A journal of narrative writing.
Bowling Shoe Diaries
Page 4

You kneel back beside the bed and look at Kelsey, at the body she leaves behind. In the light from outside, she's a sleeping beauty, she really is. The light makes a glass coffin around her, and she waits. Will she get older, waiting for someone to kiss her?

"Hey, can you help me with this?" Rachel asks from the doorway. You turn to see her back, loosely crisscrossed with thin cotton straps. "I thought I could get it myself, but I need a hand."

"Sure," you say, and walk over to where she's fumbling with a midnight blue bustier. She's holding the front of it up with one hand while the other fumbles with the ties. You take the tie from her hand and cinch it tighter. You can see every one of Rachel's vertebrae, except for one and half of another poking through the black cotton of her bra. You slide the tie through one hole, and pull.

"Ouch," Rachel pulls away from you a little. "Does it have to be so tight." She's got the skate key in her mouth, really working it over with her teeth so that her speech is garbled like a TV detective.

"Oh yeah, it's gotta be tight if it's gonna look good.” You're making good progress now, lacing up the bustier, and Rachel's holding up her hair from the back so that it won't get in your way, but that's just silly. Her hair is cut in a long bob, and when her muscles bunch up they expose strong, broad shoulders. You look over them, past her jaw muscles sliding over each other as she chews the key, and look out the kitchen window.

"All finished," you say, and when Rachel lets out her breath you tug one last time and tie a bow at the top, to punctuate the space you’d like to fill by asking where she’s been, where she left her t-shirt.

"Thanks," Rachel says, turning to face you and smoothing the bustier down over her stomach. "I should really take you back to the bowling alley, huh?"

"Yeah," you say, as if you've forgotten up till now. "What time is it?"

"I don't know. It must be right around six. I'm supposed to meet Michael at the art walk, so we'd better hurry." Rachel starts to walk out through the living room, then doubles back to blow a kiss at Kelsey and promise she'll see her tomorrow. "David!" she shouts up the stairs. "I left the crawfish pot down here. Tell Molly to call me if she has any questions. See you both tomorrow." And just like that, the two of you are out of the house.

"How long have you and David, you know?” you ask as Rachel pulls out of the driveway. It’s a dangerous question, because it’s not so dark you can’t see her face and you’d know if she was lying. She can see you, too.

“It feels like forever. Kelsey’s been like this for what, eight months,” Rachel says, without telling why she relates Kelsey’s accident to her affair with David. You can think of too many possibilities, and hate each one. Rachel drives past the turn that would lead to Curtis’ grandmother’s house. “It’s never been serious,” she says and tugs on the string around her neck till the skate key pops free. “Damn thing was digging into my boob.”

“What’s up with the skate key? Is it sort of a Cinderella thing? Girl seeking: emo boy with neck beard and a killer pair of size twelve skates.”

“No. I just found this thing going through some boxes at my dad’s place.” The two of you have caught up to the traffic now, lined twelve cars deep at the intersection of Camellia and Johnston. “It reminded me of what it used to be like, when going to the end of the block felt like leaving home. Being free, but like you could go back at any time. You know?”

“Fuck yeah,” you say. The traffic on Johnston St. is so backed up you can’t even see the traffic light somewhere over the rise. Rachel’s car idles, and people in cars on either side of you sing along with their radios.

“Hey, I filched an extra cigarette from David. Told him he owed me.” Rachel fishes in her shirt, and pulls a slightly bent cigarette from her bra. “If he only knew, right?” She looks at you with her crooked smile, and you giggle as she straightens it between her fingers. When she pops the lighter into the dash, you roll down your window and lean out a little.

Cue sunset music and ride into it: But the sky remains obstinately bright, and people go on singing to themselves, not paying any attention to anything on the road before them or behind. You and Rachel pass the cigarette back and forth and Rachel speeds forward, past the daiquiri barn and the empty super store parking lot.

And there it is, over the bluff and just past the Coulee, the parking lot for the bowling alley. Inside, we're a skeleton crew, the die-hards and those who need a ride out of there. It's just Michelle, and Phil, and me and Dana at this point, Leslie and Kevin gone after the first game, and Ally hanging around for the first few frames of the second, but gone soon after. We're standing diminished in our stocking feet, except for Phil, who is barefoot and holding his sandals by their t-strap, when you walk back in, gone for who knows how long. An hour, maybe more. You're walking a little unsteady. "How'd you bowl?" you ask, as chipper as you can.

"Great. Right, Phil? Almost a perfect game, the first time.” I want to break my promise to give you all the space you want: “What's been going on outside all this time?"

"Nothing," you say.

"I know what you mean," I say.