was nowhere near correct for sword fighting, or for this championship competition! Do you have failed. You have lost the competition, both of you! You are disqualified.”

The audience goes mental. They start shouting at the Harry the Goldfish: “How dare you! What we saw then would be absolute roots of sword citing, fencing, in its ancient artistic form. How dare you disqualify our brilliant contests!”

Nigel and Eleanor absorb their applause. It means more to them to receive such a positive, heart-warming reaction to their dance, then to have won any sword fighting competition.

Eleanor says to Harry the Goldfish: “Feel free to disqualify Nigel and myself. We have won the audience vote; we are the true winners.”

Nigel‘s glasses fall off. “Hang on, I can’t see a thing,” he says. “Where are my glasses? Eleanor picks them up and places them on Nigel‘s face. “Here you are!” she says. They gaze at each other, adoringly. They say, in unison: “Yes, we are the true winners. The audience love us, and we love ourselves. We don’t need a gold medal to prove that.”

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