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A Small Black Marble in a Sea of Glass

by Rook

Everyone said she was crazy. But she wasn't; she was sensitive. Ok, so she was a little crazy, but wouldn’t you be too, if you could feel the earth rotating and revolving around the Sun? Wouldn't you just be a little loony if you could sense your place moving around an infinite universe?

She thought of the universe as a small, black marble, in a sea of small black marbles. Just one in a million others. “Have you ever walked on a sea of glass in bare feet, with the glass giving way a little bit beneath you?”

I shake my head.

“It feels like water is supporting you, but also like you might fall through any second. That’s how I feel all the time.” She blinks her huge, dark brown eyes at me. She isn't talking about how she stood on the ground, although she could have been. I wouldn’t know. She's talking about her mind. She knows she is almost on the verge of insanity.

She’s a bird that has landed on a small twig that does not support its weight. The bird must choose whether to fall, fly or balance.

Falling would mean certain death.

Flying would mean blissful insanity.

Balancing is remaining grounded to the ‘real world.’

We walk along the sidewalk on our way home from school. The sky is cloudy and I can easily imagine that all the cars will have their wipers swishing back and forth; I will need my umbrella tomorrow. The trees, evenly spaced along the side of the walkway, rustle in the perpetual wind. It is fall and there is a nip in the air; causing us both to shiver. There was a time when I never would have been caught dead with her. All my friends, especially Billy and Albert, hated her for being... the way she was.

I knew she needed my help. I saw her walking home alone every day. She used to walk only a couple feet in front of me, but we never said a word to each other. One day, she was crying. I was alone that day; Billy and Albert were in a soccer game. I walked a little faster, closed the gap between us, and put my arm around her shoulder. She smiled up at me through her tears and told me her story. She had grown up in Brooklyn with her brother, mother and father. Her mother and father were constantly fighting. Her mom threatened to move out, and take her and her brother. Her father said he didn't care. Her mother moved here, and they all loved it here. Then she got sick with scarlet fever; her family was poor and she had never gotten the immunization. She almost died. She was never quite the same, after that. She told me this story through tears again, and said that she had never had a friend, and that her mom and brother were fighting now. She didn't know what to do. I vowed to be a friend, someone she could count on, and she embraced me.

When I became friends with her, there was much muttering and side glances directed our way. I became better friends and the mutterings became full-out rumor and finally widely-accepted fact. But I didn't care. Even if I was a boy, even if I used to be popular, I feel much more fulfilled by listening to her ramblings. But they are intelligent ramblings, even if they all seem crazy. Heck with Billy and Albert.

“There is no reality,” she whispers to me, “Only illusion. We only see one stream of all the possibilities. Possibilities that are happening right now.” She smiles a radiant smile, but I don’t understand.

“Let’s say the someone poisoned your breakfast this morning and you die today. In another reality, you would have skipped breakfast. In that reality, you are still alive. There are infinite realities all happening right now. In a lot of them, you are already dead. In most of them, you were never even born.”


“So what we see isn’t really what we see. We fit it to shape it to our reality. It’s how we are comfortable with envisioning the world. Let's take the color red for example. Envision that color. Now what if when someone else, say me, looks at a rose the color that you are imagining, I call it red too, but I see a color which you would call, blue. We were both taught that red is that color. We were both taught that it’s the color of hearts, and roses. When I look at a red rose, I call it red. Let’s say you were able to step into me somehow. You might look through my eyes and see the color that you would call blue. Do you understand? Maybe we all have the same favorite color, we just call it different names.”

In truth, I really don’t get it, but I nod my head after a moment to make her feel like she’s getting through to someone.

She smiles, relieved.

Such a delicate little bird...

I try to be the twig that keeps her grounded, for in truth, she keeps me grounded. She expands my mind.

“Have you ever closed your eyes and walked on a sea of glass in bare feet, with the glass giving way a little bit beneath you? Have you ever smelled a rose so perfect that it made you want to surround yourself with roses and never move, but just sit and breathe? It’s not happiness that you want, for happiness will always end. The glamor always fades. It’s peace that you want. Peace with yourself and the world around you. Peace is true bliss. Why do you feel almost happy when you hear that someone who was troubled died peacefully? It’s because that’s what your soul craves for.”

