This episode is the third in a three-part series recorded live with musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra plus an all-star cast at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Think about a time you had to make a tough decision. Did you ask others for their advice? Or did you make your choice all on your own?
In the tale we’re about to hear, one woman realizes that the difficult choice she faces isn't the only choice she can make!
Our story is called “One Wish.” You’ll find versions of this tale from Jewish lore, as well as the countries of Ireland and India.
Joining us on stage at Tanglewood was a quartet of musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra — Richel Childers on horn, Clint Foreman on flute, Ben Levy on double bass, and Suzanne Nelsen on bassoon — plus a quintet of all-star actors: William Christian, Josh Gondelman, Hrishikesh Hirway, Tina Packer, and Faith Salie.
About the actors:
William Christian is a Washington, D.C.-born actor known for his roles in All My Children, Days of Our Lives, The January Man, and Prison Break.
Faith Salie recently starred in her own Off-Broadway solo show, Approval Junkie. She's a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning, a storyteller for The Moth, and a regular panelist on the NPR news quiz Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!
Josh Gondelman is also a Wait, Wait regular. The Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian has written for such shows as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Desus & Mero. His debut standup special People Pleaser is available for streaming now.
Tina Packer was born in England, where she trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and played in television series for the BBC. In 1978, she co-founded the world-famous Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts, where she’s worked ever since. She has directed every single one of Shakespeare’s plays, and taught the entire canon at over thirty colleges.
Hrishikesh Hirway is a singer-songwriter who hosts the podcast and Netflix show Song Exploder. He’s also creator and co-host of the podcast Home Cooking, with chef Samin Nosrat; and the West Wing Weekly, with actor Josh Malina.
This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Supervising Producer Nora Saks. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn. Sound-recording and engineering at Tanglewood provided by Emily Jankowski and David Corsello.
ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes, click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.
Things To Think About After Listening
If you met the magical white deer from the story, what would your one wish be?
Find a piece of paper and draw a picture of your wish. Then share your wish with someone you have fun with — a family member, a friend — and, if you’d like, share it with us! Grown-ups, you can email a photo of your kiddo and their artwork to email@example.com.
NARRATOR: Not so long ago, in a town not so far away, there lived a woman named Talia.
Talia and her husband Zev were farmers. Thanks to the long hours they spent tending their garden and selling vegetables at the market, the couple lived in comfort. Yet Talia couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.
TALIA: A child! All these years together, and Zev and I have never been blessed with a child of our own! Oh, how I wish that someday, somehow, we could make it so!
NARRATOR: But as time went by, Talia’s wish continued to go unanswered.
One spring morning, while Talia and Zev were eating breakfast, there was a knock at the door. When Talia answered it…
JULIAN: My daughter! My darling!
NARRATOR: …who should she see standing on the stoop but her father, Julian – an aging fellow with a face as wrinkled as a prune and hair as silver as the stars.
TALIA: Father! This is quite a surprise! Come in!
JULIAN: Thank you, Talia. And good morning, Zev!
ZEV: Good morning, Julian. What brings you here today? You live all the way across the country!
JULIAN: I know, I know. I’ve come to ask… a little favor. (beat) Okay, not a little favor. A huge favor. I’m wondering… if I can move in with you.
TALIA: Move in with us?
ZEV: Like, live here?
JULIAN: Yes! I’m no spring chicken, ya know! It’s getting harder for me to be on my own and take care of myself! Going up and down the stairs takes nearly all day! And every time I try doing the laundry I either throw out my back, my hip, my neck, or all three. I haven’t worn clean underwear in weeks.
JULIAN: And don’t get me started on these eyes of mine! My vision is so terrible I need a magnifying glass to read the morning newspaper. A magnifying glass! Pretty soon I’ll need a telescope!
ZEV: We’re sorry to hear it, Julian.
JULIAN: You’re sorry? I’m the one who’s sorry! Getting older is no picnic, kiddos! And if it is, it’s one of those picnics that’s been raided by ants and ruined by rain and the only dessert is Aunt Zelda’s gawdawful fruitcake. You remember that one, Talia? The rock-hard brick with the raisins that taste like they date back to the Dark Ages?
NARRATOR: Talia and Zev gazed at each other. Then they gazed at Julian. Clearly the man’s mind was as sharp as a tack. But his body was growing weaker. And it pained them to think about him struggling on his own.
TALIA: You know what, Dad? You can absolutely come live here!
ZEV: That’s right! We’ll take wonderful care of you!
NARRATOR: Julian pointed toward the window.
JULIAN: Because my moving truck’s parked outside!
NARRATOR: At first when Julian moved in, everything was great. Talia and Zev loved having family around, and their fields were bursting with vegetable plants.
But then came summer.
The weather was hot and dry, and Talia and Zev’s crops were withering under the nonstop sun.
To make matters worse, Julian wasn’t doing so well either. Some days he was too weak to get out of bed, and his eyesight was fading fast.
Talia was sick with worry. One morning, as she sat on the dusty ground in her shriveling garden, she broke down in tears.
