Chapter One – HARD TIMES

A Life Turned Upside Down

The story of every teenage girl begins how she thinks it should be written – but ends up how reality actually wants it written.

We used to have a nice house in the suburbs. It wasn't huge or stately, it was just that all-American sort of single family home with the two car garage everyone identifies with suburbia, Norman Rockwell and the show "The Wonder Years".

I suppose compared to the story I am about to tell you, it was "The Wonder Years", everything was easy and carefree. We were just a family of four living out the American dream.

My Dad, the kind of guy that if central casting at the Disney channel were going to call for a "Dad-type" for a new show, they'd probably send down a picture of my dad and say "Send up someone that looks and acts like this guy." Nice job as an executive doing something in an office park; home every day by 5, time to throw the football with my brother, or to push me on the swing when I was a little younger, and then dinner with the family.

My Mom, she gets told from time to time she looks like "The Mom on Everybody Loves Raymond" and who also plays the Mom on "The Middle"; that is the only reason I know the actress's name is Patricia Heaton. If I had to describe her, she looks in her middle thirties (mom would thank me for saying that), warm smile, petite build, medium length brown hair.

My brother, Conner, is a little younger than me, in middle school, kind of geeky, really interested in Pokemon cards, Nintendo DS games, and the sort of stuff typical boys are into at that age. He is a little bit of a practical joker. Often I am at the butt of his jokes, so there was a friendly little rivalry; pretty typical for brothers and sisters to have. Short spiky red hair and kind of a constant little smirk on his face, like he knows a joke you haven't heard.

I should introduce myself. My name is Ellen and I am going to be a high school sophomore after this summer is up. I have dark hair, cut in a short bob style, with very pale skin. I guess you could say I am pretty much your average teenage high school girl. I've been compared to Ellen Page before, but I don't like when people say that.

I agree we even have the same button nose, so I can't deny the resemblance – it’s just a coincidence we share the same first name.

This story might be something you have already pulled your dick out for stroking. I suppose you are wondering about my body. I've got perky little A-cup boobs but my nipples are very thick and large.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, I should begin the story with the reason for our fall from grace and subsequent move to the Buckman.

A few months ago our carefully crafted "normal" world came crashing to a halt, when my dad lost his job. The more money you make, the more money you spend they say; and despite our middle income lifestyle, we ran through our savings faster than my father hoped, while he was looking for a job in this dismal economy.

The bank, that he had our mortgage through and had been paying for over 15 years, folded; otherwise he probably could have worked with the local banker to keep things afloat a little longer. The much bigger bank that bought out that nice little suburban bank wasn't quite so patient. We thought we may end up homeless. You know we were actually lucky. I am told most people have about two weeks to a month’s work worth of savings; and live quite a bit more hand to mouth, at least we made it three or four months.

But all good things come to an end, and having very few living relatives that were willing to take in four additional mouths, the only person who would consider us was my Aunt Crystal. This was definitely not our first, second or even third choice of places we could stay at for a while

This was our ONLY choice – so in that sense it was no choice at all. It was just what we had to do and where we had to go.

My Aunt lived in a Trailer park about 80 miles away called "Buckman Acres", but some kids had vandalized the sign and changed the B to an F, so when my family drove up with all our belongings in the family car (that was scheduled to be repo'd), we thought it actually was "Fuckman Acres".

There are trailer parks all over the world; some good, some bad. This was definitely the lower income kind – the bad kind, full of rednecks and people who seemed like they would probably not ‘fit’ anywhere else. The tiny streets between trailers were narrow one-way affairs, each trailer only a few feet away from the next. We drove past the "Office", which sported a Laundromat and pool; that seemed at least kind of hopeful.

We all had this look of shock on our face, I suppose it may have been the first stage of grief. A sort of denial that this could be real, followed very quickly by the other stages. Like it or not, this is where we'd be staying and we were having a crash course on what to expect. Like explorers in a submarine, we were looking out the window in stunned disbelief at a world none of us had seen before.

Next we passed two girls, who couldn't be more than my own age. One was dressed in a cheetah print skirt, with a green tube top and high heels, sporting an oversized purse; the other a white tank top and denim fringe miniskirt. My mom and dad didn't say a word about them. My brother, who can be a bit of a jokester, broke the silence-"Hookers!!" My parents just hushed him, while scanning the park with a mixture of skepticism and pity – I could tell they were not liking this anymore than I was.

When we finally pulled up to the address of my Aunt's trailer, we weren't too shocked at the general state of disrepair of the singlewide. It was a little rusted, the windows dirty. It looked like it still had wheels attached, but the rubber had long since been overgrown with brush and ferns.

I guess it says a lot, that all of these trailers are mobile and yet the people CHOOSE not to just drive the hell out of here,” Conner joked, but it fell on deaf ears. I was about to say something about my parents letting him say ‘hell’. Conner and I tended to point out each other’s wrong doings as almost a competition – usually I had far less than he ever did and almost never did I accidentally cuss.

I found if you just get in the habit of not saying dirty words – you won’t accidentally do it. I was a little perturbed that Mom and Dad dropped their usual standards of clean language; but at the same time – Conner’s joke was kind of funny.

As we knocked on the door, I kept wondering to myself how there would be room for all of us. I hadn't seen my Aunt Crystal since several years ago around Christmas time.

I remember she had some bratty kids (who must be my cousins) missing a lot of their baby teeth, who broke a lot of my Barbies and knocked over my mom's expensive shampoo in the bathroom; and their dad was a real stickler, always yelling and stomping around.

Well a lot had changed in those years; it seemed Aunt Crystal's eldest, Savannah, had really sprouted. She was my age, but wow, she was nothing like me. Bleach blonde hair, blue eyes, curvy figure, full chest, and as for her baby teeth, she lost all those and they were replaced with very natural, straight grown-up kind of teeth.

She smiled really wide when we were at the door and let us in. If I had to say Savannah looked like anyone, I'd say Lindsay Lohan (before all the crack cocaine) when she was a teenager, full round face, long eyelashes and just a hint of freckles. I felt like a little girl compared to her, even though we had to be about the same age.

My cousin Lloyd is everything my brother is not. I think they are actually the same age, but he stands a head taller than Conner. Lloyd is handsome with chiseled abs, very outdoorsy; but not the smartest cookie, that is for sure. He was sitting without a shirt on the couch watching television when we came in, barely acknowledging us.

Lloyd has brown curly hair, sort of wild and untamed; and he shook it while eating a bowl of cereal and using a gallon jug of milk to refill it while he ate.

Apparently, the man I remembered as the "Father" from the Christmas visit, was one of a long line of boyfriends, ancient history to my Aunt.

The new one was about the same, wearing a "wife beater" tank top, drinking a beer while watching the tube as well. He introduced himself as "Ted". Ted is some kind of security guard. I was never quite sure what he does, it sounded like he is the guy who sits at the weighing station for semi-trucks and handles the weighing. Ted's dream is to one day be a police officer – I got all that later in my visit, but I thought I would set up the expectation right now of what he was like.

My first impression after he explained himself, was that he didn't tell us much about himself except what he did for a living. My theory is, (to him), being a cop was more about control, than about a career. I am told I am kind of deep; and sometimes see things in shallow people they don't even see. 

Then there is Aunt Crystal, you can tell my Aunt worked in a bar at some point, just by listening to her and looking at her. She has that whiskey voice from smoking and drinking for years- sort of husky.

She also may have had a boob job; the first thing you notice about her is those pert, straight hooters sticking right out in a brown tank top and her denim short-shorts that hug her curves. A good thing that your eye is drawn downwards like that, because her face leaves a little something to be desired. Boys will unkindly refer to this as a ‘butter face’, because everything looks good ‘but her’ face.

My mom's sister is apparently a few years older; and rough living I am told ages you. I am sure in her day, she was just as cute as her daughter Savannah.

I'd say this is all their family, but I'd be remiss without introducing their two dogs "Zeus" and "Hercules". Huge barking dogs, that for some reason they keep inside the house, instead of out; so they are upon you very quickly and wanting to sniff around in places, I'd rather they not.

"Oh how the mighty have fallen," Aunt Crystal announced to us as we stood there, shocked in her doorway out on what they called a "Deck" (more like a shoddy wooden fire hazard with a few rusty nails sticking out).

"What is that supposed to mean?" my mom asked, incredulous that this was our welcome.

"Oh nothing, jeez, can't you take a joke? C'mon on in, take a load off, crying out loud." Aunt Crystal said annoyed at being asked to clarify herself. I was told later not to call her “Aunt Crystal” – she told me it ‘Sounds like I am old- just call me Crystal or Chris.’

I should also mention that at our home we rarely had visitors –especially anyone unannounced.

My Aunt has a lot of people stop by to say Hi, apparently a lot of people are out of work in the trailer park and have free time. They seem to want to come by to shoot the breeze; all sorts of people, from all walks of life - Fat Mexican men, old ladies, skinny rednecks in huge trucks. I guess when I say "All sorts of people", I mean people who look like they live in a trailer park, to be fair.

So now you know what brought us here and, how having fallen on hard times, I came to live with my Aunt.

