Thanks to Celli for a lovely beta job. Written for Livia, who planted the bunny and then ran off, leaving me with it. It ate my brain, and this was the result. g
There was a marble under the couch. Clark picked it up. He was five, and it was very little, so he pushed it up into his nose.
The trouble was, it was round and small, and Clark couldn't get it back out again. He tried, but every time he stuck his finger in his nose, the marble seemed further away.
After a few minutes of sniffing and blowing, Clark clambered up onto the couch and peeped over the back. "Pete," he said quietly.
Pete looked up from the G.I. Joe he was burying under one of Clark's socks. "What?"
"There's a marble in my nose."
"Oh," said Pete. He put an upturned truck over the G.I. Joe and stood up. "Is it stuck?"
"Yes," said Clark, and sat down cross-legged on the couch. Pete came around to the front and Clark held out his hand, because Pete was very short and needed help to get onto things sometimes. That was okay. Clark needed help getting things out of his nose sometimes, like now.
"What kind of marble is it?" said Pete, kneeling up on the sofa cushions.
"A blue one," said Clark, tipping his head back. "With a red stripe."
Pete dug in his pocket and pulled out the little flashlight he'd got for his birthday. It was really cool. It was colored like army clothes and it had a button you could press to make flashes like Morse code, for if you were trapped somewhere and you needed help. He wouldn't let Clark play with it, which sucked.
"I can't see anything," he said, shining it into Clark's face. "Are you it's up there?"
"Yes," said Clark, looking at Pete again. He rubbed at his nose. "I can feel it."
"Huh." Pete clicked off the flashlight and sat back on his heels. "Have you tried the Dustman's Blow, like Dan taught us?"
Dan was Pete's big brother, and he knew everything. One day, when Clark was at Pete's house and one of Pete's miniature model cars had got stuck in Clark's ear, Dan had got it out with a big curly thing called a magnet. Then he had sat Clark and Pete down on the front porch and shown them the Dustman's Blow.
"It won't work for ears," he'd said, crouched down in front of them, "but it's the shit for noses."
Pete shouted "DAN!" and started giggling. Clark grinned and blushed. It was bad to swear, but Dan did it all the time when Mrs. Ross wasn't around. He was so cool.
"You put one finger over your nose, the side that isn't blocked, like this," Dan said, demonstrating, "and then you blow. Like this."
He blew, and a fat booger shot out of his nose and landed on the pavement. Pete yelled and pointed, and then Dan scooped up the booger on a piece of card and chased Pete and Clark around the yard with it until Pete fell down and scraped his knee. He cried, and Mrs. Ross came out, and Dan got yelled at. Pete and Clark got juice and cookies, and watched cartoons. It was a good day.
Clark looked doubtfully down at the couch. "What if a booger comes out my nose?"
Pete frowned and chewed his lip. "Yeah. Okay. Should we tell your mom?"
"No!" said Clark. "She'll be mad." And she would be, because Clark had promised not to put things in his nose anymore. Or his ears. "I promised," he said out loud, and his face went all hot. He sat back on the couch and wrapped his arms around his face.
"Don't freak," said Pete, and thumped Clark's shoulder.
"I'm going to have a marble in my nose forever!" Clark sniffled and sat up. He wiped his nose on his sleeve.
Pete sat there looking at him for a minute. Then he smiled. "I know!" he said, and scrambled down off the couch. "Stay there."
He ran off to Clark's toybox and opened the lid. "Do you still have those girl's toys?" he said, leaning over to look inside.
"They're not girl's toys," said Clark, frowning. Pete was so stupid. Mama said that Clark's toys showed he was well rounded and had layers. He didn't know what that meant. He had stood in front of the bathroom mirror on a stool for ages looking, but he didn't look round at all. He was shaped like a boy. And he didn't know what layers was, but he didn't think he had that either. Mama was never wrong, though. It was very confusing.
Pete had leant over even further into the toybox, and his legs were waving about in the air. He was balancing on his belly, and Clark could hear things being thrown around inside. "Aha!" yelled Pete, and he dropped back down onto the floor. "Found it!"
Clark looked. Pete was holding a feather duster. "What are you going to do?"
Pete ran back over to the couch and Clark wriggled off it. Pete put his hands on Clark's shoulders. "Stay still," he said. "And trust me. This always works on cartoons."
Clark didn't understand, but he stood there anyway, and Pete stuck the duster into Clark's face. He moved it over Clark's nose.
It tickled, and Clark pushed it away. "Don't," he said, and scrubbed at his face.
"Clark, look. Do you want to go to school this fall with a marble in your nose?" Pete pointed the duster at Clark. It had pink feathers.
"No," said Clark.
"Well then. Stay still."
Clark sighed, and screwed his eyes tight shut. After a second he felt the feathers moving over his face again. For a while nothing happened, except it was really itchy and Clark dug his hands into his pockets to stop himself pushing it away again.
Then all of a sudden, his nose started to twitch, and his face felt tingly. "Pete," he tried to say, but he got a mouthful of feathers instead. "Gargh," he said, and turned his face to the side and sneezed.
"Is it gone?" said Pete, getting out his flashlight and trying to tip Clark's head back again.
"It's gone," said Clark, and grinned. Then he looked down at the floor. "Where's the marble?"
Pete looked around a bit. "I don't know, but what's that?"
Clark looked over at where Pete was pointing. "Oh."
There was a hole in the wall. A little one, but there were bits of plaster falling to the floor around it. Clark watched as Pete crawled over and put his eye to the hole.
"You can see right through!" he yelled, turning around to smile at Clark. "Come and see! It's so cool!"
It was cool, and so was Super Bullet Sneeze, which they ended up playing a lot that summer. Clark was almost out of marbles by the time school started again. Pete said there was no way he was putting his own marbles up Clark's nose. But he did let Clark play with the little flashlight, so Clark supposed it was a fair trade.
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