The Marble

Posted: April 26, 2013 in Magic
Tags: , , ,
Madelyn's marble

Madelyn’s marble

When her parents told her that her favourite uncle was going to move to Australia, Madelyn was devastated.  Uncle Jim had always been fun to be with.  And he never let her feel that she was ‘only’ a girl and two years younger than her two brothers.  Unlike her own parents, uncle Jim never treated her like a baby.  He often took Madelyn and her brothers to watch baseball games, they went to the zoo, the aquarium, the movies, etc.

The whole Trent family went to Logan Airport to bid uncle Jim farewell.  When it was Madelyn’s turn to say goodbye, he knelt down and secretly handed her a tiny leather pouch.  “Keep it hidden and have it with you at all times.” he whispered.  Madelyn slid the pouch in her pocket and hugged uncle Jim tightly.  She didn’t trust her voice.  There was so much she still would have liked to say and – she just couldn’t speak.  Their eyes locked, and she knew he understood – as he had always done.  The family stayed at the airport until the plane took off.  The left the airport and went to the bus stop.  The 171 arrived as if on cue.  They rode in silence.  Madelyn secretly opened the pouch in her pocket.  Its content felt cool and comforting to the touch.  A marble?!  Madelyn did not dare to take it out.  Her uncle’s words still echoed in her mind.  She looked at the people they passed.  Most of of them looked rather happy.  It was a sunny afternoon.  And the snowstorms were now history.  A blond man at the traffic lights looked up as they passed by.  He grinned and she felt her skin crawl.  The marble in her hand twitched for a second and felt searing hot at the same time.  The sensation passed as fast as it came.  ‘What the …?!” – Oops, she was not allowed to say or even think that.  The family got out at the Melnea Cass Blvd stop.  Pete and Joe ran to the next block to visit some friends.  Madelyn and her parents walked up to their flat.  Madelyn went to her room.

At last!  Madelyn took out the pouch and opened it.  The marble inside was tiny and so beautiful!  It did not resemble the usual marbles kids play with.  She held it in her hands, and again it felt cool and comforting in her palms.  She closed her eyes, smiled and mouthed a thank you to uncle Jim.  The marble tickled her palms.  She opened her eyes and her hands.  The marble felt and looked as it did before:  cool and comforting to the touch.  She decided to carry the marble in her pocket throughout the day, and to deposit it in the pouch under her cushion at night.

She got used to the marble’s tiny reactions.  Depending on the respective sensations, the learned to choose different directions, or to do things differently than beforehand.  Her parents stopped treating her like a baby, her brothers accepted that the had her own opinions.  Everything was really great except…Charlie Dugan.  He had several courses a week together with her.  He was rude, generally bad mannered.  In brief, he was giving her the creeps.

Friday, at lunch time, she went to her locker to deposit her math stuff and get her sports gear.  The neighboring locker sprang open and hit her left temple.  Everything went blank.  Murmuring blurred voices, something cold and wet over her eyes…  What a weird dream?!  “She’s waking up!”, someone shrieked.  She felt the cold and wet stuff on her eyes being removed.  She blinked cautiously.  The nurse bent over her.  “Are you all right?  What happened?”  Madelyn tried to sit up.  Thankfully, the nurse helped her as the world kept on spinning around her.  Finally this sensation faded.  The nurse and the principal anxiously watched her.  “What happened?”  Madelyn looked at the principal.  “The neighbouring locker sprang open and hit me.”  – “You didn’t see…?” – “No.” – “Good luck, kid.”  The principal turned around and strode back to his office.  The nurse offered her to rest on the bench in her office until the school bus was due.  Madelyn was relieved to lie down a little.  She put her hand in her left jeans pocket to feel the comforting marble.  It was gone.  She wanted to jump up.  She couldn’t.  Her marble – gone!  The only link to her uncle Jim.  She wanted to cry.  Her eyes were dry, though.  She thought, and came to the conclusion that it must have vanished when the locker’s door hit her.

