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The Magical Jelly Beans
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Tommy loved jelly beans.
Store-bought ones were OK, but the best were from a small sweet company that only made them at Christmas time. The jelly beans came in a round tin with a picture of Santa winking on the lid.
Each year they added a new flavour, and you had to guess what it was.
Inside the tin was a form that you had to send back to them when you guessed the new flavour.
Tommy always guessed right but as yet he had never won the grand prize, which was a year's supply of their jelly beans.
Christmas was approaching fast, he couldn't wait for this year's new flavour. There were only ever six new beans in the tin, so he had to chew them slowly until he guessed what the new flavour was.
His father had just finished building a new workshop and was ready to knock down the old wooden one. Tommy helped him move everything and the last thing to be ripped out was the work bench. As his father carried the heavy wood outside, Tommy saw an old rusty tin in the corner. Thinking it was probably full of screws, he was about to give it to his father when he noticed through the grime a picture of a jelly bean.
Using his tee-shirt to rub it clean (because boys do things like that), he was surprised to see that it came from the same sweet company that made his favourite jelly beans. The lid was rusted solid so he took it to his father to undo. Finally it came off and inside were three red jelly beans. Although they looked fresh, the date on the tin was over fifty years old, so he promised his mother that he wouldn't try and eat them.
Tommy put the tin on a shelf in his bedroom where he kept all his other Christmas tins. The next morning the old tin was on his desk. He put it back on the shelf. The day after that it was downstairs on the hall table. Again, he put it back on the shelf.
Every morning the tin was in a different place, even though his family denied moving it, he thought it must be one of them playing a trick on him.
Several weeks later when Tommy was sitting at his desk in school, he heard a funny rattling sound. It was coming from his school bag. Inside was the old rusty tin, and it was moving, causing the beans to rattle.
They were just about to start a math test, and the teacher had told them to be quiet.
Tommy tried to hold the tin down but the lid sprang open and one of the red beans jumped out onto his desk. He quickly covered the bean with his hand and held it down tightly before the teacher saw.
Halfway through the test Tommy had to let go of the bean to turn a page but luckily the bean just laid there.
There was a question he didn't know the answer to but he had to tick one of the three boxes even if it was wrong. Slowly the red bean rolled onto the page and stopped in the second box.
Tommy ticked that box and found out the next day that it was correct.
Although he put the bean back in the tin, by the next day there were only two beans left.
"Were they magical beans?" Tommy asked himself.
Nothing else happened for quite a while but the tin still moved around the house every night while the family slept.
It was Christmas Eve and Tommy's mother was in the kitchen baking.
No one noticed the tin appear on the table until the lid suddenly flipped open and a bean jumped out and fell on the floor right under her foot causing her to slip sideways just as she was about to open the oven door. There was a loud bang inside the oven as the turkey exploded and hot fat ran down the glass door.
"Oh my goodness," she said in horror. "One second more and the turkey would have exploded in my face."
Christmas morning came and there was only one bean left in the tin.
Tommy had opened all his presents but the one he wanted wasn't there.
Trying not to look disappointed because he had lots of wonderful things, he was surprised when his father burst out laughing and reached behind his cushion to give him the Christmas tin with Santa winking.
He was in no rush to try the new flavour because he knew he only had six chances of guessing.
Christmas and the New Year had been and gone, and Tommy was down to the last new flavoured bean.
The taste reminded him of something but he couldn't remember what.
One day on his way back from school he was passing the local sweet company when the last red bean in the rusty tin started to rattle.
Tommy opened the tin and the bean jumped out.
It rolled into the shop and jumped onto the counter.
It finally stopped on a box of ginger candy.
"Of course." Tommy said with a big grin on his face.
The next morning the old rusty tin was empty.
Tommy sent the form back to the sweet company and was delighted when he not only won the prize of a year's supply of their jelly beans but was told that he was the only person to guess what the new flavour was.
The old rusty tin still sits on Tommy's shelf with all the others, but it's still his favourite.
Before going to sleep at night he likes to imagine what good deeds the red jelly beans did for other people because on the tin it says, 'Contents 50.'
A Short Story by Sheila Helliwell
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