This is a short story that I originally posted earlier tonight on my Tumblr feed. It's kind of odd how this began. That feed is basically a place I write jokes, many of them pretty bad. Well, I wanted to write a Thanksgiving Joke, so I thought the Turkey in Bowling could be used when paired against the Holiday. But this piece took over.
Hope you all enjoy. Have a Happy Thanksgiving
Michelle was a single mom. She was barely keeping things together as it was. She did have a coupon for a free 20 lb bird, a sack of potatoes, an apple pie and some assorted vegetables. Her local grocery store had the same promotion they run every year, where you cash in your shopping points for various prizes. The Thanksgiving meal is one of the big ones, and she saved up for it as she did every year.
On her way to the store, a few hours before it closed for the weekend, only three days before the holiday. She saw these vets, wounded and malnourished standing outside an alms booth. She didn’t have any money to give them, but she slowed down as they were talking. It wasn’t just their stories that they were telling; instead they were universal, of people just like them, but moreover, just like anyone, anyone at all.
Michelle started crying, knowing that this could easily have been her. She couldn’t help thinking that no matter how bad she thinks she has it, there are those worse, much worse off out there, how this clichéd saying is not a cliché at all.
She bowed her head as they offered her God’s blessing. She redeemed her rewards and went out the opposite door. She kept her head down, making sure to evade these men. Eventually she made it over to her car, but the uncomfortable feeling would not dissipate let alone disappear.
On her way home, she couldn’t get these men out of her head. All those stories, all those people in their stories remained.
The next day she waited for her babysitter to stop over as she does every Monday. It was her outlet night, where her and the girls would meet for a night of bowling. She was reminding her sitter the emergency contact numbers, the sitter nodded without really listening, as they’re the same every time. But this time, Michelle had a thought, one she could not shrug off.
She was driving down the street to the alley and pulled into the parking lot where her girls were already waiting for her. She got out, hugged her friends and asked if someone could help her out.
Each girl took a container; Michelle had the largest of the bunch. They crossed the street and entered a shelter. She thought there had to be some reason that those men had told their stories the day before. That she couldn’t get them out of her mind and how it couldn’t be a mere coincidence that their shelter was across from the lanes she bowls every week.
There she met up with someone working hard. None of the ladies could believe how many people were on cots in the one section. But when they passed through into the main area, their jaws hit the floor. It seemed like hundreds of people were either sitting down with a small portion of bread and soup or in line for that precious meal.
She told the man how the story she heard the day before affected her, and presented him all the food she had and while not enough, perhaps it could help some out.
The man was ecstatic by her generosity but assured her they barely have enough hands to go around here. That there was no way they could afford to send any out looking for alms. He asked, “are you sure they said they were from here,” to which Michelle nodded and uncontrollably she welled up pretty quickly, almost simultaneously with the man thanking god and looking to the ceiling as he did so.
They walked out and as they did a young child came up to her leg, wrapped her arms around her left one and hugged her, whispering a muffled thank you.
The girls left and went across the street and bowled.
In the third game, the league had a contest every major holiday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Any one to bowl three consecutive strikes in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames, wins a monstrous bird.
What would happen was amazing. The girls were not great bowlers, Michelle in particular. But on that night, not one, not two, not three, but all four of them bowled turkeys that night.
The following evening, Michelle and her kids took the four birds with them and decided to spend the evening at the shelter, eating amongst the needful, but also to assist anyway they could. And this particular Thanksgiving, her children learned a lesson elsewhere they never could