The Lanes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

We are the only ones on the lanes; behind us, a family is having a pathetic excuse for a birthday party. Sydnie is using the bathroom for the millionth time. I smile at Hannah.

“Fake names. You’re Nancy Lancaster, right? Maybe I’ll play as Ms. Dena St. James,” I say.

“God, Dena would suck at bowling.” Her voice is deep, sure, always with a hint of laughter. I get a vision of our alter egos, Zella and Dena, aging, Botoxed but always classy ladies we created one day, and my smile grows wider.

“Oh, wait, I’m definitely going with Gidget.”

Sydnie comes back and decides to be Dakota Moss, then proceeds to do a strikingly good impression of Lindsay Lohan in the so-awful-it’s-good-again movie “I Know Who Killed Me.” The stripper-Lohan impression ends with us laughing so hard we’re gasping for air.

After we compose ourselves, Hannah and Sydnie get three neon-pink eight-pound balls as I put on shoes that are like prostitutes – enjoyed for an hour and then discarded.

I stare at the motley crew of workers, curious about their lives, their friends. I wonder if they love anyone as much as I love my friends. Do they have people they love so much that every time they remember that it will end soon it feels as though their chest is caving in? Do they have people whom they literally don’t know how to live without?

I am pulled out of my reverie when my friends return with the tacky balls, bubbles of their laughter floating over me. They point at the screen and inform me that I am up first.

“I could not be any worse at bowling,” I chuckle, after I throw my second gutter ball.

Hannah starts in with her psycho-babble crap about how the brain controls the bod and if I believe I am good at something, then I will be. Her eyes glow with optimism, as always; her voice is half laughing, half Tony Robbins, as always. I scoff, as always. But I totally try it, as always, because after 16 years of friendship (we met as infants and I apparently stole her shovel), I trust her more than anyone. I go from gutter balls to knocking down nine pins. Then she smugly continues on about the wonders of the mind, citing examples, many of which I know she is making up, a habit she has had since we were two.

Sydnie is amazed and laughing loudly, as always. She’s a force, always has been, always will be. Even in her darkest moments, her bad, self-destructive moments, she is strong and hilarious. Sydnie and I make faces at each other while Hannah says the winner of this incredibly competitive game has to buy lunch.

I wonder if they can feel it too, that every laugh has a little more urgency than before. That every get-together needs to be cherished a little more. Do they feel that excited-guilty feeling as well? Thankfully their laughter brings me back, as always.

They tell me I am up and I look down the lane. Those pins are a long way off … They cheer for me, and a smile graces my lips. I toss the ball – it gracefully rolls down the long, smooth path and knocks down all the pins. Getting a strike isn’t so hard.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the June 2008 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.

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~*The-Broken-Hearted-Girl*~ said...
Aug. 26, 2009 at 7:55 pm
awesome. :)
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