Strike One


Thursday nights kicked off the weekend before it actually arrived. The group of women were in a bowling league that met each week at Red Apple Lanes, more as a social interaction than a real hobby. Not much else happens in a small town, and single women had hardly anywhere else to meet other single people. Married women, or who would’ve been called “matrons” in the past, went bowling out of habit. They acquired the compulsion as younger singles themselves.

A forlorn stench of cigarettes and hard, musty carpet from thousands of spilled drinks permeated the place. So many others before them had nursed either their low league average or a budding penchant for drinking away the doldrums. A humdrum life in the “sticks” had that effect on people. Boredom coupled with a lack of culture in a community added up to nothing but trouble.

Each strike spawned a triumphant team whoop for whoever threw the ball. Hi-fives all around elevated the celebratory environment, but missing that 7-10 split generated only a conciliatory fist-bump. Who knew the simple act of bowling involved such rituals? Such was the case with Michelle’s Thursday night, more bumps than cheers, and a long day at the office earlier didn’t help her mood any either.

Michelle yanked off her wrist guard disgustedly and replaced her rental shoes with her heeled boots. They were hanging out in the bar afterward, and she hoped to get a good enough buzz going to forget about having one more day of the work week left.  In fact, she considered just drinking herself into oblivion.

The team won without Michelle’s help, and everyone retired to the smoke-filled grayness of the lounge for their traditional libations. It was Ladie’s Night, which meant “two for one,” so Michelle ordered a round of Purple Passion shots. She thought, “What the hell? Perfect end to a shitty day.” Several rounds later Michelle decided it was time to get her passionless self home. Everyone else was destined for dancing at another club in town, but she had work the next morning.

She lamented her lot in life … just when the party was starting, she had to call it a night. Eight o’clock came mighty early after closing the bar down the night before. It seemed wisest to leave the others, even though her social life consisted of little more than Thursday Girls’ Night. Such was probably the case for her teammates, too.

It was like an infection actually, having nothing better to do than to pump more cirrhosis into their livers and increase their hereditary odds at developing an addiction. Her life might be dull, but she refused to spend it sober AND boring.

Just when Michelle was cursing her dumb luck and thought things couldn’t get any worse, she realized shit can always roll downhill. She heard sirens and looked in the rear-view mirror to see flashing lights of a police car behind her. She was about to find out how fortunate she had been up until now.

 *This post “stemmed” (pun intended) by the writing prompts red apple and infection at Studio 30+Image


  1. Oh I hate how this makes me feel. I don’t support drunk driving (although as most others I’ve been guilty of it) yet I don’t know if I want her to get caught or not. Her luck has been rotten, and a night in jail is not what she needs right now. What are you hoping happens? Or did you conveniently end it hanging so you wouldn’t have to choose? That’s what I always do… writing the novel forced me to not do that anymore. Ha!

    • Maybe she can talk her way out of it!?! As usual, it’s based on some truth from living somewhere (like Michelle) with nothing much else to do. It’s so easy to end up in not-so-smart situations, which can happen to anyone. Many of us were very lucky to not get busted.

  2. Ack! I relate entirely too well to Michelle. She’s just doing her best to withstand the unremitting bleakness, and boom. Busted. 😦

    You made us feel it, though – which is the whole point – so, good job!

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