Wednesday, August 28, 2013

White Smoke

White smoke poured from the doorway of Al's Bowling Alley as Lilly pulled open the door.  She stood a moment, letting the stench of cigarettes flood past her to dissipate into the brightness of the sun.  As Lilly stepped into the darkness of the establishment, the rumbling of pins and bowling balls set her teeth on edge and made her feet unsteady on the trembling floor.  Chester was behind the counter today, his face as haggard as the last time she was here.  He didn't even bother to ask her if she wanted to rent shoes, he just inclined his head to the right, the tip of his cigarette pointing the way.  Her eyes tearing, Lilly smiled gratefully at him and hurried past. 

She found her grandfather sitting with a group of bowlers on Lane 17.  She watched him for a moment, surrounded by a group of the men and ladies who had nothing to do all day but drink, smoke, and bowl games of ten pin until the ARC van came to pick them up.  Saul's face was alight with the energy of their interest, his smile a beacon in the grim florescent lighting as his gestures painted a picture of his words.  Lilly's heart hitched in her chest.  He looked so normal, so alive, so there, and she hated that it was all a lie.  She made her way over to the group.

"...And I was the only bowler to get a turkey that day!" he exclaimed, just as Lilly reached his side.  She smiled politely at the group; some smiled back, their faces wreathed in smoke.  Her grandfather despised the smell of cigarettes, and he had never bowled a day in his life.  But since his wife died, Saul had wandered daily down the street to the bowling alley, as if something as insubstantial as smoke could make up for a broken heart.  Lilly gently took her grandfather's hand.

"It's time to go, Grandpa."






The prompt is the third definition of the word TURKEY: three strikes in bowling.



12 comments:

  1. It's so sad, but if it the lie makes him feel alive, I'd let him have it.

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  2. Oh my, you captured that scene beautifully in all its wrenching sadness. I love the line - as if something as insubstantial as smoke could make up for a broken heart. And yet at least he's not holed up in his house giving up. Beautiful slice of 'life.'

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  3. Terrific opening line, Tina! And I love old men who lie.

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  4. Invented memories can sometimes be kind. Thanks for sharing this with us!

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  5. This is so sad yet, if by holding onto that lie made him feel and look alive, maybe it was as real as anything else we tell another. I enjoyed how descriptive this was. I could picture the person at the counter, and her spotting her grandfather. Wonderful!!!

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  6. Well done. Love how you created a link for the grandfather that never existed.

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  7. This was incredibly poignant. Oh, my heart!

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  8. What a lovely, tangible tale of grief.

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  9. Sweet little story. You pulled us into Lilly's sadness quickly, but left me with a lingering sadness for Grandpa. Getting old is hard.

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  10. oh my. so sad. :(

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