Feb 19th – Matches and marbles

February 19th – Matches and marbles


They were always cool to the touch. That was the fascination, to begin with. They way they felt in the hand, or in the pocket as you slid your hand though them, letting the cool glassiness slip between your fingers. It made your pocket go out of shape, and you lost the sharp outline of the blazer, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was the contents of your pockets, the clack of glass against glass, the spread of your fingers through the unforgiving coldness. That was the start.

You loved the way they looked against the light: sunlight, lightbulbs, different lights. The twisted centre you always saw as a shard of peel, caught in the fossilised amber of the perfect sphere. You liked the bubbles, the flaws, the imperfections. Some of the others had single coloured marbles, ugly balls of red and blue and green and white, they were never the same. You allowed yourself a black one, once, for the strangeness, the other, but it was what you could see inside that mattered more, and so the novelty soon wore off.

You played games. A circle drawn on the concrete, a rough chalk line for perfect spheres within. You perfected your technique: a flick of thumb sending the weapon skittering towards its victim, a claiming of prizes. There were two or three, though, that you never played with, that were too perfect. These you kept your inside pocket, one a spoil of war, the other two from an innocuous bag in a Christmas stocking. These were the perfect three.

One had an orange twist, perfectly formed, free of the imperfections that the other two had. These two looked simple enough, plain enough, but it was at night when the three of them came alive. At night when they blazed with momentary flashes of beauty, held close to the eye as a lens to the striking of a match.

You stole the matches. There were always matches: in the kitchen, in the drawer next to the cooker, in the living room, next to the fireplace. The ones from the living room were better: you could strike them anywhere, on anything, not like the safety versions from the kitchen that made you cut off a strip of striking paper when an empty box was thrown out. The matches were the door to the land of dreams, to visions of something extraordinary, something unearthly and uniquely yours.

You would wait until the house was silent, then, white knuckle fist clenched tightly around your three marbles, you would creep down to the kitchen. You didn’t dare do it in your bedroom. In total darkness, marble held between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand close to your eye, you stuck the match, and beheld beauty. Three matches. Three strikes. Three marbles.

This was your secret.

Where are your marbles now?


Inspired by a prompt from here

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