Sara closed her eyes tight and crossed both fingers. Roll, roll, roll, roll . . . and strike. Sara uncrossed her fingers and brought her hands up to cover her eyes.
"Open your eyes, Sara," Dad said.
Sara started to peek through her fingers, preparing herself for the inevitable count. Her bowling attempts usually ended with her father's countdown: "One, two, three, four, five pins left standing" he would say with disappointment. Not today. Today, Sara looked up to see not a single pin standing at the end of the long stretch of wood. Amazed, Sara started to squeal with excitement, but stopped herself.
"I can't believe it," Dad said.
"Yeah, who knew?"
"Gotta be some birthday luck."
"Sure, Dad, birthday luck. Your turn."
Sara's Dad, a lifelong bowler attempting to break into the pro circuit, picked up his custom ball, ran his cloth along the surface, and carefully slid his fingers inside the holes. He stepped forward, adjusting his stance, took three quick steps and performed his practiced throw. The ball slid down the lane, curving just right as it cleared the middle. As it neared the pins, the ball veered just right of center, tumbling only five of the ten pins.
"Piece of crap," Dad said under his breath.
Sara rolled her eyes and waited for Dad to get the spare, which he almost always did. Dad waited impatiently for the ball to come rolling out of the chute. When it finally did, he snatched it up quick and rushed into his "perfect" form, the ball rolling down the lane, curving to the right again, and missing three of the five left standing.
Dad said nothing.
Sara picked up her custom pink ball, a gift for her birthday, and waited for the pinsetter to right the fallen pins. When it was ready, she held her breath, walked slowly up to the foul line, swung the ball far back behind her, and just let it fall towards the lane.
"No, no, no, Sara. How many times have I told you about your form. If you want to make it pro one day, you've got to keep that form," Dad said.
"Whatever," Sara mumbled.
One, two, three . . . Sara started counting as the ball made its way down the lane. Strike.
"What?" Dad said.
"What? Sara said.
The weekly bowling session went on as such: Sara strike. Dad spare. Sara strike. Dad spare. Sara strike . . .
Happy Birthday Sara told herself, I'd rather be at the skating rink across the street.
Finally, when the points were tallied, it was Sara 300 and Dad 210.
"Well, happy 10th birthday little one. At this rate you'll be on the circuit before I am," Dad said.
"Yeah, just what I always wanted," Sara said as she packed her new pink shoes and her new pink ball in her new pink bowling bag. At least he got the color right.
The pair walked to the car in the bright April sun, Dad slumping a little more than usual, Sara looking longingly at the skating rink across the way.
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