Marble

An amorphous blob gestates in a furnace and is ejected at an inhuman temperature. It glows orange in its wooden crib. The ovum cools and turns red, before taking on its ultimate, translucent nature and revealing its iridescent innards. What is the creature that lives inside this curious blob of molten intrigue? It’s an egg that will tragically never hatch. Its prismatic manipulation of light augments its beauty, but its potential is limited. This egg will not become a dragon, or a serpent, or even a duck.

A child watches the marble as it is birthed from the furnace. Its creator is no master, but the child’s wonder is inflamed regardless. The marble has within its glassy exterior, a universe of wonder. It has changed from a glob of honey to a droplet of pure solidity. It is locked in a chamber to cool and the child’s imagination turns it into the eye of a pirate, the poop of a golden goose, the snack-food of a diamond-toothed demon, and the force-field protecting a tiny universe.

The same marble is observed by the pouting girl in denim overalls. She got dressed up for a separate occasion, but she got stuck with her little brother. Seeing the joy in his eyes at this object of fascination, she turns it into the target of her contempt. A stupid, useless marble that you can’t even play with until it cools down. And being made from glass, it’s probably brittle; and being colourful and pretty, no doubt the teachers would confiscate it. And once it cools down enough to touch, what good is a marble anyway?

Mum is remembering the marbles she fed into her school principal’s exhaust pipe in her youth. She smirks to recall the sound of the poor man navigating the school parking lot speed humps. Mum was a real troublemaker.

The furnace opens again and a blast of hot air licks all of the spectators. Nearly everyone forgets the old marble and turns their attention to the new.

…nearly everyone.

The marble, almost forgotten, sits in the cooling chamber awaiting its destiny. Will it sit on the mantelpiece of an elderly couple or will it spend its days in the bottom of a fish-bowl? Maybe it will be an unwanted gift, or maybe a pleasing keepsake.

Time passes as the marble metamorphoses in its warm cocoon when suddenly…

…crack!

The marble is no more. It is but two hemispheres, destined for the trash. But, the little boy keeps thinking. In his mind, the marble is the key to a spherical padlock which fastens a chain to a golden gate in the clouds. In his mind it is also the ball bearing of a crystal train that carries the dead to the promised land. It’s a frozen flame, or maybe it’s molten ice. Perhaps its potential will be realised even though it is no more, thanks to the imagination of the boy it inspired.

T.

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