Mary Alice’s mommy had a birthday coming up.
“Right round the corner,” like Mary Alice’s Grandpa used to say every winter about her own birthday, up until she was four, even though she never actually saw it there, or round any corner for that matter. She wondered if maybe you needed to be bigger, like Grandpa, to see round the corners, cause sometimes there was other stuff “right round the corner” too.
Mary Alice was almost five and half now and missed her Grandpa who went to heaven to be with Grandma, who she didn’t really remember much at all. Not long before Grandpa went to heaven, he gave Mary Alice her favorite doll. “Her name is Ms. Murple, just like purple, but without the pee, cause she comes with a “no pee” guarantee!” he said with a big silly smile, which made her giggle out loud. Mary Alice always laughed and giggled when Grandpa said silly things; things that had nothing to do with anything, especially while all the hollering was going on, when it was hard to laugh and giggle, after Daddy came home from work; that is, when there was work to come home from, which sometimes there wasn’t because of the “baconomy”.
Mary Alice knew “dimesurtuff”, and “munystite” because that’s what her daddy always said, even though she wasn’t really sure what that meant.
But, “baconomy” or not, Mary Alice’s mommy had a birthday coming up, and Mary Alice wanted to get her mommy something special so she could find her happy, specially when Daddy was home, when mommy seemed to sleep a lot in her room. Daddy said these days the only time mommy ever found her happy was when she was on that “GD KPUTER, talking to that GD ghost”.
Mary Alice found that strange since ghosts were scary, and scary and happy didn’t seem to go together. And mommy never talked on the GD kputer like when she talked on the phone to her “best” friend Maise, or whispered like she did a lot when she was on the phone with her “best” friend Maise. No, instead mommy clicked the buttons on the “keybird” real fast, and giggled and got red in the face a lot. Mary Alice figured that all that clicking was hard work, and that’s why mommy’s face got red, but mommy almost always smiled while she clicked, except for sometimes when she would blow the bangs up on her forehead, and sometimes when she rubbed her eyes in a way that Mary Alice couldn’t see.
Mary Alice didn’t think too much about this whole ghost thing, but it occurred to her one day, while she was playing with Ms. Murple, that ghosts live in heaven, where Grandpa and Grandma were, and so maybe mommy was talking to one of them. Then she thought that maybe heaven was in the gd kputer, but Ms. Murple disagreed and said that was a silly idea, since everyone knew that heaven was up in the sky.
Mary Alice thought about this a bit, then agreed that Ms. Murple was right. “Maybe the gd kputer was just a kind of heaven phone where you didn’t really need to talk, especially if you were a ghost”.
And that explained a lot of things.
“No wonder mommy is happy. She’s talking to grandpa, and Grandpa is making her laugh!”
This made Mary Alice happy since she thought that someday, when she learned how to use the keybird, she could talk to Grandpa too.
But Mary Alice’s happy face turned into her sad face when she suddenly remembered the time Daddy came home after forgetting where he left his job, and saw mommy talking to the ghost, who may have been grandpa, but maybe it wasn’t. Cause , daddy got real mad when he looked at what was on the little TV and got his own red face and started saying lots of words that Mary Alice only heard when daddy or mommy started the hollering. She thought it might have been something called French, since sometimes Grandpa used to use some of those words and say to “pardon his French”.
Mommy got all stiff and clumsy when daddy started hollering and knocked over her tea when she reached up real fast to turn off the little TV. Then she started saying lots of French things too and ran up to her room and slammed the door.
That’s when her Daddy saw Mary Alice sitting in the corner sipping her own tea with Ms. Murple, pretending not to notice all the French.
“I’m sorry, M-A,” her daddy said, which is what he called her when he wanted to show her that he wasn’t really mad, at her, or anything else, even though he usually was.
Mary Alice just put down her tea cup and offered Ms. Murple a cookie, which she knew Ms. Murple never refused.
“I think your mommy may have lost her marbles”, Daddy said. “And she hasn’t been herself since.”
And that’s when Mary Alice closed the door on that sad memory and her happy face returned.
“That’s what I can do special for Mommy’s birthday—I can find her marbles!”
Ms. Murple thought that was a wonderful idea, and tried to take the credit, the way Ms. Murple always tried to take the credit for all her wonderful ideas.
Mary Alice just ignored Ms.Murple, having learned long ago that there was no use arguing with her, and said, “Then mommy will be “herself” again, and maybe daddy will stop hollering, and then mommy will stop hollering, and then maybe we can all go to the movies again like when we used to when I was little.”
Ms. Murple agreed and said she knew just where they could look, and Mary Alice knew exactly what she meant.
