One day while walking along the beach a boy came across a fish lying in the sand. The boy stopped to watch the fish flop back and forth. As the boy reached for the fish, it spoke. “If you help me,” the fish said, “I’ll grant you a wish.”
The boy picked up the fish and tossed it back into the sea. Without a reply or a thank you the fish swam out to deep water. The boy watched it for a moment then continued on his way.
The next day at about the same spot the boy came across the same fish flopping around on the beach. Again the fish made promises. Again the boy complied. And yet again the fish swam away without a second glance.
It continued like this for several weeks until one day after the boy had finished his daily chore, an old man walked up and asked, “Why do you do that? Day after day you throw it back in, but he never comes through for you. He never grants you a wish. He’s a liar.”
The boy thought for a moment. He looked out at the ocean and then back at the man. “No, Sir,” the boy said.
“But he never grants a wish for you,” the man said, “You’re the same poor boy you’ve always been. Let him burn in the sun, I say.”
The boy shook his head and smiled. He looked up at the man with proud eyes. “No, Sir,” the boy said, “All I wish is for him to live.”