On a high hill under tall maple trees stands a small one-story house. Let's take a peek through the window, so we can see what's happening inside.
A father sits on the edge of a young son's bed that is shaped like a sports car. The man is speaking quietly to the boy. His words drift through the window screen like a gentle breeze. "David, I want to tell you a special story."
"You always tell me bed-time stories, dad."
"But today is different. You're finally ten years old, the same age I was when my father told me this story."
"He told you this story on your birthday, too?" David asked.
"Oh yes. There is so much to learn, as you grow older. And things are often very different than you expect." David listened, eyes opened wide. He loved his father very much. And he really enjoyed bedtime stories.
"This one is called the Hole Story," his father said. "That's h-o-l-e."
" David could hardly wait to hear what dad was going to say.
"This story I'm telling you," his father said, "really happened to me. It also happened to my father when he was ten. Then he passed the story on to me. It's about how precious three wishes can be."
Then he began
"One day in your travels you'll come across a hole in the ground. It's always in a particular place in the forest. Only ten year old boys seem to be able to find it."
His father was almost whispering, "How closely you listen to what I have to say will teach you many things." David listened earnestly as his father explained what happened to him, at the same age.
His adventure began next morning after breakfast. David was just ambling along on a trail in the bush back of his house. He was actually looking around for birds and animals. Suddenly, there it was. The Hole. Just like his father had said. It was surrounded by rocks and stones, and was in the ground at his feet.
How come he had never noticed it before? He had been this way more than a few times the past couple of years. David got down on his stomach, trying to see through some kind of haze. He spoke his thoughts aloud. Exactly the way dad told him.
"I wish a clown with polka dots would come up out of the Hole!" he shouted. And just like that one did. David soon saw a red nose and made up face. Spots peppered fat cheeks. The clown wore a large bow tie, floppy shoes with white gloves and baggy green pants. A yellow shirt with red and white braces finished the outfit. But, something was missing.
Where was the wide red mouth and white teeth with loud laughter pouring out? Right now, there were only tears falling down his cheeks.
"Whywhy are you unhappy?" David asked. "Clowns are supposed to be happy."
"How can I be happy?" the clown asked sadly. "There are so many boys and girls in this town who have nothing to laugh at. Some don't even have enough to eat. And their clothes are sort of ratty."
The clown flopped down on the ground.
David sat beside him. "But I'm happy," he said.
"Yes. You're one of the lucky ones," the clown answered sadly. Then he stamped off as if he was angry with David.
The boy watched the clown march down the road, complaining loudly to himself. "Pollution in the air! Hardly any fish left in Nova Scotia! And the price of an ice-cream cone keeps going up!"
"Are things really that bad?" David wondered.
Later that night in bed David thought about the sad clown. "Dad said I get the opposite of what I expect when it comes out of the HOLE." David was pretty wise for a ten year old. His blue eyes twinkled. "Wait till tomorrow," he smiled to himself.
When morning came, David hopped right out of bed. He swallowed his breakfast, waved good-bye to his mom, and rushed off.
"Where are you going?" Her words followed him as his feet thundered down the trail. He had no time to answer. A mischievous grin hung on his face.
David approached the Hole slowly then hung over the edge trying to see inside. He couldn't wait to see how the Hole was going to handle his second wish.
"I wish for a bird that can only moo like a cow," he said. Slowly but surely a beautiful royal blue bird flew towards him saying, "Moo. Moo."
David pressed his hands together. This was fun, he thought. His blond hair glowed in the sun. A wide smile showed all his teeth. But, all of a sudden "Poof" right before his eyes, the bird changed into a cow. It was a huge black and white Holstein, the same as the ones on the hills near Greenfield.
David couldn't even guess how that large animal came from that bird. As the cow came nearer, David reached out to touch it and find out if it was real. But wow, just like that wings appeared from its back and it flew away.
"I only wished for a bird that could say moo," David moaned. He even hoped the bird would sing when it came out of the Hole. He scratched his head in confusion. David could only watch in awe as the cow flew over the trees. It was going to be interesting explaining this to his mom, he thought. What do you suppose she would suggest?
During lunch his father eyed him thoughtfully. David had the feeling his bedtime story was some kind of a test. And he wanted to solve it himself.
The afternoon was warm as David walked down the path towards the Hole. He searched the sky for the flying cow. Or was it a bird? Oh well, whatever. No sign of them or the clown either. All of a sudden his ears heard the sound of laughter on the other side of the hill. Was it a party?
He ran as quickly as he could towards the Hole. The clown was standing there laughing. So was the Cowbird. Then the clown mooed loudly, as both disappeared out of sight down the hill. It was so rapid David was left shaking in his sneakers. Now he was really confused. He ran all the way home right into the arms of his mother.
At the supper table that night he poured out his heart. Words tumbled from his lips as a mountain stream. His mother's eyes opened wide with understanding.
His father listened quietly, a smile on his face.
David left the house afterwards with a solemn heart.
His parents watched him from the veranda. They were confident their son would understand the message of his bedtime story. And they were right.
This time David sat by the Hole and didn't look down. He pondered about the clown and why he was crying. Should David have asked for a happy clown? At least they were supposed to be weren't they?
Suddenly the clown appeared before him in a cloud of smoke. "I was listening to your thoughts," he said solemnly.
"Why aren't you a happy clown?" David asked.
"But I am," the clown answered. "Most of the time anyway. I just wanted you to see it's normal to be unhappy sometimes too." Then he disappeared.
And a bird burst out of the Hole, landing on the ground beside him. Its song was a beautiful serenade.
"How come you're not mooing?" David asked.
"Because I'm a bird, silly. That's why."
"Why did you turn into a cow?"
"Because you were trying to trick me," said the bird. "But I fooled you."
Then the bird flapped his wings and flew down the Hole.
David had one wish left. It was the thing he wanted most in the whole world. Mom and dad said it was fun to wish but not to be unwise.
When the boy wished for a clown, he didn't realize they could be sad too. And then he wished for a bird that mooed knowing it was a silly wish. It was also a wasted wish.
He made a promise not to be so foolish anymore. Maybe it was okay to cry if you were unhappy. Well, at least he learned something. There was one wish left. David thought very carefully.
Should he wish for clouds that tasted like marshmallows? No, that would be too much sweetness.
Should he wish for a tent that flies around like a magic carpet? No, that wouldn't be very useful.
Should he wish for a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end? That way, he could help mom and dad buy that new car they talked about.
He finally decided on the perfect wish. David wished mom and dad were standing beside him, right now.
And before you could shake a bunny's tail, they were. Their joy was more like a family reunion. Together they watched the Hole disappear. David gave his mom and dad an extra special hug
Many years later
In another town far away there is another house on a hill. What do we see as we look through the bedroom window?
A father is sitting on the edge of his son's bed. If you listen closely you can hear what the man is saying.
"Son before you go to bed tonight, I want to tell you a special bedtime story. It's about wishing for something that might turn out different than you expect."
The father's name is David and his son Brad is ten years old today.
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Richard & Esther Provencher 2007
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: email@example.com re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.