“What are you doing in here? Come on, Pumpkin, I even made dinner so we could all eat together before I have to go work the night shift.” Dad opened the door and poked his head in. “Clark even said that he’d come eat with us.”
“One second Dad, I’ll be down in a few minutes.”
He nodded with a sly grin, like he knew who was on the phone. He thought it was Josh. Nope, Josh was hanging out with his friends. Of course he had been a gentleman and had invited me to hang out again, watch him play poker and all, but I still felt bad about leaving my family for two days.
“That your Dad?” Carly asked.
“Yep.” I replied as he ducked back out of the door.
“Continue with your story!” Carly said very quickly as I could hear the equipment in her voice. She’d gotten back from Spain a few hours ago, I could hear the droopiness sinking through her voice as she tried to push it back.
“Where did I leave off?”
“The stars!” It was like she had written down every detail I had said.
“Oh right,” I breathed, “he laid a blanket down and then we watched the stars for a while as he pointed out every single constellation that he could think of. I tried to help with the stories, but you know that I never really paid attention to Mr. Grimpson when he would talk about them!”
“Did he kiss you goodnight when he dropped you off at his house?” Okay, so now Carly was just concerned about when and for how long I had kissed him. I rolled my eyes, if only she could see, and tried to continue with my voice cracking.
Breathing out, I let out all worries that she might judge me for spending the night. “I actually didn’t go home.”
“You stayed outside all night?” She shrieked. “How romantic!”
“No, Carly. I didn’t stay outside all night. Clark was yelling at me, Owen was coming home, and Dad was being his drunken self. Josh said I could stay at his house whenever I wanted to or needed to.”
“You didn’t!” She didn’t say it like she was mad at me, more that she really couldn't believe it. I had always been kind of the safe child while she was wild and crazy.
“Yea, but nothing happened!” I replied quickly. “I just fell asleep on his chest. His mom walked in during the morning, though! It was kind of embarrassing, but she didn’t even seem to care, and Josh thought it was pretty fun. But seriously Carly, I really like Josh. This isn’t like my fling with Collin or anything. This is real.”
“From the way you talk about him, it sounds like you idolize that boy.”
“He’s perfect.” I whispered as she yawned. “Sweetie, go to bed. Call me tomorrow or something.”
She yawned again. “If you don’t answer your phone, should I assume that you and Josh are getting on with the dirty?” She smirked.
“Totally.” I replied sarcastically. “Goodnight!”
“Night.” Then the line went dead and I was headed downstairs, following the sweat smell of burgers and corn that were probably burning on the grill.
Clark barely looked at me, well he barely looked at anyone, not even Owen. I wanted to slap his as I sat down next to him, Clark was going to ruin everything. Finally, everyone was happy except for him. He probably even wanted to ship me back to boarding school so that I was away from everything.
Dad smiled at me every for minutes as he tried to lighten the mood, but nothing would do us any good. Everyone already knew the tension in the air. Though I didn’t have to wait long for the tension to finally get to Clark. He shoved his chair away from the table, causing it to fall backwards. His sight went from me, back to my Dad, then Owen, and then finally landed on me.
“This is damn near pathetic and ridiculous!” He said very quickly before kicking the chair and running out the garage door. The door went up and a car ran down the streets, he was most likely headed out to one of his friend’s houses. Or maybe it was just one of those nights were he would drive around aimlessly.
Dad picked up Owen’s half empty plate, my empty plate, and the full plate that used to belong to Clark before he had sprinted out.
“Now that his little temper tantrum is over, who wants to go out?” Dad picked up Owen before tossing him over his shoulder.
“Where?” I asked and put away the glasses.
“I was thinking bowling.” Dad shrugged before walking out of the door, leaving me the choice either to follow or to run along with him. After thinking about it for a minute, I finally did follow him out to the garage where he had already put Owen in the back seat.
I climbed into the passenger’s seat as Dad revved the engine.
“Owen is going to have a little trouble bowling, you know.” I replied.