After the volleyball training, Jill came over to fetch her.  They joined the other kids from their neighbourhood at the bus stop.  When they got in and found their seats, Jill giggled.  “Charlie was acting worse than ever.  The coach ordered him to run six rounds.  When he had done them, the coach told him to come over and join the team.  He didn’t.  He just kept on running.  At the end of our training session, coach had Andy and Ben take him out to the locker rooms.  Despite their strength, they had a pretty hard time trying to stop him.  He was sweating all over, red as a beetroot, eyes wide open, looking more crazy than you can imagine.  Hey!  Look!  That’s him, out there!  Running home!”  Madelyn looked.  It was an eerie sight.  Charlie was rather fat.  As he was running, he seemed to have lost at least 10 kilograms.  As Jill had described, he had a wild look in his eyes.  She could see that he was exhausted, he looked like he was going to faint – and yet he kept on running.  When Madelyn and Jill got off the bus, they could see Charlie in the distance.   They could already hear the staccato of his breath.  It sounded asthmatic.  The color of his skin was no longer reddish, it was more of sickly yellow shade.  He passed them without realizing they were there at all.  They shrugged.  “Time to relax, Maddy!”  Jill followed the route Charlie had taken; she lived in the same house, two floors above the Dugan family.  Madelyn went to her family’s flat.  Her brothers were not yet back from school, her parents were still at work.  An hour later, the phone rang.  It was Jill.  “Believe it or not, Maddy!  Charlie is still running up and down the stairs.  The stairs are wet, already!”  Madelyn started doing her homework.  She was still at it when her parents came home.  Her father started cooking, her mother did the online banking prior to helping out in the kitchen.  When Pete and Joe came back they were nonplussed.  “Guess what!” they said.  Their mother lifted her right brow.  “Charlie Dugan must have lost his marbles!  He is sprinting up and down the stairwells.  Must have been doing this ever since he went home!”  A vivid discussion started.  Madelyn didn’t listen.  ‘…lost his marbles!’  What if he had one marble too many?!  And why did the marble do this?!

Madelyn took her keyring and left the flat.  The discussion in the kitchen was still ongoing.  They wouldn’t realize any time soon that she was missing.  She went over to the house where Jill and also Charlie lived.  The stairwell was dark.  She could hear Charlie running, however.  She switched on the light.  He was running down again.  “Stop!”, she ordered.  He circled her and ran upstairs again.  She went to the lowest step and spread her arms.  “Stop!”  This time he stopped, breathing heavily.  “Give – it – back!”  Her voice sounded strong and confident.  Charlie put his hand in his pocket and produced the marble.  As soon as Madelyn held it, Charlie collapsed on the stairs.  Madelyn pocketed the marble and knelt down beside Charlie.  He needed an ambulance.  She called out to his parents.  “Mrs. Dugan, Mr. Dugan?!  Charlie’s collapsed on the stairs – call 9 1 1!”  After Charlie had been taken to the Boston Medical Center, Madelyn went home.  Her family had calmed down and was just getting seated for supper.  She washed her hands and set down at the table.  She fingered the marble in her pocket and smiled.  “Hey, how’s it going?” Joe grinned and nudged her with his bony elbow.  “Everything is fine now.” Madelyn replied.  “Charlie has been taken to the BMC.”  They ate in silence.

On Saturday afternoon, Mrs. Trent went to Walgreen’s.  There, she met Mr. Dugan.  He told her, that they had visited Charlie at noon.  “He is still very exhausted.  They even need to feed him intravenously.  And he remembers zilch, he does not even remember that your daughter found him.  They are going to keep him for a week – just to make sure he really regenerates.”  As Mrs. Trent told her family the news, Madelyn wondered:  ‘Charlie doesn’t remember.  This means that the marble is still a secret.  I definitely need to be more careful!’

Madelyn was true to her word and kept the marble in a silken pouch, attached to the inside of her respective jeans pockets.  As before the marble indicated to her good guys and bad guys; good opportunities and risks not to be taken.  When Charlie finally came back to school, they all found him utterly changed.  He was no longer a rude, bad mannered, ill tempered fat guy.  The marble no longer twitched when he was around.


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