We spent two weeks gathering supplies to build our raft. After our parents would go to sleep, we would sneak into the garbage and withdraw empty milk-jugs and two-liter soda bottles and store them in our secret stash behind a bright blue tarp, our makeshift fort, strung up between fence poles into a sort of lean-to in the backyard. When a stiff wind would come in from the valley, it would blow up and down in the air and make thick, thunderous sounds that scared the neighbor’s children in the middle of the night, but we didn’t care, we were teenagers now.
Once we’d collected an entire garbage bag full of plastic bottles and jugs, we set out to the dollar store with our saved up pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to purchase six-dollars worth of duct tape and various odds and ends, lengths of rope and the like. Then we raced back home on our bicycles and got to work.
The body of the raft would be an old, hollow door that my dad had put on the side-yard during our last remodeling effort and hadn’t yet had time to take to the city dump. It was deep chestnut in color with a wood grain printed on what seemed to be Formica or balsa-wood, though we couldn’t tell the difference, either way it was perfect for our vessel. We went to task taping all of the bottles shut, airtight, and arranged them on the bottom of the door, taping them in long, neat rows like corn in a field. Then we added another row of bottles and jugs beneath that, leaving us with a solid eight to twelve inches of flotation device below the wooden door.
“Do you really think this’ll float?” Jared asked me, as though somehow I was the ringleader, even though it was his idea all those many days ago.
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