We had snuck into one of the unfinished houses on the newer side of the neighborhood. A few years ago my dad and his partners at his contracting firm decided to buy the land behind neighborhood and make it an extension of the existing neighborhood. It was a great idea, but three weeks after the completion of the framework, construction was halted. The contracting firm declared bankruptcy and began laying off thousands off workers, my dad included.
Those abandoned houses, the wood not even a year old was already rotting, the elements had taken there toll. Those beautiful houses were our playground that summer. That night in particular though, I remember like it was yesterday. It was hot, so hot every time you took a breath it was like there was a brick on your chest making it a little more difficult to breathe in and out. The humidity, causing our hair to poof out and stick to our necks, was unbearable. Sweat coated our skin until there was enough to form a droplet that would run down the side of your face or down the back of your leg. The moon was so big that summer, I could have sworn that someone had tied a rope around it and pulled it closer to us. The only light we had was the light off the candles Joan had stolen from her mothers dining room. We were all sitting in a circle around the candle, all six of us, wearing gym shorts and bathing suit tops with skimpy tank tops, and baseball hats passing around a bottle of peach schnapps Jack had gotten from his grandpa at Christmas time (although his mom never knew about this gift; "a real gift for a real man" I believe were the exact words that were exchanged about the sweet liquor). That night, I remember a feeling more so than anything else that night, a feeling that when I looked around that room in that half built, half rotted abandoned house and looking into the sweaty, summer stained faces of those five other sixteen year olds, I was looking into the faces of my family. My family, who knew every little detail about my life, who made up my life, and that summer would change it forever.
My dad hadn't had steady work in over a year so my mom had gone back to work as a nurse just until dad could get a shoe back in at the firm. Lina's parents owned three used car lots and were feeling the pressure as well. Jack's dad lived in California and still liked to tag the ends of his sentences with "bro" and "gnarly" and sent a birthday card once a year, but Jack's step dad was the guy who worked down town in one of those really tall buildings, he wore a suit and drove a sedan and seemed to always be waiting for a conference call. Jack's mom enjoyed days by self medicating in the kitchen and having a glass of wine while watching General Hospital at three in the afternoon. Jack's mom seems like she should be older, but she's only 38, a teen parent: 18 to 30 in nine months as she likes to remind herself. Joan is our bi-lingual genius. Her parents were born and raised in Germany, her dad was a co-founder of a huge software company over there but decided to sell his shares and move to suburbia with his wife. They live comfortably and neither have to work, but since they moved here and they got sucked into the American tradition of crime shows they are so paranoid whenever I sleep over I'm afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night for fear of some unseen booby trap that will cut off all my toes and blind me with poisonous gas.