My soul craves for peace.

“The soul… they say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. My eyes are so dark. It looks as if my pupil is so large that I have no iris. My iris is black. Like… a marble. A small black marble in a sea of glass.” She looks up, as if searching the overcast heavens for a small black marble. “Have you ever felt the Earth turn beneath you?”


She just shakes her head and leaves me to go home to her near-destroyed family. She steps as lightly and delicately as air, off the sidewalk and onto the soft green grass that surrounds her light gray house. Her house is lined with red, (or maybe blue?) roses. I continue on to my house, a couple blocks down. I do not even deign to glance at Billy's house or Albert's apartment complex. When I reach my own home, I flop down on my blue-sheeted mattress and stare at the cracks on my ceiling. I worry for her, just as I do every time I leave her. I’m worried that the delicate little bird will fall or fly before I see her again.

But the next day, as I pass her little house, she comes skipping up her front walk, her dark hair flying behind her, her feet barely touching the ground. I am relieved. The bird has not fallen. The bird has not flown. At least not yet. We walk for a little way in the pouring rain before she asks again, “have you ever felt the earth turn beneath you?”

“No," I say, holding my umbrella over both of us. We take care not to step in a large puddle that has collected at the bottom of a pothole in the sidewalk.

“Most people think that the Earth’s rotation is the passage of time. But there is no time; time is irrelevant. Most people view it as a marble floating on a narrow stream. The marble is what’s happening right now. But they're wrong. Time is a sea of marbles. All moments in time are happening now. In fact, there is no now. ‘Now’ is only a reality created by our consciousness. I’m not saying that our lives are predestined. Our choices narrow our infinite reality and narrow it. But it is always infinite. Time all happens at once. Your birth, your life, your death, is all happening right now. If ‘now’ is a concept you can grasp.”

I could grasp ‘now,’ but I didn’t understand how time could all happen at once. But I nod, and wait for more. I gain so much from these talks I have with her every day to school. I let her talk, because I feel like I know nothing compared to her.

“I can see in your eyes that you don’t understand. It’s a hard thing, to read eyes. What it takes, is supreme empathy. Love and understanding for your fellow man. Take those boys for example.” She gestures to two boys hanging around a fire hydrant. The second I see their faces, my heart drops. They are Billy and Albert, her personal tormentors. They are watching us, and appear surprised when we both look at them simultaneously. Billy murmurs something to Albert and they both stalk over.

“Well what do we have here?” Billy said, “Did you join the cult of the crazy? Why do you talk to her every day? She’s possessed by demons!” He holds out the ‘s’ on the last word, turning as he does it to face her. He spits at her foot, and then turns on his heel to saunter back to whatever hole he came from. Albert gives a menacing glance as well, but to me. He mouths the word, " traitor," and follows Billy.

“As I was saying,” she said looking completely unflustered, “take those boys over there, they say cruel things about me to anyone who will listen, and at every opportunity. But still, I feel empathy for them. They are trying to feel better about themselves by picking on others. I forgive them, even if they aren’t sorry. Yes, I’ll forgive anyone, but will they forgive themselves?” She looks troubled. Unlike her, I am withering on the inside. How dare they treat her like that? I am ashamed but I'm also full of vengeance. She places a delicate hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye, and give her head a slight shake. "You must forgive them too. It is for the best." I look at her, and feel the hot temper in me extinguish a soon as it flared up. We walk the rest of the way to school in silence. I notice a bird on a branch, and watch to see what it does. It does nothing for a while, but soon it is joined by other birds. My soul rejoices within me.

When we come within sight of the school, I see a reflection in a passing car of Billy and Albert sulking behind us. I turn and give them a wave and a genuine smile. They look startled, but Albert gives a small wave back.

When we reach the school, we must go our separate ways.

“Have you ever felt the Earth turn beneath you?” She asks, one last time.

“No, but I hope to.”

She laughs. “Oh no you don’t. It makes you very dizzy.”

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User avatar
116 Reviews

Points: 5240
Reviews: 116

Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:13 am
RoseTulipLily wrote a review...