Squeezing Ms. Murple tightly in her arms, Mary Alice closed her eyes and wished herself to the special place that Grandpa told her about a long, long time ago. He called it her special maginary place where she could go and see whatever she wanted to see and do just about anything that she wanted to do. And finding Mommy’s marbles was what she wanted to do.
When Mary Alice opened her eyes, she was sitting in a small little village, with lots of small little shops lining the small little streets that made up the small little square.
“My, this is a small little town,” Ms. Murple said. She was already wandering up to the open door of a shop called ‘Lost Socks’.
Mary Alice had forgotten how Ms. Murple became more like a person and less like a doll in the maginary. In the maginary, Ms. Murple could walk and talk… and maybe even pee.
“Ms. Murple, We didn’t come here to find socks we—“
Ms. Murple turned and pointed at another store called ‘Lost Barbie Shoes’. “Okay, then how about we go in there? We never did find those pretty sliver ballerina slippers.”
“No, Ms. Murple, we don’t care about Barbie shoes today. Today we came to find mommy’s marbles!”
Ms. Murple was bewildered. The maginary sometimes did that to her. “We don’t care about Barbie shoes? Oh my…but we always—“
“Look!” Mary Alice shouted. “Look, look, lookie there!”
“Look, look, lookie where?” Ms. Murple said, then gasped when she saw a big tall store with a big tall door and a big tall sign that shouted ‘Lost Marbles!’
“I knew we’d find them here!” Mary Alice shouted. “I just knew it!”
And with that she ran towards the big tall store and through the big tall door under the big tall sign that shouted ‘Lost Marbles!’
Ms. Murple, still somewhat bewildered, fluffed out her dress and hurried to catch up. She entered the big tall store and gasped once more. It was filled with marble after marble, from ceiling to floor. Marbles of every color and every size, in jars and boxes, sitting on shelves, attached to light blue walls and behind shiny glass cases, set on shiny red floors.
“No wonder the store is so tall,” Ms. Murple said to Mary Alice, who stood frozen with awe. “What a marvelous place.”
“Actually, I like to call it a ‘Marbleous place’, said a funny little voice from behind.
Mary Alice and Ms. Murple spun where they stood and found the funny little voice belonged to a funny little man wearing funny little sleeves over his funny little shirt. He had a kind of funny little cap, without a top, pulled over his funny little head, which was brimmed with funny little tufts of clean white hair that circled his entire funny little head, and the funny little area, just below his funny little nose, which wiggled when the funny little man said, “And how can I help you Marbleous young ladies on this Marbleous day?”
Mary Alice was speechless. She’d never seen another person in the maginary before and didn’t know what to say to this funny little man.
Ms. Murple nudged her, hoping to coax out a word or two, then nudged her again, when none appeared.
Deciding that Mary Alice needed more than a nudge, Ms. Murple stepped forward, fluffed out her dress again and said, “My, aren’t you the funniest little man?”
Ms. Murple’s very rude remark broke Mary Alice from her spell of shyness and she promptly gave Ms. Murple a nudge of her own.
The funny little man just smiled and laughed, “Well what kind of a funny little man would I be if I were anything else?”
Relieved, Mary Alice stepped forward and said, “Yes, it is a Marbleous day and this really is a Marbleous place. I’m Mary Alice, and this is my doll, Ms. Murple.”
“Ahem…favorite doll,” Ms. Murple corrected.
“Well of course you are,” the funny little man said. “Who else would you be?”
“And we’re here to find my Mommy’s marbles, so I can give them back to her for her birthday and she can be herself again.”
“Well of course you are,” the funny little man said again. “Why else would you be here?”
Ms. Murple rolled her eyes, thinking that this funny little man was in need of a few of his own lost marbles, no doubt buried under a mountain somewhere in this very store.
The funny little man slid behind one of the shiny, marble filled cases and twirled the funny little tuft of white beneath his nose. “But why, may I ask, do you think your mommy’s not herself, let alone marble-less, which is far from marbleous?”
“Cause Daddy said so.” Mary Alice replied.
“Ahhhh,” the man said. “And what does your mommy say about all of this concern about marbles missing or presumed?”
“I don’t know about her presumes,” Mary Alice answered. “But daddy says mommy doesn’t know where her marbles are, so I want to find them and give them back for her birthday.”
“Ahhhh” the man repeated. “But sometimes it’s not a matter of marbles being lost as much a matter as marbles being rearranged…rearranged in a way that Daddy’s don’t always like. And visee-versee.”
“Visee who” Ms. Murple sputtered in confusion. “We’re looking for marbles, not visee, let alone versee!”
Mary Alice became restless from all this silly talk so she began to spin herself around the room, round and round, just like a top, pointing at all the marbles that were everywhere to be found.
“Do you mean with all these marbles I can’t find my mommy’s marbles…here, there or anywhere?”
