Small Green Marble

A massive purse sat propped open in her lap as I approached. From the seat beside her she moved a small pack of tissues, two pens, and a broken pencil to make room for me. I took my seat and gasped as something jabbed me in the left buttock.

“I think you forgot this.” I said, handing her the bristled end of a broken hair brush.

“Sorry!” she shook her head apologetically. “I wanted to clean out this old purse on the ride to work and I have thrown things everywhere.”

The bus continued its route while she continued her cleaning. She shuffled through hand-written notes, balled up scraps of paper, and checked and rechecked zippered compartments in the giant purse.

“Well look at this.” she said as she held up a small green marble. “I found it in the yard one day when I left the house and forgot I’d put it in here. My son is grown but he had a set of green marbles he played with all the time. I’m sure it was one of his.”

“You should hold on to it then.” I said. She stared at the marble she held in the air.

“I’m too sentimental as it is.” she said and handed me the marble. “Here, if someone says you’ve lost your marbles, now you have proof you haven’t!” We both laughed and I took the small green marble she pressed into my hand.

“It’s crazy to hold on to it just because it reminds me that my son was a tiny boy.” she stared through the bus window.

“Not really.” I said. “I have boxes of things like that marble”.

She turned around and tossed the last few items back into her purse that had been scattered in her seat as we’d talked. She looked at me expecting, I assumed, to hear what I had in the boxes I’d mentioned.

“You wouldn’t keep something as silly as a marble, would you?” she asked.

“Ohhh yes.” I said as I thought of my sentimental trinkets. “From the time I was a kid I’ve kept a puppy tooth our collie lost, a feather from a quail I hatched in an incubator, and a heart-shaped rock I found in the pasture.”

“I just might keep those too.” she smiled out of courtesy.

On a roll, I continued. “I have the cracker tin my grandmother used in her kitchen, a tiny basket my son carved from a peach pit, and a pocket knife my uncle gave me for helping him one day.”

“I just might keep those too!” she smiled again and seemed to give thought to the relevance of everyday trinkets.

I told her more about various items I have in boxes and drawers, any one of which could look like meaningless trash to others. To me, each has a story.

Who could know the number of times my grandmother’s caring hands opened the cracker tin? The sharp little puppy tooth is a reminder of my collie’s first year as my best friend. The peach pit basket was carved by my son with the help of my father who passed away just over a year ago.

Every tiny silly trinket I keep is accompanied by a wonderful story. All I need to do is pick one up to go back in time for a minute or two. Good reminders of great times. At the mention of each of my keepsakes the woman beside me agreed she just might keep that one too.

I felt I’d bored her with too much nostalgia when I saw her turn away and stare straight ahead. She had a slight smile on her face, though, when she turned to me and pointed at my coat.

One step ahead of her, I had already reached for the small green marble in my pocket. I pressed it into her hand.

“I just might keep that.” she said.

Stuart M. Perkins

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130 Comments

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130 responses to “Small Green Marble

  1. I think that the “found” trinkets might mean even more, like the green marble you found years later. I collect Christmas ornaments, and each has a story.
    Lovely piece. It made me smile.

  2. I keep far too much and this story illustrates that. No thatit is bad to keep mementoes, it is that keeping lots of them is not the norm, these days. People move about more, throwing out as they go, for one reason or another. I am of the old school where, with wartim, you never knew ha you might need. Have been told ‘it is not right, to those, it is all rubbish -can’t tke it with you, kindif thing”. Soon, few will keep anything. But still and all……
    Evelyn

  3. I love your story. Over the years I have saved priceless things with stories attached. Some are in boxes with labeled contents. Some lurk in odd spots where I find them while looking for something else. Recently I needed a key ring. In my rummaging I found two diaper pens with colored plastic heads that were worn by my now fifty-year-old son. Hooked together they make a perfect key ring and a good memory.

    • I know what you mean about priceless mementos and trinkets. Our family has always been in the habit of making scrapbooks, too. My husband is gone now. He passed away 20 years ago this month, but I still keep a scrapbook be started as a young man. Believe it or not, but one of his mementos is a Rose Bowl ticket stub from during the WWII period. The ticket stub is from the only Rose Bowl game not played in Pasadena.

      As you say, today, mementos don’t seem to have the relevance or importance they once had, but I will continue to treasure each and every one of them.

  4. My little green marbles are the notes passed to me by loving parishioners. I picked up the habit from my Mom. After she died, we found a hoard of her marbles (notes) with brief comments by her. A family member has been their custodian for more than thirty-five years. I loved your story. Thanks.

