The Red Jelly Bean
by Cori Mann
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“C’mon Pete we have to walk a little faster or we are going to be late for school.” Pete’s ten-year old older sister said with a tone of frustration in her voice.
“It’s just my legs won’t go fast Mary.” Five-year old Pete whined.
“If you don’t walk faster I am walking on without you. Do you want to go all alone?” She said.
“Mommy said you can’t leave me because I’m too young.” He reminded her as they walked down the poverty-stricken street with his hand in his right pocket resting on a red jelly bean.
“If you don’t walk faster I will leave you here I promise you that!” Mary said angrily now.
They continued to walk the long trek to school while Pete tried to speed up his steps as he splashed his running shoes into a big puddle of water.
“Mary my Sunday school teacher said God wants us to be nice to people so you have to be nice to me okay?” He said with his big blue eyes looking hopefully up to her not so happy face.
“Okay Pete I will try but please keep trying to walk faster or I will hold your hand all the way there and make you walk fast.”
“I don’t like holding your hand it makes my hand sweat.”
“Then walk quickly and don’t talk just walk.” She ordered.
Silence took over the remainder of the last five minutes and Mary continued to walk while enjoying the silence and the realization they were almost at the school. Up ahead she could see many other kids rushing to get to school before the bell went to tell them it was time to go in.
“Pete we're almost there and just in time too before the bell goes!” she exclaimed while looking down at Pete who was surprisingly not there beside her anymore.
“Pete! Where did you go? Last time I looked you were right here!” She yelled in hopes to see Pete emerge at any moment.
Standing there waiting and looking disappointed to see no Pete. Panicked now and not knowing what to do now she ran toward the school to tell someone there she lost her brother.
Meanwhile little Pete was on a journey of his own. He saw a cute kitten a few minutes ago and stopped to pet it.
“Hi little kitty you are so small and so cute. Do you want to come to school with me?” He said sweetly as he picked up the kitten that looked innocently into his eyes while meowing.
Pete took his backpack off his shoulders and opened it up so he could place the little baby kitten in it. Once the kitten was inside he closed it up putting the backpack on his back again. Walking now toward the school he realized Mary was nowhere in sight.
“You okay back there kitty?”
He walked thinking he would see his sister somewhere soon on the way. Pete just kept walking thinking about his sister and the kitty in his backpack.
Back at the school Mary was in a frenzy not knowing where Pete was. Mrs. Hayward, the school secretary said she would see what she could do about it and suggested they call her mother.
“But my mom will be so mad at me I lost my brother.” She said with a worried look on her face.
“No worries it is not your fault accidents happen and I am sure your mom will understand that. Just sit here for a few minutes.” She tried to reassure Mary as she picked up the phone to call their Mother.
Now Pete stopped right in his tracks looking around as he realized he was now lost. How did this happen? What do I do now? Where is Mary?
Many questions were flogging him and he was feeling overwhelmed by them. Afraid now that he lost his way he began to look for someone he could ask for help. There were some people he saw on the street but he didn’t recognize anyone and mom always said don’t talk to strangers.
“What are you doing out on the streets all alone boy?” The gruff old voice said from behind him.
“What?” Pete questioned as he looked up fearfully at the strange old man with torn clothes and a white long beard.
“Son, you look lost.”
“I lost my sister and lost myself too and I am hungry and so is the kitty I have in my backpack.” Pete started to cry now.
“You have a kitty in your backpack?” The raggedy old man questioned.
“Yes, would you like to see it?” Pete said trying to stop crying.
Taking off his backpack and opening it up to find the kitten was gone. All he could do was cry now. He was lost scared and hungry, couldn’t find his sister and now the kitten he was going to take to school was gone!
“I’m scared!” Pete cried as he looked hopelessly up at the man.
“It’s okay to be scared I have been scared lots of times. I have been lost just like you and spent many a night hungry with nothing to eat. I wish I had something to give you but I don’t have anything. I’m just a poor homeless man."
“What is a homeless man?” Pete asked.
“I have no home to live in. No bed to sleep in. No money to buy food.”
“At my church we give things to people who have nothing. Maybe you should come to my church and get some stuff. They will help you there. Maybe they will even give you a bed. Sometimes we eat at church. Maybe they can feed you. They have a plate we put money in and there is always a lot of money in it. Maybe they will give you some money.”
“Son, God gave up on me years ago and I don’t think your church wants to see an old man like me.” The man said sadly.
“They would be nice to you and they will even give you new clothes. The ones you are wearing are not good anymore.”
“Pete! Where have you been?” A familiar voice yelled frantically from across the street.
Pete looked over and saw his mom running hurriedly toward him. Taking his knapsack off his back he put it on the ground and opened it up reaching his hand in to grab his lunch.
“Here is my lunch I want you to have it so you are not hungry anymore, Jesus will make more just like he did with the bread in the bible. Then you will always have something to eat.” Pete said as he handed the old man his lunch.
He went to meet his mother who was almost right in front of him now.
“Who is that man Pete? I told you to not ever talk to strangers.” His mom chastised worriedly.
“Mom he has no home. He was nice to me. He is lost just like me and is hungry too so I gave him my lunch.”
“I am so glad you are okay Pete and it was nice of you to give the man your lunch.”
“Mom I forgot to give him something.” Pete said as he walked over to the man who was sitting on the curb now eating the lunch he gave him.
“I want you to have this too. It’s my special red jelly bean. Every time I remember a bible verse my mom gives me a jelly bean. Don’t eat it just look at it every day to help you remember God loves you okay?”
“Thanks boy. Tell your mom she makes a good lunch.”
Two weeks later the same man walked into a local church carrying in his pocket the jelly bean Pete gave him.
“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”
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