12 September 2012
Every summer my family returns to our ancestral home, a place lost in northern Michigan. It’s in a community where many of the same families have lived for generation after generation. There you can find a tennis court, a basketball court, a large campsite, and a few boats that help pass long days away from Grand Rapids. This was all very enjoyable most of the time, but sometimes it got boring. Spending every summer with the same gang and doing the same things, under the same grown-ups' noses began to get dull as I grew up. By the time I was thirteen I was ready to experience a real thrill, something reckless.
One afternoon in July, I was supposed to go sailing with my best friend Drew, but the air was so thick and heavy that we decided not to go. We sat around his house all day, waiting for his brother to bring back the family power board so that we could water ski. Thinking back to that summer, I remember how frustrated and irritable we were, our pent-up energy ready to explode. We roamed his house searching for something – anything to do, but we only succeeded in making one mess after another and angering his mother. Finally we hit on something. We were eating lunch on Drew's back porch when we both noticed his father's rifle propped in a corner.
Now Drew's father had often warned us that his rifle was strictly off limits, but he wasn’t home to enforce his rules and both of our minds were already made up. The rifle itself was not very dangerous, as it was only an air gun that shot small pellets, but he was afraid of its misuse. Personally, he used it to scare off stray dogs and was usually very careful to put it away, but for some reason on that particular day he had forgotten. We decided that it would be fun to take the rifle out in the nearby woods and shoot at whatever we found there.
We had to be very careful not to be seen by the nearby residents, as they all knew us. For most...