An enormous jar of marbles sat perched on a shelf in the depths of the basement closet. In the dark, damp and musty room full of laundry soap and tools, a jar filled with perfectly shaped orbs in riotous colors was held captive in an old Ball jar. She reached in and pulled the jar into a shaft of sunlight pouring through the basement window. She was below ground, sitting on the cool cement floor and enjoying the silence.  One small rectangular ground-level window provided a view of the deep blue summer sky. Outside, the day was filled with heat but the basement was nearly frigid. She held the jar up, using the bright blue sky as a backdrop. The sunlight caused those perfect glass orbs to come alive again. Their color returned.

She marveled that inside of the dusty long forgotten jar, a bit of magic had been caught and held hostage. Inside the jar, the marbles screamed for release. For sunshine. To be held in the hands of a child. To roll across the sidewalk and click against another once again. Inside, under that zinc lid and neglected in the depths of a basement closet, they were captive and forgotten. Possessed but unloved.

She heard her mother’s footsteps on the basement stairs, “Be careful those are Ron’s marbles and they’re very old.” That was enough of a warning. To lose even one of those marbles wasn’t worth his vindictive wrath. Once he possessed something, he made it clear that no one else was entitled to touch what was his. From experience, she knew that children were not immune to his spiteful revenge.

She turned the grimy jar and marveled at the stifled beauty within, “Why are they in this jar in the basement?”  Her question was answered with a shrug and look of confusion, as if her mother couldn’t understand why it mattered. She felt a wave of aversion, realizing that her mother didn’t recognize the disservice of capturing such beauty and hiding it away. She stopped asking questions, knowing she’d never get her point across but also realizing that the marbles were his to keep confined forever. And wasn’t she avoiding just that? She constantly bucked against his masochistic need to dominate what wasn’t his. Including her. She’d given up waiting for her father to rescue her. She realized, at fourteen-years-old, that she must fight her battle alone.

Spellbound by the marbles and his need to control, she spat on her finger and rubbed a circle into the grime of the Ball jar. Through that clean spot, the marbles gleamed. She stood and walked to the washing machine to retrieve a towel and polished the grime-coated jar. Once more, she held the jar against the rectangle of bright blue summer sky and slowly turned it. Inside, the marbles knocked against glass and clicked against one another, begging for release. I can’t help you, she thought, I can’t help myself. She slid the jar back onto the shelf and closed the door on the beauty that shone within.

This is a piece inspired by the photo prompt at The Lightening and The Lightening Bug. It is a memory. I don’t know what became of the jar full of beautiful marbles held captive. I eventually escaped.

Sometimes, it’s good to write about things other than “Mommy”… I am a writer, therefor I write what comes to me. If you enjoy my odd (schizophrenic) mixture of mommy horror stories and creative writing, please deliver a click on the annoying flashing box right down there. If not, click on the box to return to regularly scheduled programming…not really, but you will find oodles of cute mommy blogs, baby gear giveaways and people who really dig coupons.

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  1. I really really LOVED THAT! like the marbles, i too was held captive to the very end! wonderful, you write brilliantly! x

  2. Beautiful, Kelli! The images and feeling of this piece were so powerful…particularly of the sunlight hitting the ball jar, hinting at the true beauty of the marbles inside. I feel so incredibly moved by the thought of you in that lonely basement, a beautiful thing trapped with no escape. I’m so glad you eventually escaped. So thankful that you didn’t let that experience stifle your beauty or your voice.

    I just loved how you were able to relate to the marbles, how moved you felt upon seeing them trapped, trapped as you were. My favorite line: “the stifled beauty within.” Just a gorgeous turn of phrase.

  3. Wonderful! I love how the trapped marbles symbolized her own captivity. And how you described sitting in the basement, the coolness, the window, the blue sky…. I could almost smell the mustiness of a basement while I was reading!

  4. pretty blog! visiting from ftlob hop.

  5. Holy cow…that was beautifully written. I loved the line,”the marbles screamed for release”. I could feel all the emotion in this post…truly it was amazing.

  6. You always paint such a vivid picture, Kelli. I was in that basement with you. I could see that sky. The smells, the muffled sounds. Just perfect.

    So very glad you escaped. Truly!

    Moving, as always…

  7. Beautifully intense; loved it, Kelli.

    And now, all these years later, I’d guess Ron is still in control…of his marbles, at least.

  8. Your symbolism was stunning, Kelli. And, as always, your excellent descriptions come to life! The marbles held up to the rectangle of sky blue actually made me squint; dazzling. I know I’ve said it before, but the fact that you have been through all this stuff and come out the way you did on the other side, makes you a miracle on wheels. You take all the crap that’s been thrown your way and use it for fertilizer to grow incredible stories. ;D And you can quote me on that!

  9. Wow, you really know how to use symbolism in your writing, that is a wonderful craft to have in the toolbox. I love this story of the hidden, the beauty held back and trapped, and then the release and hidden.
    The only thing you may want to consider for revision….length of sentences. Someone told me that this week, so now I seem to be noticing that.
    You really revealed a lot about three characters, one not even present. Great writing!

  10. The fact you escaped and you don’t know about the marbles stuck with me. Very good imagery with the colors and the jar.

  11. A wistful, pretty piece – I especially liked the end.

  12. I remember this one!! Loved it then, and still do.

  13. “She stopped asking questions, knowing she’d never get her point across but also realizing that the marbles were his to keep confined forever. And wasn’t she avoiding just that? She constantly bucked against his masochistic need to dominate what wasn’t his. Including her. She’d given up waiting for her father to rescue her. She realized, at fourteen-years-old, that she must fight her battle alone.”
    This says so much, I know and see and recognize everything around these words.
    I had realizations like this throughout my childhood. I could see the marbles and had questions, but others around me either needed to control them or simply didn’t question the marbles.
    I’m glad you escaped.

  14. your storytelling was awesome here, and so evocative. I could smell the mustiness and see the marbles, and feel the mixture of emotions. Really well done. Thank you for sharing this.

  15. This is incredibly beautiful.

  16. This is still one of my favorite pieces of your’s. Thanks for sharing and reminding me to read it again.

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