It was around this time that Connie became obsessed with finding the perfect marble. She would spend hours trawling the toy stores, picking up each glass boule and examining for flaws. “I need it to be spherical, truly spherical,” she said. Rummaging through a box of glass orbs. Like tiny planets fallen to Earth and gathered up for children’s amusement.
“I had a huge bag of cats-eye marbles when I was a child,” I told her, “perhaps I could ask papa to send them,”
They were still somewhere in the house in Devon, probably on a windowsill staring out across the moor.
“The city is so square,” said Connie, “everything at right-angles, I find it oppressive.”
Spoilt children ran around us, picking out toys, and demanding treats. Frazzled mothers and over-indulgent fathers complied, seeking the quiet life. Connie held up a blue glass marble, “almost perfect,” she said, noticing a slight elongation, the hint of an egg-shape.
“You know there is no such thing as a sphere,” I said, “they’re described in mathematics, but they never occur in real life, you never get a true, perfect sphere.”
Connie thought about this. Then continued looking, holding up marbles one by one to the light. I ran my hand through one of the boxes of marbles, feeling the heaviness of the glass, and the greasy sound they made as they knocked against each other.
“What will you do when you find the perfect marble?” I asked,
“I want to roll it down the gallery of the Guggenheim Museum,” she said, as if it were obvious. The Guggenheim Museum is built as a gentle spiral, which guests walk up and down as they view the artworks.
“I like marbles,” I said, “they are one of the few gender-neutral toys we have left.”
“I’d not thought of that,” said Connie.
She looked sad. “None of these are quite right,” she said, looking at the box of marbles. “I’m not going to find it today, I can tell.”
We left the shop and walked across the park, the living sun high in the sky. Throwing mottled shadows through the tress, and gently baking the walkers in the park, skin turning slowly brown, freckles appearing, and beads of sweat forming on brows.
“Everyone is different,” I said, looking at the medley of people in the park. “But really close up, or really far away, everyone looks the same.”
Image: Marbles, collage by Connie