“I mean, your mommy’s marbles may not be missing at all, little girl, and please. stop that spinning…you’re making me dizzy. You’re mommy’s marbles may indeed be right where they belong. Perhaps all that’s needed is a little polish and shine.”
“Polish and shine?”
The funny little man became quite excited and began clicking the keybird of his own kputer “Yes, yes. Just a small little boost might be all that’s required.”
“Now he’s talking about boots!” shouted Ms. Murple. “MARBLES...NOT BOOTS!”
Mary Alice was just as confused as Ms. Murple, but wanted to know what the funny little man was talking about so she turned to Ms. Murple and told her to shush by zipping across her mouth. Clearly insulted, Ms. Murple threw up her arms and walked off in a huff to inspect an interesting basket of rainbow colored marbles.
The funny little man continued his keybird clicking and asked Mary Alice, “Can you please give me your mommy’s name.”
“Mommy.” Mary Alice answered, confidently.
“I’m afraid I’m going to need a bit more information than that, young lady. I need to know your mommy’s full name.”
“Uhm…” Mary Alice pondered this for a second, then brightened and said “My Mommy!”
“Marbleous, Marbleous.” The man replied. “And the place where she lives?”
“In our house…?” Mary Alice answered, somewhat less confidently.
The funny little man peered over at Mary Alice.
“On our street!”
Again, the man replied, “Marbleous, Marbleous. Ah yes, here she is. Mary Alice’s Mommy, residing in your house, on your street. “Marbleous, Marbleous.”
Mary Alice smiled as big a smile as she could possibly smile. “What does it say, what does it say?”
Hearing all the excitement, Ms. Murple rushed back from her marble inspections. “What does what say?”
The funny little man scanned the little flickering screen and muttered, “Hmmmmmmm.”
“Hmmmmm?” Mary Alice squirmed with curiosity.
“Yes, Hmmmmm what? Ms. Murple demanded, more with impatience than curiosity.
“Just as I suspected,” the man said. “You’re mommy hasn’t lost her marbles at all. They’re merely in the process of rearrangement and prioritizing.
“Pie-n-tizing?” Mary Alice asked.
“Yes…prioritizing means sorting through all the marbles she’s collected through the years and deciding which ones are still important and which ones are not. Which ones to move up front and which ones to the back…even which ones need to be removed. It’s very common in grownups, from time to time.
“Yes,” Ms. Murple agreed. “Grownups can be an odd bunch at times.”
“Well”, the man said. “Being a grownup can also be quite complicated at times. But, admittedly grownups can also complicate their own times as well. Sometimes they sort and sort and discard so many marbles that before they know it, they do lose waaaay too many, if not all their marbles.”
Mary Alice’s excitement disappeared, replaced with worry and concern for her mommy.
“Does that happen a lot?”
The funny little man simply raised his arms and swept them around the room, pointing out the millions of lost marbles that surrounded them.
Mary Alice scanned the Marbleous room and whispered, “Am I one of mommy’s marbles?”
“Why, but of course…in fact you comprise a great number of your mommy’s marbles. Some of the most important ones”
“But what if mommy throws out my marbles?”
“Oh, not to worry. Mommies almost never lose their special marbles.”
Mary Alice considered this, then said, “But Daddy said mommy’s not herself any more. What if she doesn’t recognize my marbles?”
“Well, sometimes daddies make mistakes or are just sorting through their own mixed up marbles,” the man said. “So not to worry, not to worry.”
“Yikes…I’ve never been so happy to be a doll,” Ms. Murple said as she hugged Mary Alice.
Mary Alice hugged Ms. Murple back and said, “You mean a favorite doll!”
“And not to fret about going back marble-less, which, of course, is far from Marbleous,” the funny little man said as he fumbled through a cluttered box and took out a little yellow box, and tied a pretty red bow on it. “If you really want to give your mommy a special Birthday present, I have just the thing for marble sorting mommies.”
“Really?” Mary Alice stepped toward the shiny glassy counter. “What’s that?”
“A Marbleous box of hugs…guaranteed to put a shine on all the marbles that are most important, guaranteeing that your mommy will always keep them safe.”
“Like the marbles that are me?” Mary Alice asked.
“Exactly!” the man said, and handed the little yellow box with the pretty red bow to Mary Alice. “Marbleous, Marbleous. So close your eyes and off you go and be sure to make every day—”
“—A Marbleous day!” Mary Alice finished.
And with that Mary Alice took hold of Ms. Murples hand, closed her eyes, and when she opened them she was back from the maginary, sitting at her little tea table, squeezing Ms. Murple tightly in her arms.
“Come on Ms. Murple. I can’t wait for round the corner. Let’s go give Mommy her special birthday present now! Do you think it will work? I think it will work! I think it will bring back her happy and make her smile!”
Ms. Murple agreed….