"Where can we put all our stuff?" my Dad asked, we'd packed all our valuables, keepsakes, computers, and clothes in the car. It was a hard process, took us hours and hours to decide what would fit in the car, and what would have to be left behind. This was agonizing to my mom and I knew her and dad had fought about the impossible situation; but ultimately she had resigned herself to take what she felt she had to have as opposed to what she would have liked to have.

I only had a few mementos, some track ribbons, my clothes and make up. My brother had a tougher time because he had all these console games and systems and electronics. Even though they are worth a lot, there was really just no way that my parents could justify bringing it all, so we donated a lot of it to Goodwill. You'd think it had broken my brother's heart, but he seemed pretty stoic about it; pointing out he had played most of the ones he had. I really do not think it dawned on him yet that he was not going to be getting new ones for a while until the family finds a way out of this financial hole they are in. I guess when he finds out there aren't going to be new ones to take their place coming as frequently, he'll miss what he gave up so easily.

"Just leave it out there for now, I'll clean some space out of the shed," Ted said blankly. We just sort of stood there on the deck way with the door open, not sure what to do next.

"Did you want the grand tour?" my Aunt said blithely as she noticed we were waiting for what we should do next. We nodded yes, with what may be considered naive enthusiasm. She just laughed and spread her arms wide indicating the living room "This is the living room....okay...that is the tour..." the Living room/kitchen was kind of a single area, and there were three bedrooms and only one bathroom – which were left off her mock ‘grand tour’.

Sleeping arrangements would be all four kids share the SMALLEST room, while my mom and dad got the second bedroom that once belonged to Savannah. Suffice to say not one of us had anything good to say about it. Especially since the room we shared had zero privacy and nothing but mattresses on the ground. I saw a little water bug dart between the sheets and squealed.

This brought a laugh to the face of Savannah and Lloyd who were obviously used to such things. "City girl’s got a lot of getting used to ‘round here."

"I didn't live in a city, it was more like a suburb," I corrected, which only brought another grin to their faces.

"Well, this ain’t Deliverance out here in the Buckman, so don't look down your nose at us like we are some sort of Country bumpkins." Savannah said in a slight sweet country accent that seemed to imply that she was in fact a bumpkin. I had never seen or heard of the movie Deliverance – but later on I found out that she meant that the Buckman wasn’t totally boondocks.

My brother for his part, parked himself on one of the closest mattresses, set down glued to his Nintendo DS – oblivious to the world as usual. The room was paneled in that fake plywood that is supposed to make you think it was made from real trees, but it is about as believable as plastic fruit.

Before I could say another word to my new "Roomies", my Dad was calling us to help get out some things from the car. My brother ignored him (nothing new there) but I came, happy for the chance to get out of the tension of my cousins just standing there staring at what they must see as a huge inconvenience

Ted had said he would help unload and make room in the shed but he had quickly forgotten his promise and was enraptured in the “Steve Wilkos Show” on TV.

"Hard times at the Fuckman," Savannah said sheepishly as I followed my father’s instructions to help out. I didn't understood what she meant, but it seemed she was sympathizing with my situation. I was trying to get a handle on my cousins – they had a streetwise savvy to them that I did not, even though they lived out in the middle of what I would call the country.

When I finished helping my mom and dad, they thanked me and I went back to my ‘room’; where the three were pretty much as I had left them.

" wanna play the game of Life?" Lloyd asked and Savannah shushed him.

"Oh, a board game? I haven't played that in years. I am not sure I even remember how,” I told them. I might as well pass the time and make friends was my first thought – even if board games held about as much interest to me as what was on the television in the living room – which is to say none at all.

"We don't follow the regular rules, we lost some of the pieces, so we kind of mixed it with some of the other board games, you'd like it," Savannah elbowed him in the ribs- in a rather overt attempt to signal him to shut up and let her do the talking. I should have been suspicious that there was something more to this game if they had to do that; but having just arrived, it never occurred to me to be skeptical.

"If Savannah doesn't want me to play, I don't mind..." I said innocently enough.

"No, I'd LOVE for y’all to play," she said with what may be considered southern belle sassy sarcasm.

"Oh, okay, it just seemed like your body language to Lloyd was saying otherwise."

"Well, I am not sure if you can handle the games we play...we can't do it until after supper when everyone is asleep, otherwise everyone can hear us..walls are paper thin."

I think by now you realize that, as a teenage girl growing up in the suburbs, my ability to see a potential problem in the making was hampered by a relative lack of experience and naiveté’. I would soon learn that I should have been skeptical, but at the time I just nodded and we waited until supper time as she had suggested.

That night we had "Cheeseburger Helper" for the very first time. I am not sure the word "Helper" is really the applicable term.

help [verb (used with object) give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need.

Hamburger Helper does none of that.

