Jack came home from kindergarten with his pants pockets stuffed full of candy. He ran inside, kissed his mom, gulped down a glass of milk, and ran out the back door to the garden calling, “Hi, Mom!” over his shoulder as a happy afterthought. His mother, Emily, watched him from the kitchen window, grinning. Mrs. Bard had already called her to explain that she had given Jack the jelly beans. They had read “Jack and the Beanstalk” in class, that morning, and Jack had been enthralled with the tale. He had hung back, after class, to ask if she had any beans, so that he could try growing a beanstalk like that when he got home. He really wanted to give his mother something special, like a golden goose egg, for Mother’s Day. He was sure he could handle the giant, now that he knew how Jack did it. And he wouldn’t get greedy; Jack would just take one small egg, and not try to steal the whole goose.
Emily watched Jack dig a hole and bury the jelly beans in it. He carefully covered the multicolored candies with dirt, patting it down gently with his little hands. Mrs. Bard had tried to set reasonable expectations: Growing such a marvelous beanstalk could take many years, maybe ten or twelve of them. There was no way to know. “In the book, it happened overnight,” Jack reminded her. He felt very confident that he would be handing his mother a golden egg on Mother’s Day morning.
Jack ran back to the house and uncoiled the garden hose. He turned the spigot on, adjusted the nozzle so that it would let out the gentlest of spring rains and mist, and watered his little jelly beans. Then, since it was such a hot, sunny day and he had worked so hard, Jack turned the hose towards his own face and opened his mouth wide. His mother, watching from the window, gasped – then tried hard not to laugh. He might not need a bath tonight. She decided not to think too hard about what might be growing on the inside of the warm garden hose. She’d drunk her share from it as a child and survived.
Jack leaned over and shook his head and torso like a dog, sending droplets flying through the air like sparkling gems. He carefully wound the hose up again, like a snake lying in the sunshine, next to the back door, and came inside the house. He kissed his mom and gave her a great big damp, earthy hug that smelled of water and garden hose, dirt, sweat, and sunshine. “Wash your hands, Jack!” she said, laughing.
Jack scootched the step stool up to the counter and scrubbed his hands at the kitchen sink. “Did you have a good day today, Mom?” he asked.
“I did, but it’s better now that you’re home, Little Man. How was school?”
“It was fun! We counted things and practiced figuring out how many would be left if we shared them with out friends. I got a new pencil and a an apple and some je–some candy. I’d share it with you, but I already ate it,” Jack said, searching his Mom’s face to see if she could tell he was fibbing about that. He didn’t want to spoil the surprise of her present. “You’re not mad, are you? I can maybe get you some tomorrow.”
“That’s okay, Jack,” said his mother. “Was it good? I hope it was good.”
“I don–yes! It was yummmmy!” Jack had to be very careful, or Mom might guess what he was up to. He’d almost admitted he hadn’t eaten any of the jelly beans at all.
“Did you eat so much candy you don’t have any room for dinner?” asked Mom.
“Oh, no! I didn’t ruin my appetite, I promise,” said Jack, his little face so very earnest.
Mom smiled. “Good! Because I’m making your favorite – hamburgers!”
“Thanks, Mom! You’re the best ever Mom.” And that’s why Jack went to bed that night, after dinner, dreaming of climbing a beanstalk before breakfast, to bring back the golden egg for her.
Jack set his alarm clock for six o’clock in the morning. It would still be a little dark, but maybe he could climb up the beanstalk and get the golden egg before his mom noticed the giant plant in her back yard. That would make her curious, and she might climb up the beanstalk first. Or mistake it for a weed and cut it down. That would definitely spoil the surprise!
Night passed quickly. Jack didn’t dream of giants or geese or golden eggs – he slept soundly to pass the time faster. When his alarm went off, he quieted it and crept downstairs in his pajamas. Mom wasn’t up, yet. He unlatched the back door and slipped outside. His mother was already out there, marveling over the tree that had grown up overnight. “Jack! What are you doing up so early? And what are you doing out here?”
“I–what are you doing out here, Mom? You’re spoiling the surprise–”
“Oh, no, Jack, honey, I’m surprised.” Mom pulled Jack close beside her and together they marveled over the tree. It was not a beanstalk. It wasn’t a vine. It was a giant green tree with rainbow-colored fruit. Mom plucked some of the berry-sized fruits and popped them into her mouth. “Oh my gosh, they’re good! They’re delicious! Try some, Jack.”
They were jelly beans. Thousands and thousands of jellybeans!
“Wait here, Jack.” Mom ran inside and returned, minutes later, with a large tablecloth. She and Jack spread the tablecloth beneath the wide branches of the jelly bean tree. She shook the branches and it rained jellybeans! Jack climbed up into the tree and shook some of the higher branches. Jelly beans pelted his Mom like hailstones, but she laughed and opened her mouth wide and caught a sour cherry bean between her teeth.
Jack popped a couple of green apple jelly beans into his mouth and together they hefted their harvest and carried it into the house. As the sun came up, it began to rain. “Oh, NO, Mom! It’s going to dissolve the beans!” They watched from the kitchen window as the rain dripped from the branches in red, green, vivid yellow, blue, and purple drops. As the sun burned off the small rain clouds, the tree was framed in a spherical halo of rainbow shimmer light. Multicolored leaves wiggled happily in the warm breeze. Jack laughed and realized there was no keeping surprises or secrets from his mother. He wondered if Mrs. Bard would believe him when he told her, later, what had happened.
“It’s a little early, Mom, but…happy Mother’s Day!” Jack grinned wide and threw his arms around his mom’s waist.
This is #9 for StoryADay May. Pete asked for something less dark and dreary, and I was ready to write something sweet and silly! Hope you enjoy today’s story.
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