Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Marble This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The room is a bakery in Hell’s Kitchen. Once, all the neighborhood kids would come down and buy calzones and macaroons and cookie cakes as big as their heads. But that was a long time ago. Now there are more chips of paint on the floor than on the walls. It’s a dusty old place with a tattered curtain over a puny window, that lets the bare morning light shine in. There are four food-encrusted tables and an old counter that displays the pastries, positioned awkwardly in the room. In the counter is a cash register so rusty you would think it’s painted orange. The only thing about the bakery that remains from its olden days is the smell. Oh, the smell! I could honestly tell you that’s the best smell in the State of New York. Although it’s not like it once was; there are still pastries, bear claws, fruit tarts, and cinnamon apple pie. This is what remains of Romano and Son Sweets on Twelfth Street.
Mr. Romano is a frail old Italian man. He is sweeping the floor the same way he has every day except Sunday for the last thirty years. He doesn’t even notice the condition of the place. And if he does he doesn’t care. He wears his apron like a badge. What was once a vibrant red is now worn down, every stain telling a story. He stops sweeping for a minute and takes a deep breath. He inhales the aroma of the place, not just the smell but the memories it brings. A smile comes to his mustached face and a tear dawns on his weary eye. He has kind eyes. He is a kind man. And right now he doesn’t have a care in the world.
He continues to sweep with a shaky movement. His gnarled hands drop the broom and as he bends over to pick it up, a small aquamarine marble drops from his pocket. It rolls away, hits the edge of the counter and stops and glistens in the dim morning light. Mr. Romano walks over and picks up the marble. He rubs it between his thumb and forefinger. It belonged to his son as a toddler. His boy loved the bakery. Ever since grade school, Mr. Romano and the boy would bake cookies together. In high school it was a popular hangout, the place where his son brought several girls to meet his father. In his late twenties, the boy would stop by every now and then to help with the goodies. Mr. Romano even changed the name from Romano’s Sweets to Romano and Son Sweets for the boy’s thirteenth birthday.
The feeling of outliving your children is one of the worst feelings imaginable. It’s an experience so severe that you or I or anyone who hasn’t gone through it can never understand. The old man puts the marble back in his pocket, wipes the sweat off his brow and continues to sweep. People have often told Romano that it’s time to sell his bakery. They said he was too old and his shop was so broken down that he should probably retire. At times he wishes he could. But the shop has too much sentimental value. His boy loved the place so much that leaving it in the dust would do the same to his son’s memories. And that is something he wants to hold on to. He can’t even imagine a life without the bakery. No, he will carry on until the day he dies.
Mr. Romano is tired. With a creak from his old bones he sits down in a chair to rest. He feels a familiar ache in his chest, but he does not panic. He considers reaching for the phone to call 911 but instead grabs the marble and clutches it hard. He thinks of his boy. He gasps for air then is silent. He lies there motionless, a smile on his lips. The marble drops from his hand and shatters on the bakery floor.




Join the Discussion


This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

glamouriizeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 10:50 pm:
This is great. Very descriptive but kinda hard on the eye. I'd suggest breaking it up where needed to give it a more readable appearance. Other than that I really think it was a great job bravo :)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Hanban12This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 8:01 pm:
I really loved this. The whole background story was very captivating and enjoyable, and I loved how you turned something so mediocre into something very extraordinary! You captured my attention right off the bat, I also loved how the marble had a double meaning and you gave everything much symbolism. Great job!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
RoyalCoronaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
yesterday at 8:56 pm:
Not bad! It was a bit repetitive throughtout the larger paragraphs but overall it was somewhat enjoyable to read. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback