Today is Recycle Day! To help celebrate this occasion, we have a very special story for you. Check out the Tin-Can-Man!
by, Rosemary Gemmell
Five-year-old Matthew was learning about recycling. His mom put newspapers, cans, glass jars and bottles into boxes to be recycled. At first Matthew thought it was something to do with pedalling a bicycle. Now he knew it meant some things could be used again in a different way.
Matthew loved helping his mom put the empty bottles into the right container for each colour of glass. One for clear glass, one for green glass, and one for brown glass. He especially liked to hear the SMASH! as each one reached the bottom.
Most of all, Matthew loved to crush the empty cans. He wore his thick outdoor shoes to stand on the cans to crush them hard without hurting his feet.
One day, Matthew was putting the crushed cans into the recycling container all by himself. Mom was talking to a lady outside the nearby store.
“Remember to put one in at a time, Matthew, and watch you don’t jag yourself on sharp corners,” said his mom.
“Okay. I’ll be careful.”
Matthew felt very grown up as he began to drop the cans into the container. It looked like the hungry mouth of a big green monster, gobbling the cans as fast as he fed it. He wondered what happened to the old cans once they were inside.
Suddenly, Matthew felt something hard and cold catch hold of his hand.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Matthew tried to look into the container. He couldn’t see anything through the narrow gap.
“You hit me that time!” said a small voice.
“Who said that?” asked Matthew. He looked round but no one was near. Maybe the container really was a monster! Maybe it was going to gobble up his hand along with the cans.
“I said it,” came the same voice.
Matthew stood with mouth wide open as a tin hand grabbed hold of the opening. Then two grey eyes peered at him from inside the container.
“Who are you?” asked Matthew. He rubbed his eyes. He must be dreaming again. He peered at the container but couldn’t see anything.
The eyes had disappeared but the next minute, the tin hand came out of the opening again.
“I’m a tin-can-man of course. Are you going to get me out of here or not?”
Matthew thought the tin-can-man sounded very grumpy. Maybe he would be grumpy too if he’d been stuck inside a big container. He took the small hand and pulled. It was stuck. He pulled again even harder.
“Hey not so fast,” shouted the tin-can-man.
Then out slid a very thin, grey tin-can figure. It stood beside Matthew on very thin wobbly legs.
“Who are you, “it asked.
Matthew rubbed his eyes again, but it was still there. “I’m Matthew.”
“Quick come round the back before one of the giants sees me,” whispered the tin-can-man.
“What giants?” asked Matthew. What a strange little man.
“Those giants,” he said, pointing to Matthew’s mom talking to the lady.
“That’s just my mom and her friend. They won’t hurt you.”
“Yes, they will. They’ll chuck me back inside that green metal box. Giants don’t understand.”
Matthew shrugged, not exactly sure that was right, but his mom might stop him playing with tin-can-man. So he ran behind the container with the little man and they sat on the grass.
“How did you get inside the container in the first place?” Matthew asked. “I thought it was only for tins and cans.”
“We’re made in there, of course,” Tin-can-man said, as though Matthew should know what he was talking about.
“But they’re just old cans we throw out when empty.”
Tin-can-man sighed. “When you throw the old cans in, they soon join together to make a tin-can-man. But we haven’t had enough for a while and I’m the only one there just now. Will you get more cans for me please?” he asked Matthew.
Matthew nodded. “Of course, I will. I promise.”
The tin-can-man must be lonely all by himself. He was lonely too sometimes as he had no brothers or sisters.
Then the tin-can-man jumped up. “Oh, oh, the rain’s coming on. You have to help me back into the container before I get wet.”
Matthew lifted the tin-can-man carefully and was putting him back inside the container when he saw his mother coming towards him.
“Oops, I have to go now.”
“Come back again, Matthew.”
“Goodbye, Tin-can-man,” Matthew whispered to his new friend. “I’ll bring you lots of cans soon.”
As he walked away with his mother, Matthew turned and saw a thin grey hand waving from the container.
He would start collecting more cans as soon as he got home, then the tin-can-man wouldn’t be lonely anymore.
About the Author
Rosemary Gemmell is a Scottish writer of short stories, children’s fiction, articles, poetry and novels. She is a member of the Society of Authors, Romantic Novelists’ Association and Scottish Association of Writers. Scotland greatly inspires some of her stories and she loves to dance! Check out Rosemary’s blog and her website!