TALLY & the Mystery Marble

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TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:46 am

Blue. That was the first thing you noticed.

A summer-sky blue, when the wisp-clouds twirl. A blue that darkened as day progressed so that by twilight it was rich, deep and pure as water. And it was big. So big in fact, and so roundly perfect, that ten tall men standing upon each other's shoulders could not see over it. It gleamed like a mirror, reflecting the entire village. No earth every smudged, no ice ever frosted and no rain ever stained it. Grandmas' grandmas grew up in its shadow and no one remembered how or when it had come. But, oh, it was grand. A grand and mysterious ball...
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:39 pm

Now, the people of the village had different ideas about the history of the big, blue ball.

Some were members of the Ancient Civilization Institute, made up mostly of starmites and celebrites of degrees. They would meet once a month or so to discuss the ball's statistics, and any other findings that may herald the return of the 'builders', those great ones that brought the blue colossus into being for only they knew what purpose. Some might have considered them stuffy, but really they were quite shy. Once one got to know them, they could be rather fun - in a stuffy sort of way.

Then there was the International Brotherhood of Skyball Buffs! To the Brothers, the ball was a sure sign that God was a sport's fan! All one had to do to belong was believe that the ball had once been part of the sky, and in having a good time. Membership included weekly trophy banquets, daily barbecues and hourly football matches on the village green.

Lastly, there were the Offspring of the Eternal Egg Watchers. Egg Watchers was an exclusive organization whose families had been in the village as long as the ball had been. They believed it was alive, the egg from some gigantic creature! And when it hatched, it would devour the village, wrecking devastation and havoc, leaving only broken blue shell - and the devoted faithful - behind. Since nobody knew when the ball got there, it was virtually impossible to become a card-carrying Egg Watcher. But, for certain individuals with the right connections, how long your family lived in the ball's neighborhood became, let's say, a very small detail.

Not everyone belonged to the "big three", but enough people did that if you weren't a member of one of them, you didn't have much of a social life. In short, you either felt strongly about the ball or you didn't.
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:05 pm

But there was one person who was absolutely smitten with the big blue ball, a little girl named Tally.

Tally lived with her parents in a cozy little house a short distance from the ball. As far as her folks knew, their family had always lived in the house and the house had always been near the ball (however, not being the right 'sort', they weren't invited to join the Egg Watchers). Tally would spend part of each day sitting on the porch steps, watching the villagers reflected on the ball's side, all blue and skinny, like a fun house mirror.

Why did Tally love the big blue ball? Well, if you asked her, she'd probably shrug and dig hole in the dirt with her big toe, the way some kids do when they can't or don't know the answer to a question - almost as if they wished they could follow it down and disappear.

Tally's thoughts were her own. That it was an enormous balloon that had lost its way. Or a space ship filled with extraordinary beings, studying her and her village through the shiny blue skin. Or that it was a toy, a marble dropped by a giant child. But if it were none of those things - or maybe any of the two together - it made no difference to Tally. The ball's color, size and shape made it all the more lovable. Her only regret was that her 'friend' was too big for her tiny arms hug. So, she gave it a name that she could get herself around - "Em-Em", for Mystery Marble.
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:29 pm

Life in the village continued just as it always had, until one morning when the people awoke to a very faint music. A gentle sweet melody – not unlike a music box – played over and over, but so lovely that the more one heard it, the more one wished to hear it again.

Everyone could hear it, and at first no one could figure out where it was coming from. Then the villagers grew alarmed. The music was coming from no other place than the big blue ball. They leaped to conclusions.

“The founders of our traditions are trying to contact us!” cheered the Institute. Quickly they decided to put together a delegation to meet and a parade to greet the builders of The Enormous Sphere of Lapis Lazuli (they always felt that big blue ball was undignified, but to their credit they did keep that opinion to themselves.)

“The ball is calling to the sky to come get it! All right, Almighty Dude!” cried the Brotherhood. Always ready to party, the SkyBall Buffs scurried to add blue-berry cobbler to their post-game barbecue.

“The Monster is about to hatch, and devour the Wicked!” intoned the Chief Offspring.
“And it’s about time!” sang the Egg Chorus, and then they all joined in together:

“Let us repair – unto our lair – and prepare – the sacred shrouds!” It was soooo impressive – I wish you could have heard them.

