Joe: Strike!Mature

Word Count: 1,028

The thought of my birthday had brought on an understandable bout of grief once more and sadness flooded through me. I had spent each and every birthday I had with my parents, but obviously that couldn’t happen. I didn’t want to be upset though, I was tired of it. It was exhausting and consuming. When Cancer and Rayn had suggested a bowling alley the idea seemed so normal and I really wanted the normal back in my life, so I had agreed.

Cancer was right; it wasn’t hard to find one, a large building with some of the letters missing and a massive picture of bowling pins faced us. We parked the car and went inside, sweeping the grounds for any bodies either dead or alive. A handful had been found and we put them in a separate room and locked the door so the place looked deserted. Rayn found the power and flicked it on, not enough to attract attention but enough to have fun.

He picked up a bowling ball from the nearby rack and handed it to me. ‘Happy birthday Joe.’

I grinned at them. Little did they know I was an expert at bowling; I got a strike on the first go. I couldn’t help a little smirk in their direction.

When it came to Rayn’s go he got a spare and Cancer ended up with a gutter ball. I stifled back some laughter.

‘Not to brag,’ I told them. ‘But I’m something of an expert when it comes to bowling.’

‘It’s your birthday, I’m letting you win.’

‘I’m kicking your ass at it.’

I picked up another ball on my go and feigned concentration. Call it a skill or a basic instinct, but I had always been good at bowling. It’s one of those pretty useless talents that you have, one that you can’t really do anything with.

‘No I’m letting you win.’

‘Don’t be a sore loser,’ I laughed.

For the first time in ages I was feeling a little happier. I had no doubt that it had a little something to do with the weed that Cancer was providing but right now I simply care. I was having fun.

Cancer bowled again, ending up with yet another gutter ball. He scowled.

Rayn, however, was starting to give me a run for my money. He got strike after strike and I started to realize the seriousness of the situation. I may not actually win a game of bowling. This brought out my competitive nature and I started focussing a little bit more, minimizing the chatter and bowling with a newfound determination.

Cancer never gave up bowling despite the fact that he was fucking terrible at it. About eight out of ten bowls were gutter balls, the rest ended up either completely missing the pins or knocking just one over.

Rayn could have won, but he missed a couple of the pins on the last bowl and I got them all in one again.

‘Good game,’ I tried to contain the smugness I felt but I didn’t do a very good job at it.

He pouted. ‘Best out of three.’

‘Face it, you lost,’ I grinned.

He continued pouting.

‘It’s okay,’ I patted his shoulder. ‘It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to the kind of level I’m on now.’

Out of nowhere he pounced, sending me to the floor and proceeded to sit on top of my back. ‘Best out of three!’

I tried shoving him off, to no avail.

‘Just do it, he won’t give in,’ Cancer added, obviously completely used to it.

‘Okay, okay! But you’re just gonna lose.’

Rayn giggled and bounced off to reset the lane. He was like a happy bubbly child despite the fact that he was in his early twenties. He looked like one as well with the massive smile stretching his face as he set the pins up and got some more bowling balls ready. I couldn’t help the laughter that escaped. It was actually turning out to be a good day. Well, as good as it can be.

‘Are you ready to lose?’ I said dramatically to both of them. I took my time selecting a ball and when I did, I turned to face Rayn. ‘You go first this time actually.’

He picked up the ball nearest to him and got an immediate strike.

‘Cancer do you want your go or shall we just assume you’re still pretty bad at it?’

‘Fuck you.’ He bowled and actually got a couple of pins. It was better than his previous go and I resisted the urge to start clapping. I could only imagine how much he’d appreciate that.

However when it was my go I bowled all wrong and didn’t get a strike. My mouth fell in surprise. I was all off, but I couldn’t let Rayn win. He grinned and got yet another strike.

Cancer started laughing and bowled again.

‘I blame these shoes; I don’t have the proper bowling shoes on.’ It was a piss poor excuse.

Rayn tutted. ‘Don’t blame inanimate objects for your own failings. He had taken his shoes off at the start and was running around with nothing covering his feet. I stuck my bottom lip out and slipped my own shoes off. The floor was slippery and I skidded over in my socks to get another ball.

I concentrated hard on what I was doing and stepped right up to the bowling line and brought the ball up to my face. I stared at the pins hard, willing them to fall over and do as they were meant to and I sent the ball down the lane.

‘St-ri-ke,’ I enunciated each syllable, grinning again.

Rayn replicated my strike and I scrunched my nose up at him. I had finally met my competition when it came to bowling.

Cancer’s bowl sent over more than two pins for the first time and he smiled pleased with himself.

This is how we continued, we bowled and we laughed and we just had fun. It was something that we had all needed for a very long time.

The End

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