The teacher at the boarding school snatched a boy’s smartphone from him on the playground. “Those are banned!” She spouted before storming off with the device. The kid’s eyes welled up at the feeling of betrayal. Another boy comforted him “don’t worry, you’ll probably get it back. They’re just banned cos the rich kid lost his phone and his parents say someone stole it.” The tears stopped. “Come over here. We’ve got something better.”
Down the path and through the bushes, the other boys had gathered. Who knows what the teachers might think if they found out? Drugs? Needles? Pornography? The two newcomers waited until the teachers weren’t looking and darted down the path. Upon poking their heads through the thicket, they saw all the other boys kneeling around a three-foot-wide ring. They were all hunched over, watching intently. It looked like a Satanic ritual. This is what kids do when you take their smart phones from them.
They play marbles.
The game was getting heated. One of the boys was about to clear the last marble out of the ring when a teacher stormed through the hedge. She grabbed the oldest boy by the hair and yanked him through the branches. Another teacher followed and intervened just as violently, grabbing two boys and satisfying her need to excercise her power. The rest of the group dispersed, but the consequences were soon to follow.
What had they done wrong? Who knows? When it came time for the teachers to level the charges the counts were gambling, illicit and suspicious behaviour and general disobedience. They would all be reprimanded and their marbles would be confiscated. The teachers couldn’t handle a student body that wasn’t absorbed by their screens.
Late that night, two boys couldn’t sleep. They looked out the window at the stars. “See that star, at the bottom of the Southern Cross?” Said one to the other. “Yep.”
“Well, that star’s my marble. Which one’s yours?”
“The big orange one over there.”
“Okay, I’m going for the little marble next to my big marble.”
One of the boys found a coin in his pocket and called “heads”. He lost the toss, but that’s okay. The boys spent the rest of the night playing marbles with the stars. They’d found something that the teachers couldn’t take away from them.