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Counting Your Blessings
Every morning at the break of dawn, the cry of the guitar would begin to echo down the empty city streets. And as the sun rose higher and the streets grew fuller, the guitar played on, unstopping. It played songs of the water, and songs of the wind. It told stories of distant lands: the faraway desert and the lush rain forest. It carried emotion in every note, joy, sorrow, hope, and fear.
The source of the beautiful music was a young teenage boy, sitting on the marble steps of the church. He was a poor boy, who lived in the small space that the church provided him and his family with. He had next to nothing, only the clothes on his back and the guitar that he played. His worn, forest-green hat sat next to him on the step, gradually filling with money each day, so that he could support his mother, father, brother, and sister. He played his guitar day in and day out, never tired of doing the thing he was so passionate about.
One day, while experimenting with some chords on the steps, an old man walked up to him and sat next to him. Nothing but silence was passed between them until the old man said, “These are trying times, are they not?”. The boy nodded slightly, moving his hat closer to him, because he was afraid the man would try to take his money.
The old man saw the movement and chuckled. “No, boy, I wouldn’t take your money... I am a magician! I could have all the money in the world if I chose. In fact, the reason I am here is to offer a deal, to make you the richest man in the world!”
The boy was intrigued, and urged the man to go on. “We will make a deal. I will give you a million dollars right now, on one condition.”
“What is it?”
“You must give me your hands.”
The boy was confused. “Excuse me, I think I heard you wrong... did you just ask me for my hands?”
“Indeed... I believe your hands for a million dollars is a fantastic trade. Matter of fact, I’ll make it a million dollars in gold! Fame and fortune! You’ll never get an offer quite like it.”
“But, if I had no hands, I couldn’t play my guitar!”
The old man laughed. “But you would have a million dollars, boy! Forget that silly guitar, do you know what you can do with a million dollars?”
The boy looked at his guitar and said, “No sir. I have never been a millionaire, but I know what makes me happy, and this guitar makes me happy. I refuse your offer, sir.”
The old man shook his head, and disappeared.
The next day, the man came back, and repeated what he had said the day before, “These are trying times, are they not? I have another offer for you, my boy, one you can’t refuse.”
“What is it this time?”
“You said last time that you valued happiness. Well, I can give you a life time of complete bliss and happiness, for the fair price of your eyes.”
“My eyes! Sir, without my eyes, I could not see a thing!”
“Yes, my boy, but you’d be happy. Besides, you could still relearn to play the guitar. There are many famous blind musicians!”
“I couldn’t see the beauty in the world, then. I would never see the flowers bloom, or the people passing by, or the kites flying overhead. All those would be memories! No, sir, I will keep my eyes.”
The man disappeared again.
The next day, “These are trying times, are they not? Kites are flying today, look.”
Indeed, there were kites flying in the lot behind the church. Young boys ran around with rainbowed kites, the tails flying in the wind. They chased each other playfully with sticks, acting out great adventures. Their laughter and jokes filled the air.
“Boy, I am glad you kept those eyes. Wouldn’t have been able to see that! My, those boys. Remember that childhood bliss, boy? Wasn’t that wonderful?”
The boy reminisced about his own earlier memories and smiled.
The man whispered in his ear, “Ever heard of Peter Pan, boy? He got to stay a boy forever! It was like a dream.... you know what I could do for you? I could make your life a dream. You could control it, you could decide it. All I need from you is your lips.”
The boy shook his head immediately. “If I had no lips, I would never sing again. No sir, I will not take your offer!”
The man inched closer, a desperate look on his face. “Boy, how about this? You could be the strongest man in the world! You could dig ditches 60 feet deep, lift large stones without a trouble, be able to build buildings without breaking a sweat! Just your legs, boy, that’s all I’d need!”
“What would be the use of strength without solid legs to support myself on? No.”
“Food! You’re hungry, boy, aren’t you? You’re a growing boy, you need good food! Keep you healthy, eh? Food! I’ll give you mountains of food!”
“Eh.... your shoulders?”
“Boy,” the man was so close now that his putrid breath came in waves up the boy’s nose. “These are trying times, my boy! These are necessary things! All of them! I’m offering them to you for petty prices! Think about this! Tell you what, I’ll give you every single one of the gifts I’ve told you about, for only your tongue! What good is a tongue? A tongue is useless, boy, useless!”
The boy glared into the eyes of the man and said firmly, “I’ve told you once, and I’ll tell you again. No. Now leave me alone!”
“One, one offer more, that’s all! I know what you want, boy, ah, I’ve figured you out! You’re a lonely boy, you need some love! You see down that street there? All you need to do is take a short walk down that road, and there will be a lovely girl there, and she will love you and comfort you for all of your life. Eh?”
“Sir, I don’t trust you, sir. Only a walk to find love? There must be something else!”
“Nothing else, boy! I swear it!”
The boy stared down the road and was silent for a minute. The old man leaned forward, certain he had gotten a deal now.
But the boy surprised him. “Sir, get away from me now, before I alert the police. I don’t believe you, nor do I trust you! I'm not about to give up my blessings, the things that make me happy, for these things you are offering. I trust in fate, sir, not playing with magic!”
And the old man, scared of the fury in the boy’s voice, disappeared quickly, and never returned.
The boy sighed with relief, and began playing a song on his guitar and singing, glad for all the blessings he had, and that he planned to keep.