Missing Bowlers

I am a big ugly girl. Many times boys approach me an tell me that they think I have bigger arms than they do. It may be an insult to me, but they seem embarrassed after the words have a chance to hang in the air.

I live in a project on the west side of town. On Saturday, 4:30 pm I go over to Bossen to bowl. It’s a five mile walk. One cold fall day I looked through the trees and saw the lake. I decided to try taking the shortcut across the ice. I use the water tower to aim where I wanna go. It only takes 20 minutes to get to the Bossen Bowling Experience.

I told everyone at the lane, and for the next week I talked it up at home. Soon I was leading my friends on the walk. All winter we enjoyed the Big Sky out on the lake. The booming sound the ice would make as it cracked on sunny days was scary.

One day in March, we all started across the ice. There were puddles on top of the ice, it had been raining that morning. We had our rubber boots and it was a bright day, so we were in mind for a little adventure. Jolene started telling one of her jokes and we were giggling and sloshing along at a good clip. The ice began to bend and ripple as we progressed. I smelled that something was wrong, just wanted to get off the lake as soon as possible. Looked all around to see where the closest shore was. Then it gave way and we were all in the drink.

There was a large hole above me, and the surface was cracked apart. I had released my bowling ball at the first shock of cold water and kicked hard to swim up. Everyone was going the same way. Everyone was trying to climb back up on the thin ledge of ice. Panic and survival instinct made them scream and claw toward that ledge simultaneously. It was breaking up more.

I kicked off by boots and tried the edge that was facing the point. My arms buoyed me up like water wings and I could hook my legs up first. The ice continued to crack as I snaked along on my belly. It was like swimming, worming along in puddles of slush. It took a long time to reach the point, I was crawling and crying in frustration and fear, my clothes were so heavy and stiff.

I lost my closest friends that day, but we are still walking on the thin ice of a failing economy. Only luck and a pair of fat arms saved me that day. I had to let go of my beloved bowling ball to survive. I started reading books and studying hard. I know that an education is going to be like my arms someday. Young adults are particularly vulnerable to hard times.

Moonflowers knows that these days a significant percentage of teenagers are engaging in sexual activity. There are moral, social, economic prohibitions on contraceptives. In fact, coerced pregnancy and childbearing is widespread. Everywhere, young women are faced with a mix of government policies, cultural traditions and economic pressures that conspire to make pregnancy and motherhood mandatory.

Teenage childbearing has enormous consequences. It limits educational opportunities, thereby reinforcing the low status of women, and the poor children that live with them.

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