It was the summer after our sophmore year of high school, the prime time of our adolescence, old enough to have some freedom and too young to be worrying about college applications and graduation requirements. Life was good. The six of us had always been friends I had known Lina since kindergarten and had been her neighbor for forever. Joan moved here in the fourth grade from Germany although up until then she had attended only private schools in the US. I had known Jack since birth, literally, our mothers had the same OBGYN and went into labor on the same day (I'm older by six hours). There was Ryan, the soccer player on and off the field, he was our ladies man, the charmer, Mr. dimples, whatever you want to call it when a girl just can't help but smile when she sees him. Then there's Dylan, our funny man, or at least that's what we pegged him for when he moved here in the sixth grade. He was awkward looking, he didn't really know which group he belonged to, and every emotion he felt was plastered all over his face, he couldn't internalize to save his life. But that summer, everything changed. You may have heard our story in the local paper, we even made it into national headlines as well, but we weren't front page material, I guess we never were that's what makes our story so interesting.
Every summer Lina spends two weeks in the Italian country side with her grandparents and older brother, in the week of finals I remember going to her house and finding her usually tidy room in ruins clothes strewn across the floor and dresser, finding their way to every nook and cranny in the room except for the large purple suitcase that sat on her floor at the end of her bed. We would study for our next exam, then spend the rest of the day picking out outfits and make up that she should take. It was our last day of school, I remember like it was yesterday, it was my last clear memory of all of us, all six of us, together.