There wasn't much to it, honestly. It was just a ball. A simple, ordinary, uninteresting ball. Like the balls you got for a quarter in pizza shops or at kiosks in the mall. The kind of background object you'd never think twice about seeing somewhere.
Except that it appeared on the table beside my computer, and I knew I owned no such thing.
I should have ignored it. I had no reason to do otherwise, and I had plenty of things I needed to be working on. I should have ignored it, but the work I had to do was tedious and unappealing, and I thought, What could be the harm?
The minute I touched it, the ball rose into the air in front of me and flashed once, bright as lightning. When I could see again, the ball was gone, but so I was I. Somehow, it had taken me to a post office of sorts.
I walked slowly through the space, almost mesmerized by the behind-the-scenes business, letters and packages whizzing through the air around me as far as I could see in all directions. I found two or three with my name on them, but they turned out to be junk.
Interesting as the place was, I couldn't fathom a reason for being there, but just as I started to get impatient, I saw the ball again, sitting on a nearby table. I touched it again and, with another flash, I was transported again to someplace new.
It was a large reception hall filled to the brim with friends and acquaintances of mine, all talking and chattering. It was a busy, loud place, and while it was great to see some people and share what had been going on since I'd seen them last, it was hard to have an in-depth conversation, and for every person I wanted to talk to, there were plenty I was happy to avoid.
No sooner had I started looking for an exit than the ball was back. Still not quite sure what was going on, I touched it again.
I found myself in a security office, a wall of televisions in front of me, each showing a different picture, but not security footage like I would have expected. Some were showing clips of television shows and movies. Some were showing home videos. Some were showing everyday people just sitting and talking to a camera. I stayed and watched a few, and then a few more, and then a few more, but eventually I pulled myself away, and as I turned from the screens, the ball was there to whisk me away again.
My eyes lit up when I realized I was in a library. But I quickly discovered that this was not a library like the ones I was used to. No YA novels or classics here -- everything I looked at seemed to be self-published -- and not all of it was good, let me tell you. But I found some things worth reading. Lots of it was fiction, some of it was social or media commentary, all of it was fascinating. I could have spent hours there.
By this time, I was starting to become conflicted. On the one hand, I had work, and it needed to be done. On the other, the strange ball had finally led me someplace interesting. But that sense of duty . . .
The ball came back, bouncing slowly beside me, enticing, tantalizing. I thought of all the work waiting for me . . . but, I reasoned, it wasn't like I had a way to get home without the ball's help. So I touched it.
I thought the library had been enticing? Oh, man, it was nothing compared to where I landed next. A giant room, the walls covered in paper, where a countless number of people could walk around and tape pictures to the walls, write remarks, and then everyone else could follow and see what had been said, add their own commentary. I saw so much of that room, and I barely scratched the surface. It was wonderful -- having other people remark on my words, seeing different stories and ideas from new perspectives. Eventually, I tore myself away when it became clear that I could never see everything the room had to offer.
I knew I had work to do, so when the ball appeared at my shoulder this time, I said, "Enough. Home, please."
The next thing I knew, I was back at my desk, my work still waiting for me. Several hours had passed, without my even noticing, and I knew that the time for escape was done. With a sigh of regret, the memory of the places the ball had taken me still fresh in my mind, I dove in.
I've never seen the ball again, not really. But more frequently than I like to admit, when I should be focusing on work, I see something bouncing in the corner of my eye, drawing me away. And if I reach out for it, I am once more drawn away to those fantastic places, led on eternally by the bouncing ball of procrastination.