Emergency Beans | Teen Ink

Emergency Beans

October 15, 2019
By genevieveb23 BRONZE, Austin, Texas
genevieveb23 BRONZE, Austin, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Let me ask you a question  if you were in 6th grade and got the opportunity to win a can of beans just by playing math bingo, would you participate? Me, I wanted that can of beans without giving it a second thought. I was determined. The prize: Kuner's Black Beans. 

That day, I walked out of 5th-period math with a new can of beans. As I walked outside, with pride I wrote: MY EMERGENCY BEANS in all caps with a black sharpie. The expiration date: May 10th, 2019. 

My prized possession lived in the side pocket of my backpack. EMERGENCY BEANS staring back at me from the top of the can. My plan would be to open them only if I was starving—which never did happen. The beans came a lot of attention. My friends learned about my random side companion and were very confused. 

Once a student thought it was so funny she told my teacher too. Every time I walked into class, the teacher always said: “How are those beans doing?” A year after this bean journey began, my friends and I started planning what to do with them on the day they expired. 2019 seemed so far away so I toyed around with their crazy ideas: give them back to my math teacher, bury them or give the beans to one of my friend’s sisters due to their matching expiration date, her 16th birthday. All of these ideas were stored in the back of my mind and stayed there for almost four years.

In fact, they stayed with me throughout middle school. They stayed with me through new backpacks, the dust, and many more math classes. As May 10th, 2019 neared the countdown began, it was hard to believe that it had been three years since I received the can. 

The years blurred together but the only constant were my beans—and the comments. “What's that in your backpack?!” or “Do you really still have that thing in there?” Yes, I had thought about what I'd do with the beans after they expired, but not what would happen once they did in fact expire. Would they smell? Would the can burst open? How would I know they had truly expired?

May 1st, 2019 came along with the stench of beans. It was nearing the end of the six weeks which meant tests, especially my most dreaded, Algebra. Throughout the day my backpack had a subtle scent, I didn’t think about it; it could’ve been my lunch box or anything. My friends said it stank a little, but I didn’t think to go into a full inspection of my backpack. Not until Algebra. 

I took the test and as I was putting my things back into my backpack, someone mentioned the beans. It was the same conversation I had had a million times. “When do your beans expire?”

“Oh yeah, those...? I got them in 6th grade. They expire May 10th, pretty soon huh!” At this point I didn’t even need to look at the container to remember the expiration date, I’d said it so often, the date is forever glued into my brain. 

I pulled them out of my backpack to show the person, but immediately sprung back and clenched my face. Those beans were expired. I looked more closely at the can and noticed a little cracked dent with mold. I thought I had nine more days, but no, they decided to expire right away—at that moment. My teacher, obviously very confused and concerned for me, questioned my sanity because why would anyone keep a can of expired beans in their backpack. I was told to throw it away immediately after I took a great picture and emailed it to the teacher that originally given me the beans. To this day I still remember those beans they were very much loved, but most of all my backpack still remembers them too because I never washed that thing, which now, my sister uses for school. Her inheritance.

The author's comments:

My name is Genevieve Barrett, I go to the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, I love writing and reading in my ELA class. 

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