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  • I had planned to spend the last day in Ohio with my friends before my family moved out to Maryland as any other 12 year old boy would- Guitar Hero, Halo 3, and some outdoor fun. But instead, I received a particularly impatient call from Addison. “The shelter is ruined,” Addison frantically scrambled for words. “I- I don’t know who did it, but we lost all of the foundation.” My body froze. It had taken us months to gather enough sticks and logs to build the wooden hut-headquarter for our adventure club, and in one night it toppled? No way. I had tied bundles of ropes, stuck rolls of duct tape, and entrenched the hut walls deep beneath the ground to make sure the hut could withstand many storms to come. “I’ll be down there in a minute,” I replied as I made my way down into the woods below the apartment complex. So much for planned activities.

    The sight was disastrous. Somebody had trashed the vicinity with cigarette butts and shattered beer bottles. The interior was filled with odors of doritos and alcohol. Addison arrived about five minutes later with Tyler, and the three of us stared at the mess. I found myself unable to raise up our morale, or even speak. Silence engulfed the woods as the remains of the hut stared back at us and pleaded to be put out of its misery. But is it really worth it to painstakingly repair the hut on the last day in Ohio?

    “Well, better get started again,” said Tyler, abruptly interrupting my thoughts. “Trust me, those high schoolers won’t think to come here again.”

    “I’m moving out to Maryland tomorrow, remember?” I dreadfully pointed out.

    “Yeah…” Said Tyler.

    Tyler, who usually radiates with youthful energy, dragged his feet across the mud as if he suddenly aged 30 years. He searched my face for answers, but I had none. I did not feel like my usual self, but as team captain of the club, I had to put my foot down and make an attempt to boost morale.

    “Hey, we’ll just work super hard to get the hut done and still have plenty of time left.”

    Addison softly chuckled and shook his head- he never had much to say but his gesture suggested that I give up. I angrily stared straight at Addison, but his usual jitter twitched him away from eye contact. He let out a forced sigh and inched over to Tyler. As much as I wanted to play with these guys today, at that moment, my urge to keep our legacy became stronger. I grabbed some twigs and leaves and got down to work. Before long, Addison and Tyler helped, too.

    We went down to the river to retrieve new logs and made our way back to the hut in 15 minutes. I signaled at them to move faster only to see empty expressions staring back at me. All was futile. They knew it, but I refused to accept it.

    Meanwhile, I scavenged the area to get more leaves to camouflage the shelter. I started to lose hope again at the sight of the mess, and wondered how I was going to fix this when I heard them approaching in a distance.

    “You think Jay will ever come back from Maryland to visit us?” asked Tyler with his shoulders cocked to carry the log.

    “ He better come back.”

    “Why would he? There are beaches and fresh crabs up there in Maryland. It’s boring as hell down here.”

    “Because we’re here,” Addison proclaimed, immediately followed by surprise that he spoke so loudly. I pretended that I didn’t hear them as I made my way over to help. When I took the leaves from Addison, I got a glimpse of the look in his eyes similar to that of a lonely child. A child that is about to lose his best friend. Nevertheless I remained convinced that we could finish in time.

    Hours went by and the sun set with only one and a half wall repaired. We were sweaty, broken, and tired. I started to choke as I reflected on what a waste of time it had been. I should’ve just ignored the hut and moved on. I waited patiently for my emotions to settle before speaking. “Sorry guys, it seems like you have to complete this without me.” The familiar silence came back, but this time it manifested itself as defeat. We all sat down, unsure what to say.

    Tyler, somehow able to read me clearly now, reassured me by saying “Don’t worry boss, we’ll get it done.” Addison then comforted me with a reassuring nod when I suddenly felt a wave of emotions crashing on me. But I could not bare to cry in front of them, so I glanced up at the sky to avoid eye contact. With tears forming, I clenched my teeth and watched quietly, hoping they didn’t see me.

    I remembered the sky seemed particularly vast that night with so many stars brightly lit as I thought about how fortunate it was for me to be able to call these goons friends. I had many thoughts since that night, but they all boiled down to the same thing as the writer of the movie Stand by Me had put it, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.” I laughed at my luck for being unable to see this sky with them before, but thinking in retrospect, I suppose it was a good way to end the final night.
    My dad called me moments later telling me I had to go home. I got up slowly and marched uphill to my apartment. “I’ll look for you guys if I come back to Ohio,” I said.

    “You better,” Addison replied.

    When I got to the top of the hill, I looked back at the two of them in a faintly lit street light in the middle of a desolate parking lot. The ocean of dark trees behind them seemed to drown the small apartment complex as the two of them waved goodbye.
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