Marbles

So this is my first attempt, but I want to start writing children's literature. If any of you readers have younger brothers or sisters/ children/ grandchildren/ cousins/ nephews or nieces around the ages of 9/10 maybe you could comment on how the language of the story is. I'm not too sure if its too easy reading? But let me know - cc very much appreciated.

TWO BOYS, FROM VERY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS, BECOME TO KNOW EACH OTHER THROUGH A GAME OF MARBLES. AS THE DUELS BECOME MORE INTENSE AND JEALOUSY SETS IN EACH TASTES THE THRILL OF COMPETING AND WANTS MORE. BUT CAN THESE COMPETITORS EVER BE FRIENDS WHEN THEY ARE BOTH SEARCHING FOR VERY VERY DIFFERENT THINGS AND BOTH NEED TO WIN?

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2. The Rich and Poor

Billy Harris lived in Meadow Hill with his mother; Audrey, and little sister; Rebecca. It was a quiet town filled with lots of children but it was fairly normal. Fathers went out to the factories in town to work and mothers cooked and cleaned and looked after the children. There were sometimes those special days that happened every year, like the Village Fair that sold pink and blue cotton candy as big as your head and had a big yellow bouncy castle that mothers and father couldn’t enter and there was always an extremely tall clown walking on stilts. Things like that happened but most days, life in the village was normal. Well, as normal as life can be.

But even though he lived in a normal village, in a normal house, with a normal family and a normal life, Billy Harris was not all that normal. He was a very special child. He was a nine year old boy who had a very special set of talents.

If you looked at Billy, you would see that he wasn’t normal either. He only had one arm; his left arm. The other was cut short just past his shoulder before it had reached the elbow. It was just a stump. A lot of people would stare at Billy.

“Here’s the boy with the stump,” they would say if they saw him out with his mother.

Sometimes, other boys from the village would call him ‘stumpy’. That used to make Billy sad. When he heard those mean comments he would cry and his shoulders would hang low. Most nights he would look out of his windows and find the brightest star in the sky. He would put his only hand to his heart and wish.

“I wish I could be like everyone else. I wish I had another arm.”

But when Billy woke up the next morning, he still only had one. What Billy didn’t realise was that he didn’t really need to be like everyone else. Although he couldn’t hold a bat or catch a ball as well as most of the children in the village, he could do other things a lot better than them. He just had to find out what they were. He was a very, very lucky boy indeed.

Billy’s family, like a lot of the village, were very poor. They didn’t have much money and they couldn’t afford for Billy or Rebecca to go to school. Audrey and Billy’s father; Michael, tried very hard to make sure that Billy and his sister had the best education that they could. Some days, when Billy’s mother wasn’t too busy, she would help them to read and practice their writing. Other days, Michael would teach them about planets and how things worked. When his father was talking Billy was always silent and, normally, went to bed wishing that he could be lots of the things that his father talked about; an astronaut, a pilot, a train mechanic. He loved learning.

The Harris’ were a very close family. Because they were poor, they always spent time supporting each other. Billy always stayed home to help his mother look after his sister and he helped her with any of the letters that she couldn’t write and words that she couldn’t say.

“He’s a good lad,” Michael would always say to Audrey.

They were right. He was a very good boy.

*

On the other side of the village, near the giant, weedy pond lived Julian Brady. He was nothing like Billy. In fact, it was rather strange that they should meet at all.

Julian was much richer than Billy. He was able to go to school but he hated it. The only reason he liked to go was to see his friends. He had lots of them and always liked to tell his aunts and uncles how many he had. He had a chart that he’d drawn himself. He kept it in a shoe box under his bed. His special shoe box was the place he kept lots of secret things that he didn’t want to share with anyone. Especially his parents. In his box he had twenty pounds, four new shiny batteries, a portable stereo player, a silver frame with him and his Grandma Petunia before she died and, of course, the friend chart.

Every day, Julian counted how many friends he had. He made a list of all the people he played with a playtime, all the people who had wanted to borrow his pencil sharpener in maths class and all the people he had tackled during rugby. He wrote down their names and counted them. He usually had around ten people on the list but for him that was never enough.

Whilst Billy, on the other side of the village, was wishing for a new arm to help him play catch and write properly, Julian wished for one more friend. Each night, as he lay down, he half-heartedly said the prayers that he had been taught in his Sunday school.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for protecting my family and those who I love. I know I’m not a good boy, sometimes I am not worthy of your love, but please teach me to be a good Christian.

‘Our father,
Who art in Heaven … ’

He knew that every night his father listened outside his door until he said them. So every night Julian made sure he did just that to please his parents. After he’d said them, Julian would count to twenty. That was when he knew that his father wouldn’t be listening anymore. That was when he could pray for what he really wanted; more people to play with.

Although Julian had more things than most children, he was very unhappy. His mother and father were always busy. They both had things to do, but that didn’t always mean work. Julian’s father; Harold, went to work in a housing company, selling people houses in the top end of town. After he finished work, he would go down to the pub with his friends – he had lots more than Julian – and would drink beer and ale until the time that Julian was supposed to be in bed. Julian’s mother; Madison, was not a typical mother. Every day she caught the bus early in the morning down to one of her friend’s houses or to a coffee morning in the town. Sometimes she came home for lunch but Julian usually missed her because he was at school on those days. Then she would go back down with her friends to go shopping and buy new evening dresses – usually pink ones with tiny silver sequins – so that she could look beautiful for when she went to a dinner party or book club at another person’s house.

Julian’s parents had plenty of friends and lots of things to do that didn’t involve him. He soon realised that if he didn’t count his friends he may not have any and only be left with Patricia, their cleaner.

It was for this reason that Julian always wanted something else in his life. He felt like he needed to prove himself to his parents so that they wouldn’t go out and say:

“Sorry honey, this has been on the calendar for months.”

He was all by himself most of the time and he never saw his parents apart from at breakfast. He didn’t want a pet. He wanted more friends.

When you are alone and you feel that you can’t find your place in the world, there are lots of things you think about. They are often things you don’t mean and lead you to do things that you don’t want to do. When you feel like this, you must be clever. You must not let those feelings take over you. Even though Julian knew this, he wasn’t feeling very clever and he started to think of things he could do that would make his parents love him more.

Even though I said this wasn’t a very clever idea, sometimes the best things come from silly ideas. Like putting funny ingredients into a cake and baking to find that it’s the most delicious things for miles that anyone has ever tasted. For Julian, although he didn’t know it, this idea would give him everything he ever wanted and needed. 

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