In anticipation of just such an occurrence as this, they had plans of long standing, which was to make the shrouds and subsist on jars of pickled produce in underground shelters of their own making. Then, when the beast was finished devastating, they could all go home. Oh, I should explain – the shrouds were for them to wear, lest the builders mistake them for just anybody and wreak havoc on them instead.

Since Tally’s family didn’t belong to any organization, they didn’t know what to do...
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:05 pm

“Do you think the Egg Watchers would take us on now?” asked Tally’s father. “I mean, we do live in the shadow of the thing.”
“I doubt it,” said her mother. “If they’ve ignored us this long, they aren’t going to welcome us on as a big a day as this.” Tally’s father took a coin from his pocket.
“You think? Okay…so the shrouds and pickles are out, but maybe we can toss for the other two?” Tally’s mother looked at him with such pity, that he blushed and put away the token.

Mommy soon wrung her hands, and looked worriedly around. But Tally, sitting solemn and unafraid on the front porch, listened without a word. The serene little face calmed her parents, and after a while, they joined her.

Meanwhile, the Ancient Civilization Institute chose its delegation and began the parade. Colorful floats covered with fruit and flowers moved majestically down the main boulevard, while gaily-dressed dancers strewed pence of round blue crystal in their wake.

The Skyball Buffs dished up plates of terrific barbecue, complete with corn on the cob and potato salad, and everybody cheered the Henry Phil’s Blue Ball Cobbler. The game got off without a hitch, and a splendid time was had by all – except the losing team.

And in their exclusive underground suite, the Offspring of the Eternal Egg Watchers sewed their shrouds, each with a large blue circle over the heart, while serving up mounds of pickles to their hungry seamstresses. Only Tally’s family sat unnoticed at the base of the big blue ball, hushed in respect.


Morning became noon.
Noon became afternoon.
Afternoon became evening, and only the ball’s beautiful song could be heard in the chill night air as the communal lights came on.

No founders of a prehistoric culture appeared.
No football playing rescue party had landed.
And nothing hatched…
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:22 pm

While the Institute’s clean-up crew sullenly swept the parade route, their glaring delegation packed up and went home. And as smoke rose from the vigorously drowned barbecue pits, the Brotherhood could be seen gathering up their gear, their annoyance open to the glowing lamps upon the green. Clucking like outraged hens, the Egg Watchers headed home, their fashionable shrouds and emptied jars firmly in tow.

And as they did this, the members of the Big Three began to think of all the meetings they had attended, the dues they’d paid, the special events and headaches they’d undergone for one big round blue – and now ‘singing’ – thing that, ultimately, none of them could explain. And the more they thought, the more angry they became. For the first time they talked – really talked, to each other – and discovered that they were all mad at the big blue ball. They changed direction, almost as one, and started toward it…

Like a sea, they surged across the land, picking up bricks here, stones there, sticks of wood and metal pipes. All the way, they came, to the home of the family that lived at the bottom of the big blue ball.

Hearing the furious noise behind them, Tally and her parents got to their feet and turned to face the horde. For a moment, the mob gave them chase but the ball’s singing called them back and they turned their attention to the great round source of their anger.

“WE’VE BEEN HAD!”
“WE’VE REVERED, AND FEARED THIS STUPID THING FOR YEARS!”
“IT ENDS TODAY! TODAY WE’RE THROUGH! KILL THE BALL!”
“KILL THE BALL!”
“KILL THE BALL!”
“KILL THE BALL!”

And the people rushed by the stunned family, prepared to do the unthinkable, their faces mirrored in the shiny blue skin. Tally fell in her mother’s arms, and buried face first against her dress, held her breath
and waited for the end…
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:47 am

All went silent. It was as if someone had switched off both the crowd and the song with one flick of the wrist.

“It’s okay, baby. You can look…” Hearing her daddy’s voice, Tally raised her head. Her jaw dropped.
Standing straight and still, were the people of the village, their weapons fallen to their feet. All stared, awestruck, where the ball had stood for so many years. It had vanished and all the villagers could see, were each other.

For some time, no one moved. Then a person here, a couple there slowly started for home. Groups of three or four broke away from the crowd, some silent, others speaking in muted tones until no one was left – except the mother, father and child.

