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A new version of: The Fisherman And His Wife

Everyone probably knows the fairy tale of „The Fisherman And His Wife“, who makes her husband demand ever greater things from a fish obviously endowed with supernatural powers. It is a fable about greed. In a school in Denmark, a student wrote the following variation of the tale:

After a storm on the North Sea had kept the people of Nymindegab trapped in their homes for four days, Finn enjoyed finally being able to go outside again. He and his girlfriend Elva had immediately taken the opportunity to go for a walk on the beach. It was still quite windy and cold, and they walked underhooked across the beach, which was full of flotsam and jetsam that the storm had swept ashore. Elva was Finn's classmate and his first great love. He liked her flowing blond hair with the big curls, her bright blue eyes, her sweet face with the cutest nose in the world, he liked the way she smelled, her voice when she told something ... in short, he liked everything about her!

They trudged through the still-damp sand and washed-up seaweed, and Finn listened to Elva talk about the upcoming class graduation trip that would take them to London. When you live in Nymindegab, London is the big world. And Elva was very much looking forward to it. It was in the midst of Elva's remarks that Finn saw something slightly shimmering in a pile of kelp next to him. This pile of seaweed was half in the water and half on land. And it seemed to move every now and then. At first they walked past it while Elva just looked in front of her and let her thoughts run free, but Finn didn't let the image rest, so he finally stopped and walked back. He poked around in the seaweed with the toe of his shoe and out came a small fish, the size of a palm, with pale skin and pale blue eyes. Every now and then one or the other fin twitched, but still the whole thing looked somehow unusual.

Finn stared down at the fish. Elva had caught up with him and was also looking at the fish from above. "Do you think it's still alive?" she asked him. - "Don't know." Finn tried to nudge the fish lightly with his foot. If it was still alive, what should they do? Throw it back into the sea? Was it still doing him a favor? - Redeem it? - How? He didn't like killing living creatures, but if the fish was suffering... He hoped the fish was dead, and only the waves and the wind would make it appear as if it were still moving its fins.

"It looks funny!" Elva snapped him out of his thoughts. "Look down there at the belly! It's not real at all, is it? That's a toy fish. Isn't it?" - Finn now squatted down to get a better look at the fish. Sure enough! At the bottom of the fish looked something like a cover flap, the kind you sometimes see on connectors of digital devices. Finn gathered his courage and touched the fish with one finger, and it seemed more and more to him that the fish was not a real fish. Its skin felt more like soft latex. Finn turned the fish slightly on its back with a stick and looked at the flap.

Yes, it was definitely a cover. So he let all caution go and picked up the fish with his hands. If this was a toy, it was definitely a pretty cool one! - He freed it from the sand and seaweed, wrapped it in his scarf, and took it with him. On the way, they both chatted about what insanely advanced toys were out there these days, and Finn promised Elva to tell her later if he could find out anything about the fish and if it possibly still worked. Both felt that the flap was probably covering a charging port and that the "fish" had merely run dry.

Yes, it was definitely a cover. So he let all caution go and picked up the fish with his hands. If this was a toy, it was definitely a pretty cool one! - He freed it from the sand and seaweed, wrapped it in his scarf, and took it with him. On the way, they both chatted about what insanely advanced toys were out there these days, and Finn promised Elva to tell her later if he could find out anything about the fish and if it possibly still worked. Both felt that the flap was probably covering a charging port and that the "fish" had merely run dry. Finn was still listening to Elva, but his thoughts only circled around the strange fish. Once home, he disappeared straight into his room and set about cleaning the fish carefully but thoroughly before daring to open the cover for the first time.

It was indeed, as they had thought, a cover, but it hid a fairly mundane micro USB connector, though the connector was idiosyncratic in that it was the same color as the fish's body and quite flexible, making it difficult for Finn to insert a micro USB plug in there that he normally used for his cell phone. He plugged the other end into his PC. A fish icon appeared on his desktop, and Finn began to get slightly excited. With his heart pounding, he clicked on the icon. Immediately, a large image opened with an open shark mouth, and writing seemed to fly from inside the shark onto the monitor, "You got me!" After five seconds, the image went out and a text could be read.

"Congratulations! - You have won $5,000.00! - This fish is a Boston University study project. It was launched in Rockport Massachusetts on June 12, 2021 and obviously made it to you. Please let us know where it is. You will receive as a finder's reward the said $5,000.00 AND, should you have university admission in your state, a scholarship to Boston University. - Call this phone number to discuss everything else with us." Then followed an American phone number that appeared to be a mile long.

Finn was both stunned and totally euphoric at the same time. He had to share this news with Elva! He grabbed his cell phone, but the moment he heard Elva's voice on the other end, he changed his plan. He wanted to tell her face to face, so he just said "I'll be right over. I have some amazing news for you!" He didn't even wait for her answer, but hung up right away. Pulling his jacket off the chair and rushing out the door was one movement. Less than 10 minutes later, he was sitting on Elva's sofa bed. No one lives far away in Nymindegab. Elva's mouth was slightly open as she listened to him almost in disbelief. Five thousand dollars and a scholarship in the USA.

That was almost too good to be true. But she was also a little bit envious. After all, they had somehow found the fish together. And who knows, maybe he wouldn't have picked it up at all if she hadn't found the flap. And so it happened that it matured more and more in her that she actually also deserved a small share. So she playfully mentioned "and what do I get as my share?" - Finn didn't quite know what to say at first, but then he got carried away and awarded her half of the $5,000, and Elva was already starting to spend that $2,500 in her head.