I choked it down with some sugary red Kool-aid in a plastic tumbler glass while they watched more TV, no one really saying much of anything. I don’t want you to think I am one of these people who never watches television, but they seemed obsessed with reality TV, Jerry Springer, Judge Judy and Maury Povich and that just did not speak to me at all.

It may sound like I am being critical of what they had. They offered shelter, food, and opened their home to us. This is what passed for ‘reality’ to them and, while it was a lot rougher than the comfortable life I had grown accustomed to in Cherry Lawn Estates, I was genuinely trying to make the best of it.

There were water bugs in the sinks and the shower. Their hot water heater has enough hot water for two showers, and they all take showers around the same time. So whoever goes third and after gets increasingly less hot water, to the point it's just cold. It probably goes without saying, no one made me aware of this; and while I politely waited my turn, I was quite surprised to find there to be no warm water at all – to the point of squealing.

Hopping out of my freezing cold shower had the unanticipated effect of making my nipples sprout out extra hard. You might have read my journal so far and thought ‘Why is this nice girl suddenly talking about nipples?’

It’s not like I wasn’t acutely aware that I had them – they were puffy and I had to wear training bras at an early age to hide them under my shirt, but I was well aware that the cold makes them sprout straight up.

I looked down and sort of smirked at how absurd they looked, like twin torpedos fully erect. I just grinned in the mirror as I admired them, but really thinking nothing of it any more than you might about your elbow or your thighs – just a body part. I did not over sexualize it because I had never been raised to think about it like that.

I knew boys liked to see boobs, but the idea just never crossed my mind that cold air or water on them had anything to do with arousal.

That is when I noticed that the bathroom door wasn't shut all the way. However, I distinctly remembered I shut it when I came in.

"Where are my clothes?" Hmmm, practical jokes, already? I was thinking to myself. They left me a towel though. I was a little creeped out that anyone dared to violate my privacy in the bathroom to play this joke on me. Conner and I can be a little competitive, but he didn’t dare do it – besides he would be wrapped up in his Gameboy. I assumed this must be Savannah. Which, considering I had changed in a gym before with other girls, didn’t bother me as much as the other possibility that it was Lloyd who took my clothes – I did not want to even think about it.

Not having much choice, I wrapped the towel around me to cover myself from chest to mid-thigh, and took the short walk down the hall to my room.

Opening the door, I was surprised to see my cousins and Conner had moved the mattresses to the edges of the room and were setting up a game board; that looked one part "Life", a few monopoly deeds, some part of the "Mousetrap" game, and what seemed like a hippo from the game Hungry Hungry Hippo.

"You ready ta play the game?" asked Lloyd without even commenting on my tiny towel, while I stood there in the doorway waiting for an explanation or the culmination of their practical joke.

"In a second, I wondered who took my clothes." I asked very directly. I saw no one smirk and I was starting to get worried this was no joke after all.

"Dunno," said Lloyd. If he was playing stupid he was a masterful actor. I came to realize later that Lloyd was blessed with a great body and handsome face, but he isn’t very smart.

"I had them when I went in to take a shower." I stated very bluntly – expecting a response.

"Well, they'd be dirty from the long trip. Maybe mom grabbed them for laundry?" Savannah explained without too much concern for what I thought. It seemed none of them were going to own up to a joke and I started to wonder if Savannah was telling the truth.

"Uh-okay...let me just change into my night shirt then." I stammered while I tried to process why she would come in while I was in the bathroom to get my clothes and leave me nothing to change into. Lloyd stared expectantly at me after I finished saying it. The room was small, there was no place to change in there.

I looked at him again to imply they should get out so I could change; but he stared back at me dumbfounded. I didn’t want to be impolite and just say ‘get out’ and I thought it was obvious that is what I was suggesting – I can be a little passive aggressive at times.

I awkwardly bent at the knee and picked out my bra, panties and long nightshirt from the stuff we brought in from the car.

The nightshirt read "Strawberry Shortcake" across the front, with a drawing of the cartoon character on a cloud and a unicorn. I wish it said something cool like one of the many posters that adorned their walls, "Metallica Ride the Lightning" or "Poison, every rose has it's thorn". I did not know a lot about music, other than Katy Perry and Brittany Spears, but I had heard of those bands and knew they were ‘classic rock’.

I was at that age where as a teenager I still had a lot of clothes from when I was twelve years old and this one had never seemed out of place - well until now.

"I am not sure if you thought I was changing right in front of you Lloyd, but I am going to the bathroom now," I said with a bemused look on my face as his eyes seemed to follow my every move.

"Put your tongue back in your head horn dog, that is your Cousin," Savannah chided him, with a slap to the shoulder while I left the room. I was starting to like Savannah – she seemed to be on my side.

