My family has this summer tradition where we rent a houseboat and live in it for three months. The boat lives off a dock on Crawdad Lake, located in the middle of a little town called Isadora, about three hours from our hometown. This was fun when I was growing up; we would go fishing and exploring, dive into the water and snorkel around. But now I’m 17 years old, can barely fit in the twin bed designed for children aged 6-10 and I have to share a tiny space for 90 days with my parents and little brother. What’s worse is all the water in the lake has been dried up for four years and there is virtually nothing to do here anymore.
Isadora used to be a tourist town. It used to be filled with little shops and restaurants, my favorite of which was a little sandwich bar that had everything a boy could dream up. We used to get massive sandwiches then eat them on the shore, the sun in our eyes and our stomaches as full as can be.
Crawdad Lake was a beautiful until it wasn’t. Now it’s miles and miles of dirt, a big hole with nothing in it but rocks and the carcasses of dead lake animals. The boat literally lives on a pitiful pile of dirt and rocks.
The first year the lake dried out, everyone behaved as if nothing changed. But playing pretend can only last for so long, and all the businesses ended up either moving locations or closing for good. Residents of Isadora packed up their bags and moved away. Longtime tourists stopped visiting, and the landlords who relied on tourism ended up foreclosing.
In the blink of an eye, Isadora was a ghost town and not even that could change my parents’ mind about living in this awful boat. All I wanted to do today was stay in bed. I downloaded a few movies on my iPod before we left for the trip, so I was craving to be underneath the fan with some of my favorite actors. But of course, today is the day my little brother decides he wants to explore the lake and find “lake monsters” (his words, not mine). Since my parents don’t wanna take him, I’m stuck babysitting and now we’re riding our bikes across Crawdad Lake under the baking hot sun in search of things that don’t exist.