Best Wishes (A Short Story)


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At an airport I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.

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He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry.


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Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me.

So I knew what this man was experiencing. He began to smile. My parents used to say it to everyone. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. Once there lived a happy couple who had been together for decades. But after spending years together, husband was concerned A young man was proud of his healthy and beautiful heart. One day, standing in the middle of the town, he proclaimed that he More than a decade ago, a man was reading his morning newspaper. The husband curses himself for being stupider than his wife. He says they should wish for something sensible for their final wish, like riches, but the wife says that all the riches in the world would be no good to her if she had to have a black pudding stuck to her nose for the rest of her life.

So the husband reluctantly allows his wife to wish for the black pudding to be removed from her nose — and so it is. They have used up their three wishes and all they have to show for it is a black pudding.

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The husband decides that from now on they should wish for nothing, and be happy with their lot. The above summary is of the version of the three wishes tale which Iona and Peter Opie collected in their definitive anthology of fairy stories, The Classic Fairy Tales , but as the Opies note in their fascinating introduction to this story, the tale of the three wishes has a long and complex history.

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The pattern of the three wishes extends far beyond traditional fairy tales, however, and can be seen in the tale of Aladdin and the magic lamp and in the wonderful Edwardian story by W. In that version of the story, a husband and wife are visited by a friendly spirit and granted three wishes.


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  • In consultation with his wife, the husband requests that he be generously endowed with the means of satisfying his wife. So for his second wish he asks that all that embarrasses him be removed. Black puddings are swapped for something else meaty and sausage-shaped in this version, it would seem. The moral of the story is curious. But nor do they end up better off either. Instead, they end up exactly back where they started, because they have foolishly and recklessly not made the most of the wishes on offer. This is made more poignant in the version of the story summarised above, since the husband and wife sit down and carefully discuss which wishes it would be wisest to make, but then carelessly go and wish for trivial things in the course of going about their lives.

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    But the protagonists, not devils but merely flawed and silly human beings, end up riding round in circles. Relying on wishes from supernatural benefactors is a dangerous and unreliable game, after all. More about the book can be found here.

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    The author of this article, Dr Oliver Tearle, is a literary critic and lecturer in English at Loughborough University. It is one of my favourite short stories and the consequences of the first two wishes are certainly more frightening than having a black pudding stuck on your nose!

    Funny you should remind us of this now.

    Jack and the beanstalk | LearnEnglish Kids | British Council

    Without realising it is magic the grandmother asks that the dull day become sunny and the weather improves. She wishes out loud that her husband was not so ill. The girl takes the teapot home but it rattles. When they arrive home the grandfather is feeling better.

    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
    Best Wishes (A Short Story) Best Wishes (A Short Story)
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