"I knew that, I was just fucking with her, ha......but hell, it's a small room, and they don't run the A/C all the time, it's not like nothing we haven't seen before, jeez....don't get all high and mighty about it, it's gonna get real weird around here if everyone is afraid someone's peeping on them." Lloyd was right of course.

Privacy would be at a real premium. I didn't think about what he meant when he said "Peeping" or about getting weird - I didn't want to. I was just going to go change and that would be the end of it.

When I got back from the bathroom in the nightshirt, there was a bit of a snicker from my cousins. It was long and flowed down to my knees, but made me look completely out of place. My gramma had bought it for me really large when I was twelve and so it was about the right size now that I was a few years older.

I am sure, with the childish design across the front in pink and the frilly arm-lacings around the sleeves, I seemed like I was dressed like a little girl.

"Want me to put your hair in piggy tails?" smirked Savannah. I didn't reply and to his credit Conner had been with them this whole time and was still somewhat engrossed in his Gameboy. He had helped them to set up the game, but only half-heartedly; because he wanted to get back to Pokemon Black or Harvest Moon or whatever game he had in there this time.

"So we playing the game? What are the rules?" I changed the subject quickly to the board game, as proposed by my cousins, in order to take the focus off my nightgown.

The "Game of Life" as they explained to me was a mish-mosh of board games that was invented out of necessity. As kids often do, they had lost the pieces to several games and found they had put the pieces from some games in other boxes, to the point that it seemed to make sense to them to come up with a way to play the game as one big hybrid.

"Most of these we got second hand; and I think the only game we USED to play was "Throw all the pieces every fucking where!" Savannah said with a slight southern accent; while tossing some pieces for dramatic effect. She had this real southern redneck girl charm, but the accent seemed to come and go at times.

Their new, more complicated, version seemed like a game only "Rube Goldberg" could have devised. You know those contraptions that start off where you pull a string, which lifts a lever, and a bowling ball falls, setting off a chain reaction of impossibly unnecessary steps until it finally boils some tea? This was like that; except it was a game of chance, luck and strategy – but mostly luck. It is fair to say that most of the rules did not even make sense to me and many of them seemed made up as they went.

For all the game’s pointless mini side-games and rules, it basically boiled down to moving around the Game of Life game board, and taking "Chance" cards that they had homemade themselves.

I was not concerned about winning – this was just to pass the time for me and a chance to get to know them. I was bored and had nothing to do after a long ride. I did try to understand the many rules; but after getting frustrated, I stopped questioning it and just rolled with it – I did not care if I won or lost because I had no stake in the game.

I spent a good part of the game wondering about other things – worrying about them. I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like if we were living here by the time school started up again.

Lloyd was the first one to land on "Chance" and his card was "
4 noogies from the person across from you", which happened to be Conner. It had to be explained to us that a noogie is performed when the middle knuckles of the fore and middle fingers are rubbed vigorously against the surface of the scalp, stretching the skin and pulling the hair. This was actually written on the card in fine penmanship.

My brother seemed to take an actual interest in the game once he heard noogies. Apparently, he had been the recipient of a fair number of them from older boys who were bigger than him. He gingerly took Lloyd into a headlock (something he'd never have been able to do if Lloyd wasn't the one telling him to do it) and applied the noogies for what apparently passed for "4 times" but seemed like about a minute.

After a few more rolls of dice, spins of wheels and contrary seeming rules, it was Lloyd's turn to take a card.
 "Drink from toilet bowl". He said "Oh shit!!" as he read the card out in a pedantic, choppy way that told me reading wasn't one of Lloyd's favorite things. He walked into the bathroom. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I followed the others when they went after him. He gave the toilet a flush as we stood behind him while gazing down at it. Lloyd prepared himself like a daredevil getting ready to jump a tank of dangerous sharks on his motorcycle before a crowd of cheering fans.

Lloyd calmly reached in with his cupped hand and pulled back some water and drank it down.

Conner pointed out helpfully "Couldn't that water be contaminated with the cleaners that your mom uses on the toilet?"

"Uh, it could,” they chuckled, “if mom used cleaners." The cousins both laughed in response.

So far, even though we all took turns, moved our mice, spun the doohicky, the boys were the only ones landing on Chance. I started to realize this was more of a sort of convoluted truth or dare game, just without any of the truth. My cousins seemed to take the game fairly seriously. I wasn't about to announce my observations to them and try to overanalyze the game; making me seem like an even bigger nerd or stick in the mud.

Conner got another chance card, this time it was
 "Kiss the person of the opposite sex on your left"; to which there was several "ooohs", and a sigh from Savannah who was on his left.

