Cigarette smoke billowed and followed AC drafts from the ceiling above, searing the eyes of children and seniors alike. Whirling electronic sounds escaped the murmuring machines, as teenagers to the next lane appeared to be having the time of their lives—perhaps even the highlight of their lives. We devoured the pitchers of beer, to stomach the onslaught of laughter and those crackling, cacophonous sounds. Each strike, spare, or even gutter ball were announced to the lounge, as if the bowling alley had transformed into an arcade on steroids. Laughter penetrated any reflection of what had transpired two nights ago. Velda, Joshua, and his girlfriend could not help but notice my existential unease—my detachment. In that moment, I realized this could not happen to my family, rather, time and space were illusions—manmade constructs to ease the understanding of physics, to laymen and scholars alike. I felt somewhere—somehow—Ella was with me. I could still smell her locks of hair. I heard her call my name from the back of the alley. She was there. She had never truly left—or so I would not accept.
Ethereal plumes of smoke danced in circles, in and out, away from the burning end of her cigarette. Their soft outlines traced the constellations above, as to entrance and entice the coming dawn. Her fingers were numb fixtures, ignoring the falling ash—left mired in her exhaustion.
Pinks, oranges, crimsons—They all rolled along with soft clouds from the sea breeze onto the coastal water, west of the sun coast. The sun never looked so red, dangling from the twists and turns of the cumulus tower. I sat among the glitter of white sand, reflecting the dimming light. A gust caught my curls and drove effervescent foam from the water’s edge onto the sands caught by my toes. A gull flew overhead, soaring above a wave’s crest.
Mom touched the doorknob and glanced at my face. We shared the same expression of hesitant confusion. She opened the door and took a single step inside, and I followed suit.