"When are you going to call there?" asked Elva Finn. "I don't know ... maybe tomorrow afternoon. They're behind a few hours." They both remained very chipper throughout the rest of the day, and their minds ran through all sorts of scenarios. Finn slept fitfully that night. The day's events shaped his bizarre dreams. Even at school, he could hardly concentrate. His thoughts were already circling around the phone call. Elva and he agreed that he would call her right after he had made the call. But then Finn decided to change his mind after all. Instead of calling, he ran to Elva so she could be right there for the phone call. And so the moment came when he sat next to her on the sofa bed and dialed the number with shaky fingers.

It rang a few times before a friendly voice answered on the other end of the line. Finn gave his name and said that he was the person who had found the fish. The person he was talking to was stunned! With great joy, the person told him that they had been waiting for this moment with great anticipation at the research center, and that this was an important project and very expensive!

Which was why it was so nice that "Nansen" - as the fish had been named, after the researcher Fridtjof Nansen - had been recovered. There had not been much hope that this would happen. It was actually thought that if the signal was lost at some point, nothing more would be seen or heard from Nansen, although it was precisely then that the recordings that Nansen would then still make would bring important research results. That was also the reason why a reward had been offered. And now Nansen was back! The person was obviously beside himself with joy.

"Tell her you found the fish but with another person!" murmured Elva to him. "Tell her you have to split the prize money!". - And that's exactly what Finn finally did. He mentioned that he hadn't found the fish alone, and that's why he had to share the prize money. The voice on the other end of the line faltered for a moment. Then she said, "Hold on ..." and it took about half a minute before she was back again. "You know what, Finn? - I talked to our project manager again. We'll give you the $2,500 you have to turn in on top of it!" - Finn's heart leapt when he heard that! "Thank you ... thank you ..." he stammered, and one could literally feel his gratitude. He was happy for Elva, too. Of course they would share half!

Finn and the voice arranged another phone call in the next few days to clarify the further steps also regarding the return of the fish. When Finn ended the call he was visibly proud, but Elva looked a little pensive. "What's wrong?" he asked her, "Aren't you happy?" - Elva bit her lip. "If you accept the scholarship, then we won't see each other again." she said in a sad voice. "Oh who knows!" he tried to placate her. "Who knows if all this will even work out. We haven't even finished our school yet."

Over the next few days, Elva was a bit quieter than usual, and Finn's thoughts were often on the next phone call. It reached him just as he was on his way home from gym class with Elva. The voice answered again, as friendly as before. There was a lot to discuss. Finn was given some addresses to write down. That's where he was supposed to send all the information about himself, including his account number because of the money. She wanted to know where he went to school and which subjects he liked and when he thought he would finish school. Elva listened wordlessly. Then the voice said that they had decided to invite him to the official ceremonial return of the fish.

If he wanted, they would arrange a trip for him to Boston and, of course, pay for all expenses. Again Finn was speechless with joy, and again Elva hissed at him to ask if he could bring his girlfriend along as well. And when Finn did, it became quiet on the other side of the line. It took quite a while before the voice said "Hold on ..." and then came back after about a minute. "Ok, this wasn't really planned this way, but I just talked to our professor, and he said you can bring your girlfriend!" - Finn was overwhelmed for joy. He thanked her a thousand times and beamed triumphantly at Eva. Elva grinned back.

Ten days before they were to fly to Boston, Finn received another call. Elva and he were in the middle of practicing for an exam when the phone rang. This time it was the professor himself. He sounded friendly but reserved. He told them that they had looked at Finn's information about his school career and could imagine that it would be mutually beneficial for Finn to study in Boston. He, the professor, wanted to chat with him a bit about what subjects Finn would feel strong in and what he wanted to do for a living. For Finn, that was clear. Finn had been interested in bioengineering since he was a child, and it was a perfect fit for the professor. They quickly agreed that they could discuss this further during the upcoming visit. Finn should bring all his school reports, they would certainly find time for that.

Elva had overheard all of this. Finally she told Finn to pause for a moment. Finn then told the professor "Oh one little moment please, ..." he deactivated the microfon and hissed to Elva as if the professor could still hear: "What?!" - "Tell him that your friend has always dreamed of studying in America, and if he might see a chance that you could also see if a scholarship could be found for her too. Since she'd be on the trip anyway, she might as well bring her own school records." -

Finn was stunned. He didn't want to ask this! But Elva's eyes and her body language made it clear that she was very serious about this. So he finally relented and did as told. Finn heard only an awkward silence after he had finished. It took what felt like an eternity before the professor responded with a query. "Can you repeat that, please?" - Finn repeated his request, and the professor took it with a "we'll have to do some soul-searching on that one." before ending the conversation with the usual greetings.

Two days later, he received a letter from the U.S. informing him that the Nansen handover ceremony had been canceled for budgetary reasons and that the U.S. trip was therefore cancelled. In the end, he received the original $5,000 in his account, but no more. As for the scholarship, he was told that unfortunately he did not meet the requirements for studying in the U.S. because he was still a high school student and therefore not eligible to study. However, since the scholarships were awarded on an annual basis, they could not be postponed.

Finn ended up studying bioengineering anyway. But not in Boston, but in Copenhagen. Elva soon found another boyfriend, with whom she moved in together shortly after school. Finn never found out what else became of her.

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