The ball whirled down the lane, marbled pink rotating toward the waiting pins. I held my breath. Please, I thought. No, I thought, as the ball’s angle shifted from parallel to the gutter to inching toward it. I was spared, this time, not spared as in a spare, that would have been cool, but spared from the humiliation of another gutterball. My pink 8-pounder knocked into the far right pin, which dominoed into the pin next to it. Two pins down. Better than nothing.
I rubbed my bicep, sore from the morning class at the gym. I’d overdone it on the medicine ball slams, picturing his face on the ground, motivating me to slam the ball hard, harder, hardest, until I feared it would pop.
My pink ball popped out of the return. I stuck my fingers and thumb inside, wondering if I should have chosen something heavier. The old guy at the desk practically insisted I use this one, one of many they kept around “for the ladies.” But I’ve been working out. I can do push-ups, 15, and five pull-ups on my better days. I launched the ball down the lane, imagining that something heavier would better stay the course.
It was my fault. It was my fault. It was my fault. I’d been daydreaming of love for months, was primed to crush on the first guy who feigned interest in me. The fact that he happened to be entirely full of shit was a risk I should have better assessed. He talked up my wit, my popularity. That second one should have clued me in that I was about to get involved with a guy who’d fuck anyone vertical and breathing with more than four friends on Facebook.
So it goes. And there went my ball, truer than I expected, smashing into the remaining pins so hard they flew. A spare. I whooped, I’m slightly embarrassed to say. Threw my shoulders back, grin twisting my face, bowling shoes an inch above the ground.
That’s when he caught my eye. He raised his pint at me. Nice, he mouthed. I curtsied back, my success making me magnanimous. He was lucky. A gutterball and I would’ve smashed his perfect smile into bits. That pretty pink marbled 8-pounder would have been just the thing.