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Many, many years ago I read a short story about a child whose mother is working in the kitchen and a small child is playing on the floor. The child goes out the open door toward a shiny/sparkling ball/sphere in the road. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! Does this story have any science fiction elements? Does something strange/unexplained happen to the child? Note that this question is very terse; you should check out the suggestions for story-id questions to see if they can help you recall any additional details.
    – DavidW
    Nov 19, 2019 at 20:32

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I believe this is Theodore Dreiser's "The Blue Sphere" (ISFDB), which I recall from Rod Serling's Devils and Demons. It involves a family with a deformed child, Eddie, nicknamed "The Monstrosity", and "The Shadow", a supernatural figure that only Eddie can see, who attempts to lure Eddie to his death, eventually succeeding by guiding him with the eponymous blue sphere to the nearby train tracks. It was originally a one-act play, but I believe that Serling's book turned it into prose.

You can read it online on the Internet Archive here. I've excerpted some quotes:

THE SHADOW
[A soft, girlish figure, entering the Delavan kitchen, trailing clouds of diaphanous drapery, a pale blue sphere in her hands. She looks about, passes through the walls to the front bedroom, where Eddie, THE MONSTROSITY, lies, and bends over the crib.]
Eddie! Eddie! (She holds up the sphere.)

....

THE SHADOW
[The child following her.]
Round and round, round and round. Pale grey! Pale blue! Dark! Light! Light! Dark! Light! Dark! (The child crawls eagerly after.)

HARRY
[Entering a few moments later with Eddie in his arms.]
Somebody's left the gate open again. The kid was right near it. Say, if we don't keep it closed he'll get out some day and right down on the tracks. He was just scramblin' along.

MRS. DELAVAN
\Wearily.~\
Now, who could have done that! It must have been the mailman. (She puts the child beside her on the floor.) I think I'll have to tie a string around him. He's getting awfully restless these days. I never saw anything like it. (She contemplates the years of misery and discomfort and distress which he represents, but reproaches herself for it all at the same time.) I don't know whatever I am to do with him. I can't lock him up in a room all day all by himself. (She closes the door.)

....

THE FAST MAIL
[Passing Rutland, five miles away.]
Ooooo-ee ! Ooooo-ee ! Ooh-ooh !

THE SHADOW
Just a little farther! Soon you will have it now. Soon I will give it to you. When we reach the corner, when we get there where the steel rails shine I will give it to you. Isn't it perfect ! Isn't it blue ! See how the light falls through it clear as water.
[She trips gaily backward, waving the sphere before her from side to side.]

THE FAST MAIL,
[Entering the environs of Marydale at fifty miles an hour and only a mile away.] Ooooo-ce ! Oooooo-cc ! Ooh-ooh !

THE SHADOW
[Hovering above the tracks a -few -feet in front of the child.]

See, when you get here, right here, I will give it to you. The beautiful ball! The beautiful sphere ! This you are to have when you get here here! You will be so happy.

[She coaxes, smiles and pleads. THE MONSTROSITY follows.]

My process for finding this was that I remembered the book had "Devils" and "Demons" in the title, and was contemporaneous with the Night Gallery book, which came out in the 1970s, so I searched for 1970s short story anthology about demons and devils, which brought up the cover I remembered. From there, it was a matter of searching for that title and its contents, and noting that "The Blue Sphere" sounded like it would be right, and then searching for the author's name and title.

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