"Lloyd, did you add this card to the game?" she glared at her brother, but didn’t seem overly worried about what she might have to do with Conner - the look on her face was annoyance.

"No, it was Shelton, he was planning to make sure you was on his left," her brother told her.

"That gross little fucker...well this is cousin rules....we shouldn't play those kind of cards," Savannah offered sanely.

"You’re saying Conner is grosser than Shelton?" Lloyd countered.

Savannah conceded his point. Apparently Shelton was one of the neighbor boys who plays this game with them. She just looked at Conner as if he was wasting her time. "Well?" she said puckering her lips, "Get it over with."

I don't think Conner had ever kissed a girl. He seemed wildly uncertain what to do. Lloyd said, "You don't know Noogies and you don't know how to kiss. What do they teach you where you come from?"

Conner gave a confident smirk "No, I know about noogies, I just never gave them before and...I just didn't realize this game went THERE, you know?” I agreed with my brother – this was weird.

"Less gabbing," Savannah said opening one of her eyes to look at him, but maintaining her pucker. "It's not gonna be a make out session, and we ain’t boyfrand and girlfrand when it’s over, neither." She purposely mispronounced 'friend' as 'frand' to emphasize her humorous taunt. When she finished, Conner leaned in and gave her a decent little kiss right on the lips. It wiped the turned up grin right off of her face – which I have to admit was kind of satisfying.

"Good, no tongue," Savannah said consoling herself while wiping her lips as if he had slobbered. I would have been horrified, traumatized, and probably needed seven doses of mouthwash; but Savannah took it like a minor annoyance.

It eventually was my turn to draw a chance card. I secretly wondered if I would be kissing Lloyd. He would be my first kiss too, just like Conner had with Savannah. I will admit I pictured it; and while he has a chiseled jaw like Ashton Kutcher, he seems about as dumb as his “That 70’s Show” character as well.

I took a deep breath and drew the card "Wear frozen underwear for 5 minutes". My cousins laughed what I would only describe as a laugh that conveys "Hahah, you just had misfortune" instead of genuine mirth. My brother, who had no idea what was going on, made the sound a video game makes when it takes your last life ‘wonk-wonk’ to signify you are done with the game.

"Uh..ick..what?" I asked, annoyed at the card I was holding in my hand. It was written in sharpie, so someone had obviously thought this dare up and added it at some point – which meant someone else had done it.

"Well princess shortcakes, you pull your panties and bra off, hand them to me, we put them in the freezer, and then in a little bit, you wear them for 5 minutes, what part don't you understand?" sneered Savannah.

"Um...why is this a fun game?" I said trying not to seem like a total prude, but not making a move to stand up or try to remove my bra or panties from under my nightshirt.

"Well, we weren't ALL born with the silver spoon up our butts the way you were. We don't have the Nintendo DS to keep us busy," she looked at both me and my brother with condescension. "We make DO...the chance cards started as something else, and over time, we add new ones.....adds a little excitement, you know adrenalin," she shook her head as if we should know this already.

"Like huffing gas out of your ATC," added Lloyd – a reference I had never heard before.

"No, NOT like huffing gas, Lloyd" Savannah corrected him. "See, that is the kind of dumb ass thing him and his friends think is fun, killing their brain huffing on gas or paint....compared to some of the stuff they do, this is high art...have you never been to a sleepover, and done a frozen bra?"

"I can't say that I have?" I said naively. I did not want to explain we made pastries, watched Dreamy Boy bands and played ‘Who is your crush’.

"I can't say that I have," she said repeating back my own words, except obviously mocking my tone and way of speaking in a way I never said it. I guess to them talking in my normal tone sounded fancy. It is probably the way an English person may sound to me with their proper and fancy words. I resolved that I would have to do my best to fit in if I was going to last the entire summer.

She told me that the cold was going to sting when I put the frozen panties and bra back on but, it thaws real fast. “It’s not a big deal. Normally you have to be the one to try to get them in the freezer, and since Mom and Ted are still up, you've got to sneak it in, or they'll bitch about getting your skeevy undies on the banquet TV dinners. So I was gonna help you and put em in for you." She made it sound like she was doing me a favor by putting my panties and bra in her freezer for me to wear. I wasn't as worldly or savvy as my cousin, but I knew that was malarkey. Then again she was most likely way craftier and I did not want to get caught sneaking them in there.

I bit my lip "Fine", standing up. I pulled my hands inside the sleeves of the night shirt and slid my panties down to my ankles, kicking them over to her; then fidgeted with my bra. "Lloyd has trouble with the snaps too," she said, eyeing the panties I wore with a grin.

