We sat among empty beer cans, broken bottles, and cigarette butts in the small clearing. The night was sweltering. Our shirts, sopping wet with sweat, clung to our backs. A cloud of sticky smoke rose above us and slunk through the thin canopy of stray branches overhead. We coughed loudly with every exhalation underneath the full August moon while laughing at nothing at all.
We talked and joked with one another, spread rumors, and swapped horror stories of sexual conquests gone wrong. So far, they had all gone wrong for all three of us. We were still young, still inexperienced in the ways of women, still light years away from even the remotest understanding of the mysteries hidden in blessedly comforting curves.
The camping lantern shed an artificial glow on all of our faces, casting shadows where none yet belonged, giving us each a glimpse of how the other might look after the years wore down on us, and we became mere ghosts of the people we were that day. We were still healthy then, still blind, still smiling.
We knew the world moved on around us. We heard the low hum of cars on the freeway a half mile through the brush to our east. Airplanes flew overhead, red and green lights flashing. A train whistled as it rode through what would be an empty intersection at this time at night in this part of the world.
Life was moving, but we were stationary, lost in our smoke, sipping warm beer, and we stayed there a while longer, laughing at nothing at all.