Robin Berkley's entry I'm enjoying how different we interpret the writing prompts.
A dozen shiny spheres clunked against each other as Ally tipped open the brown cloth bag Daddy had given her that morning at breakfast. They were warm and heavy in her hand. She looked around the playground hoping someone would offer to teach her how to play marbles.
A group of girls from her class huddled around a teen magazine, giggling. Another group of girls had linked arms and were skipping across the yard singing. Most of the boys were flicking hockey cards against the school wall while a few played catch with a deflated football.
Her little brother, Greg, sat beneath a tree at the edge of the playground. He'd arranged some empty beers cans into a windy twisting train. She watched him move the lead can forward and to the right. He used a stick to measure the distance between then cans then lined them all back up in their previous formation, just a few inches forward of their previous position. Greg liked angles, exact measurements and geometry even though those things made Ally's stomach hurt. She turned away. He was fine over there playing by himself.
She spied Tommy and Max on their knees in front of hole they'd scratched out of the dirt. Even though they were a grade older her than Ally, they sometimes talked to her on the school bus. Tommy always wanted to know what she had for lunch and Max always told him not to be a bully.
Ally crossed the yard to watch them. Tommy glared up at her. "What do you want?"
She held the bag out for him to see. "Will you teach me how to play?"
Tommy grabbed the bag and spilled the marbles onto the dirt. He sorted them out by colour and size. "I'll take this one as payment." He held up a large black marble full of white clouds like a misty morning before dawn.
"Try to get your marble into the hole without knocking our marbles in." Max flicked a blue green marble as a demonstration. "Whoever has the most marbles in the hole wins all of them."
The three of them knelt down to play. It took a few tries for Ally to get the hang of it but she had one marble in the hole and two on the lip. Tommy's marbles were the furthest away and Max had two in the hole. His yellow marble clinked into Tommy's green one.
A squirrel ran past and Tommy kicked at it.
Ally yelled at him. Before she knew it, Greg barreled past her and shoved Tommy. "Leave it alone!"
Tommy shoved Greg down into the dirt. Greg kicked him and Ally threw herself on top of her little brother. "Stop!" she yelled at both of them.
"Leave the little kid alone, Tommy" Max tugged at his friend as a crowd grew around them.
A pretty blonde girl strode up to them. Her two equally blonde and pretty friends followed on her heels. Tracey planted herself in front of Tommy. "Leave him alone, Tommy or I'm telling Mom and Dad."
She whipped around so fast her long hair hit her brother in the face. "I'm Tracey." She held her hand out to help Ally up. "These are my friends Terry and Tonia."
"I know." Ally pulled Greg up with her and kept his arm around his small shoulders. He was still primed to fight. "We're in Miss Stickles class together."
"Do you want to be friends?"
Ally narrowed her eyes. Was this a trick? The 3 Ts didn't talk to any of the other girls. They went everywhere together and acted like no one else was in the world.
"Hey, anyone who takes on my brother is a friend of mine." The other Ts nodded. "I don't know why Max hangs out with him."
Max shrugged. "He's not all bad."
Tracey held out her hand. With a scowl Tommy dropped a couple of marbles into it. She dropped down onto her knees and flicked all three marbles straight into the hole.
Greg clapped and smiled. Ally released him. He walked back to the tree and his beer can train. A black squirrel sat at the base of the tree and watched him approach. It didn't run off or scamper up the tree.
That was one of the things about her brother. Animals trusted him. They liked to be around him. The only time he ever showed any temper was when one of them was threatened. Ally had spent most of his life protecting him from bullies like Tommy.
Tracey handed all of the marbles to Ally. "Justice."
Ally looked at her brother content beneath the tree. Tommy glared at his sister. "I didn't want them anyway. Marbles are a baby game."
Max rolled his eyes.
"Thank you." Ally fished through the handful of marbles searching for the black misty one. She handed it to Tommy. A peace offering. "Thank you for teaching me how to play."
He crinkled his face and kicked at the dirt. "Nah, you keep it. I cheated you out of it."
"Nope. It's only fair payment for the lesson."
Max cuffed his friend in the shoulder. "Take it, Tommy. It's a beauty."
Tommy grabbed the marble. "You're alright. For a girl."
The school bell rang to end recess.
"Want to play again tomorrow?" Tommy tucked the marble into the front pocket of his corduroys.
"She can't." Tracey looped her arm through Ally's. "We're going to show her how to flip her hair so she looks like one of Charlie's Angels."
Ally smiled to herself. Daddy was going to be so surprised when she told him he was right. Marbles did help her make friends. He would laugh because Mommy had said no one would want to be Ally's friend. She was too strange. She didn't know how to have fun.
Mommy was wrong. Ally had a lot of fun - especially when Tommy got beat by his sister. A girl. She had wanted to laugh until he looked like he was going to cry. He looked too much like her baby brother right then.
That made her sad. So she gave him the marble. It didn't mean anything to her.
Tommy ran ahead of her and shoved the marble under another guy's nose. "Look what I won! Suckers!"