The orb danced through the air, spinning, in a parabolic arc. Each rotation caused a twinkle which reflected in the eyes surrounding the ring. For a breathless lifetime it hung there until gravity won out and it descended, landing with a clack and a thud. Then the world was silent and small and only contained the two young bodies who were extended over the ring. The bodies relaxed and contracted as the electricity left the air. One relaxed in triumph, the other in defeat.
The clack seemed to hang in the air for an eternity. It echoed off the nearby walls, once, twice and then all as quiet.
“No,” the boy said breaking the silence. He repeated himself without making a sound and then kept on repeating himself growing louder and louder until he was almost shouting. He thought of some bad words to say but he could not remember what they were exactly, the R-Rated movie his brother watched with him had been so long ago. He reached back into his memory, trying to capture the image of the theater they had snuck into, desperately grasping at the smell of the popcorn, the pimples of the teenager checking tickets and the blood on the screen as the monster chased down its victims. The boy reached far back into his memory for the words he had repeated that night in front of his mother which earned him a mouth washing and a spanking, and he grasped at the worst one he thought he could remember.
“You’re a forking cheater!”
“Nuh-uh!” the girl yelled. She snatched the orb which had brought her victory with lightning speed and then she pounced on the others. A blue one filled with gold stars, an orange one that looked like it would taste like his favourite popsicle, a clear one that turned tiny things behind it into giants and a black one that was pockmarked from overuse and darker than coal, they all disappeared into her rough leather satchel.
As she continued collecting marbles the boy fought back tears.
“I’m telling! You cheated! You stole my marbles!” he screamed. His voice was more than loud enough to carry across the playground but it was drowned out in the shouts and yells of the other children.
“Nuh-uh!” the girl said again as she stood up. Then she turned on her heel and ran off with her black locks whipping behind her head.
The boy clenched his fists and tried his best not to cry. He could not cry again. They would all laugh like they had the last time. But he could not hold himself together and soon he was under a tree far away from the others and sobbing. It did not matter so much that he had lost the game; he rarely won anyways. It did not matter that he had lost to a girl; the other boys already teased him mercilessly for being the shortest and slowest and fattest kid in class. The worst part was that he had lost the black marble. Cam’s marble. He cried for a while and hoped that nobody would see him all by himself watering the tree with his grief.
Then minutes later he heard footsteps. They were running towards him over the soft grass but they weren’t the heavy steps of a grownup, they were the quick strides of a kid like him.
“Go away,” he said to the footsteps as they got closer but they did not stop and they did not turn around.
Then, when the footsteps were right in front of him they stopped and the boy looked up through red eyes to find the girl looking down at him. She pushed her hair out of her face and smiled with big a toothy grin and big brown eyes.
“What do you want?” the boy asked, wiping his eyes. The orbs in his head felt raw as he wiped away the tears with his sleeve.
It seemed to take her forever to answer the question. Time hung still. A breeze sent autumn leaves tumbling from the tree. For a moment they were trapped in a shower of colours and for a moment the boy saw the girl not as the one who stole his most prized possession but as… he could not quite say. It was a shower of feelings. He wanted to cry again. He wanted to scream. He wanted to push her down and take all of the marbles and run far away where nobody could ever find him. But he also wanted to smile because he remembered in class when her hair would keep falling over her eyes and she would have to brush it off and he remembered her arguing with her mom about the head band and how she hated it because it was yellow and her mom made her take it but she just hid it in her locker before they went into the classroom.
The girl’s grin widened and she dug into her pocket. Then she stretched out her arm and opened her hand to reveal the black marble.
“Do you wanna play again?”