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Ben Miyares

Grade: 8

Birchwood School

Instructor(s): Maysan Haydar, Lorraine Tzeng

A Journey of A Thousand Miles

Short Story

A Journey of A Thousand Miles

The automated process was about to begin. The molten glass came gushing out of the pipe, into the tank, and then it got hot. The glass, sand, and soda-lime melted together, and the resulting alloy came out of the flow tank, chopped by the automated process, then it rolled down the metal slide which perfected its spherical shape. After cooling down, the magnesium-infused ball of glass rolled onto a new tray, the purple cloudiness making it hard, but not impossible, to see through. Workers checked for defects. It then rolled down another ramp, into a bin where it was buried in a box along with several other marbles. The box was taped and shipped off along with several other boxes.

When they eventually reached their destination, two of the boxes were lifted out and taken into a room where they were opened and sorted into bags, each containing sixteen. The marble was picked out, along with fifteen others, and placed into a pouch. There they sat, within the confines of the burlap pouch, waiting for a searching soul to pick them up and take them away. But no one came. Their now bleak existence consisted of seeing others taken, played with, or used. But then it happened. The prices suddenly dropped and more and more pouches were sold. Traffic picked up, and one day, the sack was taken. By a boy.

The game began to intensify, the marbles clashing against one another with such ferocity it made the game a real, competitive one. As it neared an end, an older boy beginning to dominate the circle with his cat's eyes, the boy's pouch fell from his hand, spilling marbles all over the area. The loud clashings of the marbles meeting the concrete sliced through the air, and then they began to roll, toward the apron of the driveway.

Immediately the boy who had dropped the marbles got up to try and stop them. His efforts were in vain. The purple marbles gained momentum and were flung into the street. The boy quickened his pace, picking up a few at a time. Finally, believing the marbles' excursion had finally ground to a halt, he walked back to the circle of boys, where a different boy was taking hold of the playing field. Unbeknownst to him, however, one of his precious marbles escaped underneath a leaf into the storm grate.

It hit the running water with a short plop and, captured by the flow, began to move quickly. The water's pace quickened as it gradually angled downward. The marble stuck out among the brown sludge, its silky smooth surface deflecting the liquid. After many minutes in this dark, dank tunnel, a grate appeared at the end, letting in blinding flashes of light. The marble was thrust out, bounced off some protruding rocks, and finally landed in a creek.

The murky water surrounded it, always sucking it deeper inward until some rock bumped it back out. The stream was moving gradually downward, heading to the placid Lake Michigan. It made its way with the same sludge it had traveled with this far. Finally, it reached the end. The creek created from the run-off of the wastewater flowed directly into the lake. The marble landed with a plop. It stayed there until a mid-July storm picked it up on the choppy waves, flinging it southbound.

The sun set over Chicago that night, the sky still yellow from the day's thunderstorm. Trash covered the shoreline, as it always did after a storm of such ferocity. In the suburb of Evanston, there was an apartment complex that housed a family. Every morning in the summer, after the mother and father left on the "L" heading for the city, their two children, Max and Charlotte, went to the beach. Today was no different. Charlotte began scooping up sand in a plastic pail, hardening it, packing it down, until it was ready to be turned over to make the first tower. Then she took a second, and a third, and a fourth. By this time, her castle was starting to take shape. And then it happened, the gods of Chance were surely at work. She scooped up a fifth pail, and there, nestled on the top, was the marble, the magnesium-infused ball of glass, just sitting there. She picked it out, slipped it in her bag, and continued. A sixth and seventh pail gave the final form.

Around noon they left, Charlotte still holding the bag with the marble inside. That night, she took it out, cleaned it off, and set it in the drawer of her nightstand. Unfortunately for her, Max had watched this play out, and the next morning, he took it. He knew there was a big marble business among his friends, and he knew what he could get for it. Rather than going to the beach, he slipped away, under the pretext of using the bathroom. He didn't come back for a while, not until he was able to reach his friend and trade the marble for a pack of baseball cards. Once again, the marble was cursed by the fell clutches of circumstance, all of its owners had failed to keep it for long, being swept one way or another.

The friend was not going to be much of a good owner either, although he had good intentions for the marble. They never seem to last long. He was no different than the rest, just as unconscientious and negligent. He added the marble to his collection, a glass mason jar that sat on top of his desk. Within this mason jar were several different colors of marbles, blues, greens, reds, yellows, but no purples. The marble made all the difference, the last marble that could fit in the jar, certainly the last marble that would fit in the jar.

Because his parents moved frequently, this particular friend, who had recently moved to Chicago along with his marble collection, was moving again. This time, however, it was a downgrade. A smaller apartment meant less living space, which meant no more "useless" collections.

A garage sale would be a perfect way to get rid of junk and make a couple of bucks. So it happened. Two weeks later, signs were posted, permission had been given, and tables were set up. It was here that the next, and regretfully the last, section of our story begins.

This garage sale brought many passers-by until the stock began dwindling. The jar of marbles was not a very hot item, however. It was only $10, but no one wanted it. That was until a man came by. He saw the jar of marbles and knew he had to buy it. The jar of marbles went to his office to be incorporated into statues. The purple marble became the eye of a gargoyle. From his studio, the statue was sold to a corporate headquarters downtown, positioned in a board meeting room on the 11th floor. From its stand next to the window, all of Chicago was visible. It was surrounded by many lavish things, a grand entranceway, a suit of armor, and another purple-eyed gargoyle. It stayed in the gargoyle's eye socket, forever and ever.