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The Story of the Magic Marble

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The Story ofthe Magic Marble


-1-When I was five years old, my parents were the landlords of an apartmentcomplex in South Florida.
This meant our family made an excessive number of trips to the local hardware store. My parents brought me along, always the begrudging participant. On one occasion, I wandered off to the garden section hoping to encounter something a bit more exciting, like a lemon tree, some river rocks, or better yet — a snail! I made sure my parents were distracted by a store associate discussing sheets of lumber before making my escape.
I wandered through the aisle of fruit trees and found one with some lemons. I had recently learned in school that trees are a part of nature, and nature belongs to all of us. Naturally, I plucked a few lemons and into my pocket they went. I was in the midst of self-justifying my harvest when I noticed I wasn’t alone. Nearby, atop a stack of several bags of mulch, sat a wispy grey cat. Like most kindergarteners, I was certain this creature would become my best friend. So, I started towards her earnestly, gently, and in the brand of silence only possessed by young children.


-2-“‘HI, KITTYCAT!’ I screamed as I charged towards her. Like most rational cats, in a flash of fur she bolted away from the small human now in hot pursuit. I followed her until she eventually led me into the fountain section where she decided she had had enough and ended the chase. I’m sure she thought no creature would be foolish enough to approach all of those tubs of water and risk getting themselves wet. I, however, read this as a welcome. Trying to impress my new friend with feline-like agility, I began to climb onto the nearest fountain ledge. She yawned. Before I knew it, she leapt onto the next fountain, promptly vanishing into the darkness between the nearby stacks of flower pots.
My heart sank. I pondered what reasons she could possibly have to run away when I had made clear I was trying to be friends. Maybe she didn’t speak English and I should have meowed at her instead. I was developing a new strategy for my next cat encounter as I looked down into the water of the fountain. The overhead lights twinkled across the surface of the coins at the bottom like a school of copper fish. I followed them as they swam, twisting and turning, until my eyes fell upon something unusual. A small orb sat between the coins at the very center of the fountain floor.


-3-An ominous sound broke the enchantment of this new discovery, a sound children everywhere can identify from miles away- the thunderous footsteps of an angry parent. Mom!

It was time for action! I hastily decided to stretch myself across the top of the fountain, 
one hand on the ledge and my legs splayed for balance like a flying squirrel so I could lower my free hand into the water and retrieve the orb. I’d grab it, slip it into my pocket along with the tiny lemons I’d collected, and then make a swift run back towards my mom.

How could this plan possibly go wrong?

Well, here’s how: flying squirrels are graceful creatures who defy gravity regularly. I, on the other hand, slipped on the ledge to sink like a bag of pennies into the water with the rest of the coins. My mother’s voice broke through the commotion. I felt around for the orb and with one quick grab, climbed out of the fountain as coolly as a drenched five year old could. One might even say with dignity and…grace. I approached my mother, blinking the water out of my eyes only to realize both of my parents were now staring at me incredulously.


-4-Did I get in trouble for wandering off by myself only to be discovered soaking wet in a fountain? Naturally! Was it all worth it if it meant having the orb safely, secretly, in my pocket? You'd better believe it.

Later that evening, I inspected my hard-earned prize in closer detail under the covers using 
a small flash light I had found in the tool box my father said I wasn’t supposed to open. The orb turned out to be an iridescent marble. As the flashlight shown through it, an infinity of blue arrows seemed to scatter in every direction from its core. It was filled with tiny bubbles, each a perfect orb in its own right. This was clearly a magic marble.

In the weeks that passed, I frequently held it up to the light and imagined it allowed me to 
share its special powers. One day, while I was creating a new story involving the magic marble, my sister caught me holding it up to the sun. She asked me where it came from and after some nervous laughter and uncomfortable shifting, I was eventually forced to tell her all about fountain climbing with the cat, the lemon heist, and the marble. Being my older (she was eight years old) and wiser sister, she first informed me with absolute authority that I should not have taken the lemons or the marble.


-5-I listened to this theory and glued my eyes to the floor; as long as she didn’t tell our parents, this would all end well.

“Do you know what you have in your hand there?” she asked. 
“That’s someone’s wish!” She went on to posit “it must have been an important wish or they would have just used a penny.”

Someone’s wish? She told me all about the act of throwing objects into the water to make 
a wish come true. Initially, I couldn’t believe someone threw this amazing marble into the water and left it there…on purpose. Of course, who was I to doubt the sage wisdom of my elders? I listened intently, quickly nodding my apologies and promised I would never take lemons or remove anything from a fountain ever again (with my fingers crossed behind my back). 
I was playing with the marble a few days later when I began thinking more about wishes. What would I wish for? A flurry of ideas came to mind effortlessly. 


-6-First, a list of several popular toys, obviously beginning with a Teddy Ruxpin. I’d wish for children at school to be nicer and stop making fun of my terrible haircut. I had recently lost my dear goldfish - I’d wish to have her back. Money. I’d wish for my parents to have more money so my mother wouldn’t have to work at night and my father wouldn’t have to see Mrs. K, his mean boss. Wishes, I realized, were very important.  
I started to comprehend the significance of what I had been carrying around so casually until that moment. I didn’t know the one who made this wish. I couldn’t see them, but I now held a bit of their hope in the palm of my little hand. Whoever they were, they were real and the marble was proof. It was no toy. Something lived within it, beyond itself. A powerful magic that forever joined me to another person. I was now the guardian of their wish
As the years passed, the marble became a metaphor for the connection between all living beings. More than an orb, it was a symbol of the force inside all of us that discerns the feelings and hopes of another. As I grew older, I learned there is a single word for this intangible, infinite force.
Empathy.