Clearly, I'm joining the party very late regarding this story, but I still wanted to review this.

Wow. I was instantly hooked from the first few sentences. From the way you described the narrator's interactions with the other character, I couldn't help but imagine myself in that position. It just felt that realistic to me. Again, I know this is a few years old and this comment probably does not mean much, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this story ;)

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15 Reviews

Points: 411
Reviews: 15

Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:25 pm
wildwildcat wrote a review...

I find it wonderful that your story was able to win some distinction.
As a whole, I loved your plot, and the characters are people whom I can relate to, as well as the thoughts and progressions.
The things that the girl says, are very neat, and make you think about the world as a speck, and you an even tinier speck.
Your narration is almost sparse in how you mention, not everything we want to know, but everything we need to know. Names, unless for identification, are irrelevant. Plot and pasts, unless related to the present are unneeded.
It's not minimalism, but the style makes it very easy to concentrate on the relationship between the two characters, as well as the dialogue.
Also, the ending line is quite good. It's lightly humorous, but demonstrates the tension that underlies the whole story.

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378 Reviews

Points: 3775
Reviews: 378

Sun May 26, 2013 5:10 am
Omni wrote a review...

Hey, fortis, here to review!

My name is Aquestioning, and I'll be reviewing this piece for you just for Review Day! *Shocked face* I know! Who would've guessed that you'd get a review for Review Day? Enough babble, time to get to the review!

Everyone said she was crazy. But she wasn't; she was sensitive.

So, you could have put this together as one sentence, especially seeing as the "But she wasn't" is now a fragment. However, nice beginning. It's important to have an eye catcher for your beginning, to grasp your attention. This beginning sentence, although short, certainly did serve its purpose. I am now intrigued.

She’s a bird that has landed on a small twig that does not support its weight.

Very nice imagery going on here. I like how you went into further detail about it instead of just keeping it as a metaphor that a lot of people might not understand. I don't think you could have done better at this part.

It is fall and there is a nip in the air; causing us both to shiver.

That should have been a comma separating those two. Making it a semi-colon just caused the second half to be fragmented. Semi-colons are hard to use and difficult to understand. I admire your bravery for using so many in this story.

She was never quite the same, after that.

That comma shouldn't be there.

Such a delicate little bird...

Nice! I think that is just the perfect touch ending that whole color thing, which was great, too! I am liking this more and more!

I had hoped that you would have ended the story on the birds, but nevertheless, this is great, with only a few problems at the beginning. It is great and a story that I would recommend to anyone!

Hope this helped,

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189 Reviews

Points: 398
Reviews: 189

Tue May 21, 2013 10:09 am
manisha wrote a review...

Hi fortis!

I absolutely loved the story! Really, totally awesome!

[quote] She’s a bird that has landed on a small twig that does not support its weight. The bird must choose whether to fall, fly or balance.

Falling would mean certain death.

Flying would mean blissful insanity.

Balancing is remaining grounded to the ‘real world.’[\quote]
I like this relation. You have used it throughout the story which not only helps the flow but the overall effect.
In the stories I've read where the writer tries to portray strangeness in a person they just say it. Here I can see the effort you have put into the character which is really good.
I do not understand what you meant by sea of glass. Did you mean a large stretch of glass?
I've always wondered about colors the way you have said it here, so I really really like that part too.
[quote] I became better friends and the mutterings became full-out rumor and finally widely-accepted fact[\quote]
the sentence sounded odd to me.
Maybe, I became better friends with her?
[quote] Our choices narrow our infinite reality and narrow it.[\quote]
Is "and narrow it" meant to be there?
There are few typos here and there which can be easily edited after a read.

Overall, I really liked this!

Keep writing!


Rook says...

Thank you for your review! The part with the sea of glass I put in there to show that all though most of what she says makes sense if you think about it, it's obvious that what she sees in her metaphysical (I don't know if that's the right word to use there) mind could only be interpreted if you had lived her life and made her comparisons.
I found that "mutterings" sentence awkward too. I just don't know how to fix it to convey exactly what I wanted to say.
Thanks again for reviewing!

"I think; therefore, I am."
— René Descartes