She's not doing what I thought she might. It's tiny movements, no long threat, doing the job the slow way. I'm wary, but not threatened, and I re-think; revert to counter-attack by default, and the first hit comes to me. Some coach must teach this repetitive pattern of two steps forwards, two back, feel the opponent with the hand and line; that's exactly what she's doing. I imagine an entire school of people practising the oscillation; it's far too obvious and I'm not going to fall for it - not using a french grip into a girl with a pistol grip. I lose concentration and get hit on a long attack. It's one-all; we've both broken our ducks and the fight proper can begin.
The next two I forget instantly: variations on my earlier theme, and eventually I drop another hit. It's ok, just time to change.
I joke, but it's not really the time for it. Chatting helps me relax, which is good. I suppose it's a bit like coffeehouse at backgammon, which is at best unethical. Some people want to win all the time. Sure, I want to win all the time, some of the time. I'm debating in my head where the ethical lines are.
She doesn't like my outside line. My hand is vulnerable, and John would hit it, but the girl doesn't like the way my point can come in around her blade. It hurts, though, through the forearm and bicep. "Seven-three is space to play with", I think to myself, taking the edge off the pain, but it's not won, so I struggle on.
That's when the world goes white. My mind is elsewhere. It's only half past nine, and I'm eight-three up, and I probably can't lose to ten. Keep the hand up, keep the point out. I can't hold a fight any more, but at least I can do something she doesn't like, and hope for the best. Anyone would attack down the middle, my point is so wide - why doesn't she? The pain in my arm and the spinning of the world are all that is left, and I stop and stare at the ceiling to wait for it to stop. I can even feel my pulse in my ears. What did I do wrong today that I can't even stand up now.
Somewhere, the muscle discipline holds out for a ten-four win.
I collapse onto a bench, and think "I wish people talked more, sometimes."