"Grannie Panties," she described the panties once I pulled them off under the nightgown. They were not ‘granny panties’ either, but I suppose compared to the flimsy things she probably wore they seemed pretty conservative.

She stood up and reached through my nightshirt with a single move and unhooked the clasp, allowing the bra to unsnap and fall to the floor – so that I did not have to struggle to get it off through the nightgown. Taking my night things she disappeared down the hall, to go put them in her family freezer. This left me to wonder how, within a few hours of arriving, I had gone from having no idea about anything like this to handing over my most intimate articles of clothing in front of two boys who happen to be family members so they could be frozen?

I sat back down, taking care to sit Indian style and fold my arms in front of my chest. I was suddenly aware of how sheer the night shirt was without my underthings.

"So....should we spin the Hungry Hungry Hippopotamus or try to sink the battleship, or whatever while she is gone?" I said, hoping that when I spoke everyone would stop looking at my chest. I did not want to think they were – but I felt like they probably were.

"Just wait til she gets back," Lloyd said patiently, not removing his gaze from under my neck.

"ELLEN?" I heard my mom call me from the living room. Lloyd and Conner giggled. I was thinking I must be busted for playing this game.

I quickly ran into the living room with a slightly red tinge to my face. I was secretly preparing my excuse for playing the game. "Uh Ellen, we wanted to talk to you," my Mom said calmly – she was not mad but she wasn’t happy either.

Ted, my Aunt, my Dad were sitting on the couches in the living room. Savannah was creeping around the kitchen, and giving me a "play it cool" look.

"Ellen, my sister took your dirty laundry when you were showering, and you know what she found in it, don't you?" my mom’s tone sounded more accusatory than when she first called me in there.

I didn't have an idea of what she could be talking about. I think it was about that time it was starting to dawn on them how ridiculous I looked in the sheer nightgown, but no one said anything.

"Marijuana cigarettes....." aware of how lame that sounded my mom corrected herself and called it "Weed".

My face exploded with confusion "WHAT?" – I had never touched any drug or alcohol or even been exposed to it at any time in my life. We had been told in school assembly that anyone who used those things would probably explode or die or go to prison or something too horrible to think about. How could she suggest I had anything like that?

"Now, honey did someone give those to you?" my mom asked as the initial anger turned into concern.

Aunt Crystal piped up, "Are you trying to say one of my babies must have given it to your daughter?"

My mom looked at her sister with a look that seemed to say "Butt out" and then back to me "Honey...I have to ask -do you have on anything under that night shirt?" she changed the subject. Oh Gawd, Oh Gawd, Oh Gawd, why was this happening?

", I um, didn't bring anything extra in with me from the car, and um, when I got out of the shower, I didn't have any clean, so I um," I am a terrible liar and I start to get nervous when I backpedal an excuse – I’ve left out about a dozen ‘ums’ to spare you the awkwardness of my explanation. I could feel in that moment Uncle Ted’s eyes staring a hole in my nightgown, as all eyes were on me and my fully erect nipples poking through the material.

The sheerness of the cloth and how soft it was – had made them pert and perky and I was keenly aware of the fact they could see my nipples through the shirt, but more embarrassingly my HARD nipples.

"You aren't twelve any more, you need to be.." my mom was about to instruct me on the need to cover up my boobs. I hated the look of condemnation on her face, but I wouldn't know what it was because my eyes were directly down on the green shag carpet.

"Oh for shit's sake, Patricia," my Aunt said my mom's first name. I've not heard it in so long, I think I'd just assume my mom's name was "Mom", as funny as that sounds. "It’s Buckman. It's summer, there is no air, the girls around here, don't all wear nice form fitting, underwire bras like back where you come from. This is not a fucking big deal. Are you not going to do something about her bringing whacky tobacky in here?"

I hadn’t heard an adult use the word ‘shit’ or ‘fucking’ in my presence – possibly ever; except on the movies or comedy specials. I thought my parents would have treated her the same way they might have treated me if I said it, but they just ignored her foul language. I suppose that is how it would have to be amongst adults – that they have no control over Aunt Crystal’s vulgarities – but I expected them to at least warn her.

They did not, but I guess that makes sense – it is Aunt Crystal’s house after all.

My mom seemed to take offense to being asked the question in front of everyone and her vulgarity. I cannot underscore enough, until I got here, I thought people simply didn’t use that kind of language in front of children; and even though I am a teenager, I thought of myself as somehow insulated from it. I thought it was one of the worst things anyone could ever do – but I was quickly learning how sheltered a life I had lived in the suburbs.

"Don't undermine me in front of my daughter, we've never dealt with this issue before and I am inclined to believe Ellen," my mom fired back.