“What happened? Mommy, where is it?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart.”
“It’s probably okay, Tally.”
“How do you know, Daddy? Did you see?”
“No. No, I wasn’t looking.” The little girl’s heart was broken.
“I didn’t get to say good-bye! Em-Em left me! Left me! Didn’t say good-bye…”

Tally’s parents did know about the name and the attraction, even before her teachers and pediatrician brought it up to them. They tried telling her that the ball knew she was a friend, just by how she treated it. Certainly they never put in the time or knew of anyone else who did, sitting alone by its side all those years. But no one prepared them for anything like this, and as much as they tried to comfort their daughter, they were getting nowhere and knew it. Still, that didn’t stop Tally’s father from trying one last thing.

“Maybe, someday you’ll see it again.” The child’s eyes grew hopeful, then suddenly sad.
“When?” He couldn’t remember a time when he was being more truthful and wished he was not.
“I don’t know, baby girl. But it’s late now and it’s cold, and too dark to do anymore. Maybe tomorrow, then we’ll know more. Okay?”
“Okay.”

Taking her parents, one by each hand, Tally went inside the house. And when they were all safely inside, it was her mother that closed the door, and for reasons she didn’t know herself, drew and locked the bolt…
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:54 pm

The days that followed were very strange indeed. It was as though everyone were in dream. People bought things and left them on store counters. They’d go out and then forget why; they’d phone and not know for whom they were calling. All the villagers knew that something was wrong, but no one would say what it might be. Many slept ill and wandered through their days in a fog, but these were lucky, compared with those whose waking hours were haunted. Memories of their faces, marked and angry on the blue mirrored skin, followed those more sensitive souls. They kept busy, filling their hands with useful things, as if to blot out the weight of stick and stone.

It was many weeks before life started to seem normal, and twice as many months before the villagers began to regret their actions. They wanted to be better than they were. So with time, little by little, the hearts of the people became so changed that the village became famous for its loving nature. Whenever they traveled, no matter where they went, the villagers would be recognized as the “People of the Big Blue Ball” and it was all because of how they behaved. There could be no greater compliment in the eyes of the world than this…
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:22 am

And how was Tally’s family during this time? Well, out of everybody in the village, they were the only ones that didn’t seem to have any trouble. In fact, everyone who lived there said they were the ones who made village life so wonderful after the ball’s disappearance. They never blamed anybody for what happened, and they loved everybody regardless. Now, it wasn’t easy work to do this – oh, my no! – because Tally missed the ball terribly, and whenever she had a bad day, it was hard not to be angry or sad or blaming. But the family helped each other – Mommy and Daddy, too – whenever there was a problem. Somehow – someway – they came to know that this is what the big blue ball would have wanted. And that was what was best for everybody.

Still, Tally couldn’t help missing her friend, and wished that she could see it again, even if only for one last time…
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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Re: TALLY & the Mystery Marble

Postby shireling » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:15 am

It was one night, a long long time after Em-Em’s disappearance, that Tally awakened to a strange and gentle singing. She sat up, and there, to her surprise, at the foot of the bed, was a shiny blue ball. Still the same hue as she remembered, still the same roundness, but only as big as a peach. It floated to her open hands and she hugged it with joy, pressing her cheek against its mirror-bright skin. It felt beautifully warm there, its song settling to a tender, contented purr as it rubbed itself against her.

“You’ve come back!” she cried. “And you’re so small! Where did you go? Why have you taken so long? Oh, how much I’ve missed you!”

The ball didn’t answer – not in words – but kept to her cheek with a touch most gentle. It was then that Tally knew of the ball’s approval and pride in her, as well as its sorrow. It could not stay – that was plain – and how, where, what and why no longer mattered. Tally was seeing her friend again, and all her long-ago wishes were fulfilled.

“Don’t forget me,” she said. “I will always love you….”

The purr grew into the lovely song Tally had heard on that one fateful day, so many years before. Rising slowly above her, the ball began to glow, and so brightly, that she had to close her eyes. One last blinding flash, and when she again sensed the dark and opened them, it was gone.

But, there, in the palm of her hand, was a skyblue marble – a tiny token of love from the Big Blue Ball.



The End
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"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus


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