TALIA: What am I going to do? Dad’s health has taken a turn for the worse! Zev and I are about to go broke, since these vegetables are too pathetic to sell at the market! I mean, who in the world wants to eat a sad, shriveled tomato? Or a wilted head of lettuce? Or —
DEER: Actually? Since you’re asking, I do!
NARRATOR: Talia whipped her head around. Standing behind her was a beautiful white deer, its alabaster fur gleaming in the sun!
TALIA: Okay, now I am officially losing it. I could have sworn this deer just talked to me!
DEER: That’s because I did!
NARRATOR: Talia’s jaw nearly dropped to the ground.
TALIA: Oh wow! You did talk! What’s going on here?
NARRATOR: The deer tilted its white head toward Talia’s vegetables.
DEER: …you say that nobody wants to eat your ‘sad tomatoes,’ and ‘wilted lettuce,’ but that’s not true! Food’s been hard to come by during this drought. So for weeks I’ve been visiting your garden and taking little bits and pieces back to my fawns.
TALIA: You have?!
DEER: Indeed! Thanks to you, my family and I are surviving this horrendous heat! And that’s why I’d like to return the favor by granting you a wish. Wish for one thing — one thing only — and it will be yours.
NARRATOR: Talia was stunned. A talking deer, offering to grant her one wish? This was incredible!
TALIA: Um, I have to say, I’m kind of in shock at the moment… Do I have to choose my wish right now? Or can I take some time to think about it?
DEER: Of course you can take some time! Meet me here tomorrow at noon. You can give me your answer then.
NARRATOR: And with that, the deer bounded away… leaving Talia with her sad tomatoes, her wilted lettuce, and her golden opportunity to have one wish — just one wish — granted.
[Theme music in]
NARRATOR: What do you think Talia will wish for?
What would you wish for if you were Talia?
We’ll find out what happens, after a quick break.
[Theme music out]
[Theme music in]
NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir, and welcome back to Circle Round, live at Tanglewood! Today our story is called “One Wish.”
[Theme music out]
[Score music in]
NARRATOR: Before the break, a magical white deer offered to grant Talia the farmer one wish.
Talia lived with her aging father Julian and her husband Zev, and she knew there was plenty she could wish for.
TALIA: Let’s see… Father’s health and eyesight have been failing, so I could wish for him to get well again! … Of course, with the way our farm has been failing, maybe I should wish for money so we don’t go broke! … But I can’t forget how much Zev and I have wanted a child of our own. So perhaps I should wish for a baby! Oh, if only I didn’t have to choose just one!
NARRATOR: When Talia was growing up, she’d always turned to her father for advice. So she went up to Julian’s room and sat down at the edge of his bed.
TALIA: Okay, Dad, this is going to sound crazy, but um… I just met a talking deer and it offered to grant me one wish and I wonder if you have any advice for what that one wish should be?
NARRATOR: The old man squinted his eyes.
JULIAN: I’m sorry, but it seems my hearing is going the way of my eyesight! I could have sworn you just said you met a talking deer who offered to grant you one wish…?
TALIA: Yup. That’s precisely what I said.
JULIAN: Wow! That’s really something! So… if you get just one wish… why not wish for money? Money will solve all your financial troubles!
TALIA: True… but Dad! What about making you well again? Isn’t that more precious than money?
JULIAN: I would never ask you to make your one wish on my behalf! You’re an independent woman, Talia. The choice is yours!
NARRATOR: Talia loved and respected her father, but she knew she needed a second opinion. So she called her husband Zev, who was out running errands.
TALIA: Hi, honey! It’s me. This is going to sound crazy, buuuuut…
NARRATOR: Talia told Zev the story of the talking, snow-white deer, and its offer to grant just one wish by tomorrow at noon.
ZEV: Okay, so let me get this straight. Did you say you met a talking, snow-white deer?
ZEV: And it offered to grant you just one wish?
ZEV: And you have to decide by tomorrow at noon?
ZEV: And you’re sure you didn’t get too much sun today, sweetheart? Because this whole thing sounds kind of bananas —
TALIA: Yes I’m sure I didn’t get too much sun today! This really happened, Zev!
ZEV: Alright… okay! The way I see it, the answer is easy! You should wish for a child! You and I have been wanting a child for years, right?
TALIA: We have… But how can we take care of a child if we’re flat-out broke?
ZEV: Then wish for money!
TALIA: But all the money in the world won’t make my father well again!
ZEV: Then wish for your father to get well again!
TALIA: Ya know, you’re really not helping, Zev!
ZEV: I’m sorry, honey, but this is your decision to make. The deer offered to grant you one wish by tomorrow at noon. Others can offer advice, but in the end it’s up to you!
NARRATOR: Talia knew her husband was right. But the more she thought about what her one wish should be, the more muddled she became!
That night, Talia’s brain was tied up in knots as she fretted over what her one wish should be. After hours of tossing and turning in bed, she went outside and paced back and forth on the moonlit porch.
TALIA: Okay. I can figure this out. I know I can. If I wish for money, Zev and I are set for life. But if I wish for my father’s health to return, then he’ll have a much better life! But if I wish for a child, I’ll have the one thing Zev and I have been missing for all these years. Oh, goodness. Whatever will I do?
