Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Do you think anyone else stays awake like we do, talking in the dark? Yes, said Harlan, I’m sure they do. What do you think they say? said Blurtso. They tell tales, said Harlan, of what they did during the day, or say silly things like children who can’t sleep, or say sad things about the sorrows they hope to change, and then they sing lullabies to each other, until they forget their sorrows, and sleep like children who can sleep.
What’s this? said Blurtso, pawing up a marble. Wow… an aggie! and here’s another… an opal, and a cat’s eye, and an oxblood, a turtle, a ruby, and a steely! Let’s play keepsies! he said, scattering the ducks in a circle he drew on the ground. If I could just knuckle down, he thought, pressing his hoof into the sand. O.k., here goes… bull’s eye! he said when his taw knocked a duck off the pond. Now I’ll go for that granddaddy… bingo! Now I’ll get that peawee… bang! Blurtso continued to shoot, striking one duck after another until the circle was clear. Hmmm, he said, feeling as empty as the empty circle, maybe I shouldn’t have won all the marbles.