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Don’t ask for a thing unless you know precisely and absolutely what it is you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it.

In “John-Jin” by Rose Tremain, the narrator, Susan, loved the pier pavilion as a young girl.  She used to go there with her father and she describes it as something that had “far more things going on than you could imagine from the outside; it was like a human mind in this one respect.”  At the end of the wishing well game, before the pier pavilion was closed down, Susan and her father would make wishes.  Susan learns that her father always wished for another child to find its way into their lives.  This wish finally becomes a reality with John-Jin– a Chinese boy who was abandoned, wrapped in a football scarf in a woman’s toilet.  Susan’s parents adopt John-Jin.  Susan’s father, a man who “enjoys a destination,” feels as though his wishes have been answered because they have John-Jin; however, this is not the destination.  Problems arise when the family notices that John-Jin is not growing.  Their parents see a doctor that prescribes growth hormones to the small boy.  Susan wonders where they come from and what they do but does not want to be dismissed for her thoughts so she instead thinks of a dreamy boy who she dances with.  Time passes and Susan is now in dance school when she learns a valuable lesson– “Don’t ask for a thing unless you know precisely and absolutely what it is you’re going to get and how you’re going to get it.”  The old pier pavilion Susan had wanted back was never going to, only a new one in its place.  The boy who could dance beautifully and would preoccupy Susan’s thoughts was now in prison for stealing a van. The growth hormones that made John-Jin grow eventually gave him CJD– killing him.  All of these things that were once wanted were only followed by grief.  For Susan’s parents, the wish that took ten years to fulfill also took ten years to be taken away.

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