NARRATOR: By morning, Talia still hadn’t come up with an answer.
TALIA: Okay, this is getting me nowhere. I think I’ll take a walk into town. Nothing like a nice stroll to clear my mind!
NARRATOR: So Talia took a walk into town. She passed the fishmonger, his window full of silvery, scaly fish lying on big trays of ice. She passed the butcher… and the cheesemonger… and the corner bakery, where the rich aroma of cookies and cakes drifted through the open door.
But when she crossed the street to get to the next block, she came to a shop she’d never seen before.
TALIA: A toy shop? Since when has a toy shop been here?
TOYMAKER: We just opened, actually!
NARRATOR: Talia spun around… and came face to face with a man wearing a striped apron… a tiny pair of round spectacles… and a wide, warm grin.
TOYMAKER: I am the toymaker at this fine establishment! Please! Come in!
NARRATOR: Talia hesitated. With no child at home, what did she need with toys? And besides, she should probably go back and check on her father – or her sad, wilted garden.
But the jolly toymaker was so smiley and pleasant, Talia could hardly tell him no. So she followed the man inside.
TOYMAKER: Let me tell you, miss! Each and every item inside this shop was handcrafted by me personally! Every puppet, every stuffed animal, every game! But my favorite thing to make in the whole wide world… are these.
NARRATOR: The toymaker strode over to a tall set of shelves. Each shelf was piled high… with jigsaw puzzles.
TOYMAKER: Tell me, miss. Do you know why jigsaw puzzles are called jigsaw puzzles? Do you…?
NARRATOR: Talia shrugged.
TALIA: Um… Is it because they’re made with a jig-saw…?
TOYMAKER: That’s right! It’s a marvelous process! Just marvelous!
NARRATOR: A spark of excitement danced in the toymaker’s eyes as he began to explain.
TOYMAKER: You see, in order to make my puzzles, first I draw the design on a big flat piece of wood! Then I guide the wood through the blade of my jig saw to make all those curvy, wavy, and knobby puzzle pieces! Isn’t that wonderful?
NARRATOR: Talia had never particularly been interested in puzzles, but she flashed the toymaker what she hoped was an appreciative smile.
TALIA: Absolutely! It’s wonderful.
TOYMAKER: Right? But you know what’s even more wonderful than that? After I use my jig saw to create all those different pieces, I mix them all up, I put them in a box, and I put them on these shelves here! Then… with any luck… someone will come into my shop and take the pieces home. They’ll lay those pieces out on their desk or table. Then slowly, slowly, they’ll figure out how all those pieces fit together!
NARRATOR: The toymaker leaned in close.
TOYMAKER: Because after all…when it all comes down to it… isn’t that what life is all about? You have all these different pieces… then you figure out how all the pieces fit together!?
NARRATOR: Talia stared into the toymaker’s dancing eyes.
TALIA: "You figure out how all the pieces fit together”… “how all the pieces fit together”...That’s it! I know exactly what my one wish will be!
NARRATOR: Talia threw out her arms and wrapped the toymaker in a hug.
TALIA: Thank you, good sir! Thank you!
NARRATOR: She raced home as fast as her legs could carry her. Just before noon, she reached her garden, where the white deer was waiting.
DEER: Well, Talia? Have you figured out what your one wish will be?
TALIA: I have!
DEER: Alright, then! Tell me what you wish for!
TALIA: Well… if I wish for money, then my husband and I will be able to afford everything we need, and we won’t have to struggle to get by.
DEER: Fine! So you wish for money…?
TALIA: But if I wish for my father’s health to return, then he’ll be so much happier!
DEER: Terrific! So you wish for your father’s health…?
TALIA: But if I wish for a child, then Zev and I will finally have a daughter or son to call our own!
NARRATOR: The deer shook its snow-white head.
DEER: Talia! I told you you could wish for one thing! One! But so far you’ve named three! So, tell me. What will your one wish be?
NARRATOR: Talia took a breath. Then she looked the deer right in its big, bright, brown eyes.
TALIA: My one wish…is for my father to see his grandchild grow up happy and healthy on a big, successful farm. That is my one wish.
NARRATOR: The white deer was quiet for a moment. Then… all at once…it began to laugh.
DEER: Well done, Talia! You’ve taken your three wishes and found a way to fit them all together into one! It’s a bit unconventional, but I’ll allow it. You shall have your one wish.
NARRATOR: And with that, the deer bounded away into the woods. Talia never saw the creature again.
But what she did see was a much brighter future.
Business at the farm picked up so much that she and Zev were able to buy a bunch more land, and build a barn for their new cows, horses, and goats.
Not only that, but Talia’s father Julian got well again! He regained his eyesight and felt as spry as ever.
And Talia and Zev had a child — a child who spent many happy years visiting the toy shop in town, and buying up all the jigsaw puzzles.
So in the end, just as Talia wished, Julian got to watch his grandchild grow up happy and healthy on a big, successful farm.
All because Talia figured out a way to fit all the pieces together, and in the process, find some peace of her own.