Be Careful What You Wish For
I usually take a short refreshment break, and having consumed some tea
from a small thermos and eaten some home-made bread topped with butter-fried chanterelle, now all packed up, returning to the path, I was on my way again.
Needing to stretch old muscle and bone after sitting idle for awhile, I
walked in a way, swinging and rocking my shoulders, that resembled
dictator Putin walking the ten-mile corridor from his office to the Russian
Duma! Suddenly, from nowhere, a cackling woman’s voice shouted:
“Male chauvinist pig!” “You macho-brute!” “You misogynist asshole” at me,
and on turning round a couple of times and eventually looking down, I
located a scruffy little, troll-like, old hag walking parallel to me on the
other side of the ferns, still muttering obscenities, now under her breath.
The temptation to counter-attack her insults became too great
“You old bag, you’re so ugly and nasty, you should be locked in a turret away
from the world! Just because you’ve had bad luck with men, don’t take it out on
I said rather too hastily and angrily back to her.
But then, strangely, I was back sitting by the lake again drinking my tea,
and the old hag was sitting on the long seat beside me.
transition that had occurred, and feeling I’d been a bit too rude to a very
old and decrepit woman, was offering her some tea and a share of my
sandwich, which, after three attempts to get her attention, to my surprise
As was expected with such an obnoxious, toothless person, she slurped
and gorged the tea and food down while still muttering what sounded
like nearly inaudible profanities.
I was looking at her with disgust, when she cackled to me:
you’ve been kind to me, I’ll grant you three wishes, but you have to tell me what
they are in just one minute, before I disappear for good.”
I was amused for a moment by the typical cliché witch situation she had
concocted and made me a part of. But then panicked, thinking rather
anxiously, times running out, and what have I got to lose…. a golden
opportunity perhaps, if I’m not careful. So thinking quickly, I blurted out
three things I thought would be desirable, and on looking round to get
confirmation they’d been heard and understood by the old hag,
she wasn’t there! She had vanished without uttering another word!
Completely baffled by what had just occurred, and cursing my own old
age and tendency to get lost in daydreaming and loose fantasy, and after
drinking a last glug of tea, and slipping all in my backpack again, I was
returning to the homeward path, to get on my way again, when I spotted
a huge orange container, where such an object had never been placed
before. There was no road for a lorry to deliver it.
overflowing as the wind was blowing bank notes off the top…. like
Autumn leaves in a breeze. I trapped one under my foot, and picking it
up, eagerly looked to see the currency.
“Bloody Zimbabwean dollars!” I shouted out angrily.
“Worth a few quid, if that, for the whole bloody container!” Continuing on my way, I thought what a vicious and crafty old bag that
witch was, and on starting to climb the hill, found myself unusually tired
and out of breath after a just a few short paces.
“What a daft bugger I am!” I blurted out again.
I wished for only “Good health”, when my current health was “Excellent!”
Now, I’ve lost all my hard-earned exceptionally good physical condition!
“That bloody old witch!” But then even more strangely, I was suddenly back sitting by the lake
again feeling fully awake as if I’d just woken up from a harrowing
nightmare, and my thermos of tea was still warm, and my sandwich
half-eaten, as I’d left it?
The sun was starting to go down, so I finished my little picnic, slipped
everything into the backpack again, and retraced my steps back onto the
homeward path. I had gone about a hundred yards when I heard what I recognised as
Bach’s Chaconne being played some way behind me on a piano, and
even when I sped up to quite a fast pace, the person playing kept up and
was clearly following me.
When the path passed a large rock, I hid behind it and waited, and just as
the music was at its loudest, jumped out to confront the pianist. And
there was this little man, yes of course, ten inches tall, continually playing
on a small piano hung with a string from his neck!
Worst of all, however much I closed my eyes and hoped I would be back
at the lake again and rid of him, it didn’t work, and he followed me
home, and everywhere after that. Looks like I’m stuck with the wee
fella’ for life!
On the positive side, the missus and I have to make love in slow triple time now, which is good for the heart.
Then, typical, when the missus cursed the old witch for not choosing prestissimo, I was back at the lake again, feeling suddenly wide-awake at rapidly darkening dusk, my thermos of tea was cold, magpies, who had scoffed my remaining sandwiches, were squawking peculiarly, and the pianist, who gave us pleasant, if monotonous, entertainment, was gone!