Marna tucks the back of Steve’s shirt in before they leave. He’s missed a belt loop in the back, but she doesn’t say. His hair smells dirty, but she doesn’t say. Her daughter threatens to take her keys, but Marna shrugs and drives anyway. “It’s light out,” she snaps back. Her daughter thinks she’s as slow inside as she is outside, but Marna is quick.
Steve’s left hearing aid needs a new battery so Marna doesn’t bother speaking to him. They bring their own shoes. They use the same bowling balls from their couples’ league in the 80s. Steve polishes them on Sundays. They’re older than their hips. Their hips are brand new.
Marna watches Steve shuffle toward the foul line. The momentum unsteadies his body, and he nearly falls but doesn’t.
He curses himself when he misses the spare.
“You’ll break your new hip,” Marna barks, but he doesn’t hear.
They play on two lanes, non-competitively. The machines keep score for them. They’ll play until Steve’s legs give and her arthritic fingers start to ache. She’ll argue with the attendant to prorate the day’s last game.
Everyone says she’s lucky. Lucky she’s in good health. Lucky she still has her husband.
Statistically, she should have had two decades to herself by now. Steve never exercised a lick. Smoker all his life. The nerve of that man.
Next lane over, a woman holds her baby on her knee as her boy lobs a ball in the air like a baseball. The ball smacks the lane hard and the baby cries out. Marna smiles at the chubby little girl, but only to keep her from crying. Babies don’t belong in bowling alleys.
“Son of a bitch!” Marna yells.
The mother in the next lane gives her a look.
See? she thinks.
Angela Palm is the author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here and winner of the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. She edited the anthology, Please Do Not Remove, a collection of prose and poetry that celebrates libraries and Vermont writers. Palm’s writing has appeared in Ecotone, Brevity, DIAGRAM, Essay Daily, Paper Darts, Midwestern Gothic, and elsewhere. She lives in Vermont.