“We’ll get him one of those ramps that he can push it down, but I’m sure he won’t need it. You’ve got a muscle man for a brother, you know?”
Laughing, I nodded and snuck a look back at him. The little smile couldn’t have shown any brighter as the eyes were watching every place in the car, except straight forward.
“Shea!” Owen squirmed.
“Are we there, yet?” And the journey of never ending torture and peril began. He tried to sing along to the radio, but none of the songs were one that he knew so he just continued to hum his own song that made no sense. It was pleasing, the innocent sounding voice of an unknowing child. Like a beautiful melody.
We got to the bowling alley when there were maybe four cars in the parking lot, a perfect time to arrive. They were able to get us a lane right away, though it took a little time to get Owen to tie his shoes without screwing it up a million times over again. He got the first part, but when I told him to put the bunny through the loop, he got lost. Yes, I knew that he was a little old to be tying his shoes, but we’d got him slip on shoes when he was little so he had never really learnt.
I felt so bad about everything that he probably missed when he was little. With Dad always either drunk or working and Clark not really caring, I had struggled to get Owen a social life outside of just go out to the park.
“Sweetie, like this.” I finally took his shoe and tied it up before handing him a seven pound bowling ball. It was heavy, but he could just barely manage to carry it over to the alley and chuck it towards the pins. With the bumpers, he knocked down a couple of pins and started cheering.
I was next, my shoes slipping and sliding across the carpet as I moved away from the table and picked up a ten pound ball. The weight was exactly right, easy to move back and forth in my hands, easy to throw, but the finger spots were too close together and too small. I had to squeeze my fingers into the holes and pray that they didn’t get stuck when I tried to throw the ball.
When I did, skillfully, roll the ball down the lane, it struck the center pin and blazed a trail through the center. Sure, I missed a few on the edge, but I was more than proud.
Owen clapped and Dad let out a woop that seemed to fill out the whole room.
With my second ball, I struck down the last few pins and pumped my fist into the air a few times.
“That’s my girl.” Dad cheered before he went up and threw a strike without even trying. I rolled my eyes at him.
Owen clapped even louder before running up, grabbing the fifteen pound ball and chucking it as hard as he could down the lane. It made an ear cracking sound before it slowly made its way to the corner pin and harmlessly knocked it down.
His amazement astonished me, it was glorious how he could be so oblivious to anything outside the bowling alley while it seemed like Hell was raining down on our lives. Yet, my eight year old brother didn’t even notice it. Or did he?
Was he just good enough not to even show the terror and fear in his life? I wished that I could go back and be a young child again, run around like crazy and make Clark try to catch me like he used to do. That’s when we didn’t have to worry about anything, but now it was different.
He was still chasing me, but now it was out of his life.
“You’re turn.” Owen slapped my leg to break me out of my day dream.
“Alright.” I answered and went to bowl. After my first throw, Owen looked a little disappointed. “What’s wrong, buddy?” I asked him.
“I can’t bowl like you.” He whimpered. Laughing, I picked up another bowling ball and winked at him. When I went to the lane, I sat down, put the ball in front of me, and shoved it as hard as I could towards the last three standing pins. It knocked down two of them.
Owen laughed so hard that he fell over onto his butt.
Dad smirked at me before tipping his imaginary hat to me.
I high fived my dad as he walked by to go take his turn. Dad grabbed the bowling ball, turned his back towards the pins and threw the ball between his legs. It went into the gutter almost instantaneously. Owen clapped and laughed as hard as he could.
We spent the rest of the time fooling around, not caring at all that no one had knocked down a single pin in three frames. Owen finally rejoiced when he knocked down two pins on his tenth frame. Dad stepped up, his eyes centered on the head pin. A smile ticked at his lips.
“Ready, buddy?” Dad winked at Owen.
Squealing with laughter, Owen nodded quickly before clapping his hands together.
Dad lined up and tossed the ball down the lane. It struck true, knocking down each pin one at a time.
I felt over shadowed.