Barbara Beacham gives yet another fun prompt for flash fiction, a challenge she calls “Mondays Finish The Story.”
Today’s “Finish the Story” begins with: “At first, it looked like an ordinary marble, but it was far from it.”
At first, it looked like an ordinary marble, but it was far from it. It flashed in the sun against the dirt where it had been so carelessly tossed. I was hurrying home on my daily brisk walk to and from Skyline Park. I don’t pass up dropped money, trash, or other shiny things. My friends tease me all the time about that. I left the path to see what it was, and picked it up. I happened to glance up, and about 5 feet away, there was another. They looked like round, polished quartz crystals, but they were almost clear to transparency. The moment I touched them both at the same time, the path and the dirt disappeared and I found myself in a house. Except it wasn’t my house. I dropped the marbles, and the park reappeared. The sensation was bizarre, to say the least. But I hadn’t the slightest bit of labyrinthitis.
Curious, I just touched the marbles with my index and middle finger, to see what would happen. Once again I could see the inside of a house. But I wasn’t able to control my movements. I tried to move my head to look around, and I wasn’t able to move it. I seemed to be moving, but I wasn’t in control of the movement. So I looked around and as I moved, I kept thinking about how I needed to walk the dog. Except, I don’t have a dog. I pulled my fingers back and the dirt and the marble appeared before me once again.
I put the first marble into my pants and scooped up the second marble with a broad, green leaf between my hand and the cool surface. When my fingers reached the second marble in my pocket, the connection did not happen this time, so I reasoned that whatever was happening, I had to be actually touching them both, skin-to-marbles, for it to work.
I absentmindedly put both hands into my pants pockets while walking back home, and once again, was apparently seeing through someone else’s eyes. I was outside, and at the end of a leash in front of me was a lovely collie. I watched as the dog walked, trying to get an idea of where I was, and trying to pay attention to the thoughts that now flooded into my head. My dogs name was B.C., and it looked like any ordinary street. And I was going to be late for work if B.C. didn’t take care of her business soon. At last, she relieved herself and my vessel picked up the droppings into a plastic baggie. And we were headed home, wherever that was. We broke into a run, but I felt no impact as shoe touched pavement. I felt nothing.
At the corner, I noticed the street sign just barely in the person’s peripheral vision. It read “Johnson Farm Road.” I took my hand out of my pocket, and the connection dropped. I decided to look up the street to see if there was one with that name anywhere near my home in Knoxville. With the marbles in my pocket, I walked the rest of the way home. It seemed when I was connected to the marbles, my body froze in place, like when a body is in REM sleep.
Fortunately, my computer found two streets named “Johnson Farm Road,” right in Maynardville. It was only a few miles from here. I decided to wait until my host might be done with work to do more connecting, to try to isolate their actual address. If they turned a corner at Johnson Farm Road, they might live nearby unless they were hiking, which seemed unlikely as they were feeling like they were going to be late for work. I wanted to see if I could find the host person.
As a writer I was self-employed, so I wrote a little bit and had some lunch, with the marbles now in a small dish I kept on my desk. After lunch I wrote some more, and before I knew it, it was 5:30. Hopeful, I grabbed the marbles again.
I was walking the dog again, and we were at the corner. I kept the connection this time, waiting to see the street, and hopeful to determine the address. This time, my mind had very disturbing thoughts running through. My host was depressed and very upset about everything. It took a while to filter through everything. At the same time I watched carefully to see the neighborhood scenery, and street signs whenever possible. I saw the last street sign, and then saw the house number, and searched the internet again just to be certain. To my surprise, it was in Maynardville. I normally would not take a daydream seriously, but the depression my host felt and the desperation, just wouldn’t let me do nothing. I got in my car and drove to the address I had seen, bringing the marbles along as what felt like flimsy justification for bothering someone I had never met.
I rang the doorbell and heard a dog barking. A man came to the door and hushed his dog. He opened it and I asked, “I realize how funny this may sound, but have you lost your marbles?”
“That must be your dog, ‘B.C.’,” I said. I reached in my pocket, careful to touch only one at a time, and returned them. “I’ve had the most interesting day, and I can’t possibly begin to tell you about it in a short time. This is fascinating,” I remarked. “Can I buy you a beer to find out about those things?”
He nodded. “Sure. I’m a bit embarrassed. The whole thing has had me so upset I was almost suicidal. I’m just so happy you found them both, and then found me.”
“What’s ‘B.C.’ stand for?”
He laughed. “Bitch Collie.”
I laughed at that. “What’s a good watering hole here in Maynardsville?” I asked.