Once again my muse Ino and I each wrote a flash fiction story with the same title.
Marbles by Candy Ray
I was throwing marbles through the door of a doll’s house. But it wasn’t a murder game, or a war game with cannon balls. It was target practice, like shooting a goal in netball.
You didn’t understand. You’ve never understood, always thought I was doing something evil, something that had got out of control. Perhaps you lived in that doll’s house. Or perhaps you couldn’t see that to the mind of a child, the front façade of a house doesn’t have to be a house at all; what I was seeing might have been a crumbling wooden fence with a large hole in it, or a canvas with a target hole at the back of a bowling alley.
You didn’t even notice that the front façade was on hinges and I had opened it out wide, so there was no house behind it. It was fun to swing it, like the door to the next world. All you could think of was that the game must be about wrecking a house, and you wanted to take the doll’s house and my marbles away from me.
You should have tried riding on one of the marbles, to see how it felt as you belted through that front door- it might have been exhilarating, like riding down a slide. We could have developed it together into a fairground ride and sold it to the funfair industry with their tacky reputation and tacky bulbs, some of them gone out at irregular intervals along the strings.
Instead you had to be a misery, and you stomped out of the room calling back, “keep your nasty game, then.”
That’s what I say to you, too- keep your nasty game.
Marbles channelled from Ino
She looked into the depths of the marble and saw a red curl, probably made from a bit of paper but looking like a roughly peanut-shaped jewel. It was beautiful- if fact, all the marbles were: red glory and blue glory, yellow sparkles like sunshine and orange carrot slivers.
She put them all into a box, a treasure chest of worthless gems made only of cheap glass, taking up room where genuinely valuable treasures might have been stored.
For several weeks afterwards her mind was full of marbles. She saw them before her twirling, pushing her to collect more of themselves for the treasure box, and not even to take them out and play with them. Was she starting to turn into a miser, or a jackdaw ?
She changed her route to school so as not to pass by the shop window where she had originally seen marbles, some in packs like the one she had already, and others single, collected into a large wicker basket.
Yet she still felt as though they were rolling invisibly after her along the street, over her shoes and then, far more dangerously, under them just where she was stepping. If she gave in to this impression she would soon be crawling instead of walking, reaching out for the marbles as she crawled to pick them up and stuff them into her pocket, and when she had enough of them, rolling them towards parked cars and trying to hit the wheels. If she hit her target and they rebounded off the wheel and came back to her, would she leave them on the pavement to trip up others, and then to end up in the road?
But she had to get a grip on herself, for there were no marbles on the pavement: they were only in her head, or of course in her box back at home, taking up valuable room on the windowsill.
She decided to play with the marbles with her friends, and only to buy a new marble if one was to get lost and had to be replaced. That would return her to sanity and the marbles to their proper place, in the games of children. She made this resolution while walking to school, along the road that didn’t pass the shop with the marbles. It was a good resolution. But she never did get there, all because of the marble under her foot.
Do you think it was a real marble?