The names said it all for those marbles. Flames, patches, and corkscrews. Limey’s, lemonades, and root beers. Aggies, cat’s eyes, and slags. Beautiful glass orbs you could hold in the palm of your hand. Oh, man, were they ever cool!
The friends played for hours during the summer, whiling away their free time with no school to worry about. Just having fun. In tee shirts, cut-off blue jeans, and red ball Jets, they’d kneel on the blacktop of the playground with a white string marking the circle.
The game was called Playing for Keeps. It had it all: the thrill of winning, the agony of losing. The whole world riding on the flick of a thumb and the practiced, measured eye of the boy doing the shooting. Marbles lost one day would be won back the next. Friendships teetered on how well their best friend could shoot.
He collects them now, those old marbles from his youth. He displays them so he can look at them whenever he wants. He still loves the beautiful colors, as brilliant as ever. Same with the memories, still so vivid.
It’s almost as good as being there, he thinks to himself, holding a rare purple Popeye in his hand.
He sits back and closes his eyes, imagining playing a hot game with his friends. Kneeling close together, shoulder to shoulder under the hot summer sun. Taking his time while his friends hoot and holler. He’s not listening. Instead, he’s holding his prized white shooter with yellow swirls, the best marble he ever had. He’s using it to line up his shot, trying different angles. Finally, he’s ready. He settles himself and steadies his hand. He takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. His gang of friends goes silent. He smiles. He’s young once again, playing for keeps. Man, it feels so good.
He lets his shooter fly.
DEC 2019 / DEC 2022 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared online in CafeLit, The Writers' Cafe Magazine, Cabinet of Heed, Paragraph Planet, Nailpolish Stories, Ariel Chart, Potato Soup Journal, Literary Yard, Spillwords, The Drabble and World of Myth Magazine, and in print publications: A Million Ways, Mused Literary Journal, Gleam Flash Fiction Anthology #2, The Best of CafeLit8, Nativity Anthology by Bridge House Publishing and Gold Dust Magazine. You can also check out his blog - theviewfromlonglake at WordPress.