The Lost Ball
(a juggling story workshopped at Celebration Barn Theater with Benny Reehl)
By Cindy Marvell
In the beginning there was nothing special about her. She was just a girl like other girls. She played along in other people’s games and fell into the rhythm of their ways. Until one day she found a ball; or it found her it later seemed. In point of fact, they found each other. The ball fit easily in the palm of her hand. At times it could be joyful… intricate… depressed… whimsical… complex… profound… nonchalant… The ball was full of surprises.
One day the girl had an idea; an inspiration, she thought. Come on, ball, we’ll travel around the world. We’ll make each other famous. But the ball wasn’t interested. She begged and pleaded but it refused. Their movements became awkward and unappealing. They argued constantly each struggling to gain the upper hand. And as the girl began to plan for the future she saw the ball less and less until eventually she lost sight of it altogether.
Without the ball her mind became as dull and uneventful as a blank wall. And when she looked out at the world it no longer seemed inviting but huge and scary. She began to look for the ball. She sensed its presence but she could not see it. At night she looked for it among the stars in the sky and on sunny days she peered among the cotton-ball clouds hoping to catch sight of it. She searched for it among the beads of dew in the grass but still it eluded her. Without the ball she felt herself rolling in a sea of darkness and despair.
Once in a while it reappeared momentarily only to vanish as quickly as it came. This went on for a while. Costume changes!
She lost her balance. She became contorted and confused. And always she had the feeling the ball was hovering just out of her reach – if only she knew where to look. Finally she gave up the search. She found other balls to replace the one she had lost. The new balls were shiny and sophisticated. They made the old balls seem naïve and unrefined.
The new balls always did what she told them. They never thought of having any ideas of their own. Her tosses became smooth and flowing, some of the time, her movements polished and her catches complete. When she tired of these she added another ball; and soon, another. And everywhere she went people cheered and applauded! They did not realize that she had sacrificed freedom for control.
Soon people who were never interested in her before began to ask her questions. What inspired you to learn this? How long do you practice this? Will you be getting a job soon? And she answered with whatever came to mind at the moment and they never realized that the real answer was the ball lost long ago.
Soon audiences no longer cheered as loudly for her tricks. Others came along who were swifter, suaver, more polished than she. And as the girl realized these things she began to get bored with her tricks. The audience became bored: right on cue. Finally even the balls became bored and they went off to find somebody more exciting.
And now the girl was all alone in the wide world. She thought she had nothing left to live for. But then, just when she was at her lowest point she noticed a light coming through the door and it was the white ball! They danced with each other as they had before, and the girl and the ball stayed together for the rest of their days.