  5. I prefer small mementos too. This is very sweet and really well written and I look forward to reading more of your work. And thank you for stopping by my blog and liking my post! I’m following yours now. 🙂

  6. Great read. I wish I had memorable trinkets but because we were always on the move with each move my mother lost things. And even as an adult, I have moved so much that I have lost very valuable items, ie pictures, stuffed animals, story books. Sometimes I wish I was more stable so that i still had these items that meant so much to me.

    Now I am trying to do things differently and stay on the stable road so that my small children can treasure memories forever.

  7. This story is worth keeping, Stewart, as a reminder of why we our minds like our little physical treasures. Thank you.

  8. Ah! You’ve passed the 100,000 hits mark. I’ve been watching so that I can say, “Wow! and Congrats!” That sure is an amazing accomplishment in so short of a time.

    p.s. You’re my blog-marble. I’m keepin’ you.

  9. I treasure a tiny trinket box from my grandmother. She packed it in with a box of Christmas gifts she mailed December,16, 1964, the day she died. It arrived the day of her funeral.

  10. I had so many and it was hard to let go of them (I moved across the world twice) But some I couldn’t let go of, locks of baby hair and the first lost teeth of my kids. Some of my childhood trinkets now live in Middle child’s collection of trinkets. Makes me happy.

  11. Stuart, thank you so much for following my blog. May the God of creation pour His blessings to the extent that you will become a testimony in the name of Jesus Christ.

  12. Hi Stuart!

    I really enjoyed your story. You are very talented at bring words to life. Good work!

    Also- I am a very sentimental person, I identified with this story well- have trinkets and trinkets of ‘memories’.

  13. Once you have left or lost, all the items you once thought defined you. Only then do you realise, they are only stuff, and the real sentiments are in your mind and your heart. Nicely written, thank you.

  14. livedlearndandloved

    living in the moment!

  15. tylertawin

    Oh that is lovely… Impossible to let go of some things…xx

  16. Small things can make the biggest memories. 🙂

  17. You made her trip worthwhile. You actually added more sentimental value to her marble. Too kind

  18. That story was so touching… now I regret having tossed some of my precious memories!

  19. When it comes to downsizing you take it all out and recall all the memories and put all the items back making your load bigger but you feel you will not be whole if you threw your memories away.

  20. My mother’s home is full of ‘green marbles’ – I know the story behind most of them, but her cleaning lady doesn’t and gives me some strange looks when I say, “No, leave that piece of rock/that shell/that strange piece of wood … it’s precious!”

  21. I loved your story! I am a green marble kind of girl. Not that I horde, but I love keeping little things that remind me of my kids and places we’ve been. These items are their own type of prompt box.

  22. Thank you Mr. Stuart! I loved reading this piece very much. Call me guilty of “keeping that too.” In these times, I find that time doesn’t always allow for my love of reading a nice voluminous literary work. Receiving your shorts are rewarding in that sense, filling a gap I don’t ever wish to close. The quality is what keeps me returning.
    Adriana

  23. thewordspinner

    I think everyone has their own small green marbles. Thanks for reminding me that I need to look over mine and put their stories down.

  24. What an amazing space you have here. Really warm, centered and intelligent prose. I look forward to get some gnawing done over here on a daily basis, comrade.

  25. JKW

    Amazing story. . . I enjoyed it so much because I too have a small box and a small picture scrapbook that I keep a few things of my past. When I am ‘old’ I shall remember .. .. so far the pics have not faded. . .Blessings, Janet

  26. It’s just as good, getting to read these out of order (part 2, then part 1).
    They each stand alone, and yet I was eager to go back and enjoy more of the story.
    That’s the way it is with good writing.

  27. alfredsalmanac

    Wonderful story and very touching.

  28. I like the lyrical way this travels along. It seems light, but the emotions are deeper. And it ends sweetly, as I’d hoped it would.

    Thank you for visiting my site and sharing yours. I’d appreciate feedback on my writings if you can.

  29. Found a couple small green marbles yesterday while walking the dog and thought of this blog. My little girl and I love collecting rocks and flowers and funny-shaped sticks, these marbles were a nice addition to our collection and incentive to read this story again! Love your blog… 🙂

  30. Sue

    Loved this post! It reminded me of something I enjoy doing when I meet new friends. Everyone loses their marbles at one time another so I put together little packets to get those I meet through the rough patches. 😀

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