This prompted a heated discussion (one of many that would take place this summer) between the sisters, before I was dismissed back to the room. By the time I got back to my room the game board was still up. Savannah was ready for me to wear the frosty bra and panties.

I looked at her incredulously. Had they not just seen and heard this drama unfold about drugs? This was ‘game over’ folks – this is when we stop goofing around and put our heads under the pillows and blankets and wait for the summer to be over, or whatever you do when you just want to go fall in a hole and not be seen.

"You want to go back out to the kitchen and get them after all this? I am in hot water, I didn’t bring weed into the house!!" I was annoyed at the prospect that they wanted to keep playing and possibly get me in worse trouble if my parents saw her pull the panties and bra out of the freezer after I just said I had not had any to wear.

"Okay, so you want to QUIT the game when it's your turn?" Savannah said in a tone that was more a warning than a question.

"Well can we play tomorrow or something? I just don't want to get them more riled up. They are still arguing," I explained politely. My mind was really on the fact that I expected that at any minute, when my mom finished arguing with my dad and Aunt Crystal, that she may call me back out there to answer for drugs I had never seen.

"Sure, you want to leave your grundy undies in the freezer overnight. Then Ted finds them in the morning when he pulls out his Swanson breakfast, after you just told them you didn't have an extra pair?”

I was not used to a teenager calling an adult – who was possibly her parent by their first name. I guess I should not call him “Uncle Ted” either, if he isn’t really related to me.

I scrunched up my nose, and gave her point some thought. Savannah stated, "I bet Ted was looking right through that white little nightshirt of yours."

"It's pink and white, and you call your stepfather, Ted?" I did not want to answer her about retrieving the bra and panties, so I addressed how she could be on a first name basis with an adult in the house.

"He is stepfather number hundred and seventy three, or probably is. I haven't kept count. If we didn't call them by their first names, we wouldn't be able to tell which one was which - especially when she had two of them living here," Savannah said with a tone that sounded like she really could care less.

"Two step dads at once?" I hadn’t watched much of the Jerry Springer shows they liked – but that sounded like an episode in the making.

"Well, one thought he was my mom's boyfriend and his brother was just staying here in the spare room. The other brother thought he was my mom's boyfriend and he had to keep it on the hush-hush from his brother, since he had dated her first and they were all counting on his check because he had a decent job...." Savannah explained as if this all seemed perfectly normal.

Something hard, wet and cold hit me in the face. It was Lloyd out of the corner of my eye. He had thrown my frozen bra at me. "While you two LADIES," and he used the word ladies mockingly, "were jawing - I went and got the undies so we can finish."

"Fine," I said, trying to slide the cold panties up over my legs. They weren't frozen rock hard, just really, really chilly. "But can we save the game for another night, after this? It's been a long weird day," I said truthfully, as I made a face of shooting pain, while clipping my frosty bra on under my shirt. I was going to be a good sport and wear the damned things after he had gone to such trouble to get them.

"Will she get frostbite?" asked Conner very seriously looking up from his DS. Conner had only paid half attention to the game we were playing.

I was not sure if he was genuinely concerned or just being an annoying twit and asking a ridiculous question.

"No Macgruber." (No idea why they called him that, but it sounded like an insult.) "She won't get frost bite. At best - a really painfully hard titty and a frosty butt. I'll save our position," Lloyd said in what sounded like a serious tone that he was going to put the game away just where we left off.

I was quickly realizing that hard titty and frosty butt were right – they were sending shivers down my spine and giving me tingly Goosebumps.

Lloyd simply grabbed all the playing cards, pieces, dice and spinners and threw them into one of the boxes with a grin – this was his way of ‘saving our spaces’.

I laid down on my dirty mattress with my teeth chattering and the light switched off "Oh quit whining, miss priss! That was an easy one..." Savannah quipped. I made a mental note to find reasons not to play the game with the cousins when possible.

It wasn't long though before the temporary discomfort faded and the bra and panties became wet, from when they had been soaked before being put into the freezer.

That was the most awkward. I thought about kicking them off to let them dry; but I felt like maybe I was better off having them on, as gross as it felt, to have something sticky and wet around my intimate areas all night long.

In the morning, the panties and bra were just a little damp. I barely even noticed, mostly because my mom and dad were freaking out. Someone had broken into our car in the middle of the night and stolen everything out of it.

I stood outside with everyone else, once someone shouted our car was broken into. Everyone else in the trailer came out in their night clothes to survey the broken glass on our window.

"How come your dogs didn't bark? The car was right by our house," my Dad asked Ted skeptically.

"Oh should have mentioned, people break into cars all the time around here. No one leaves a stereo in their car, I guess they could see your car was loaded down with goodies and too good to be resisted," Ted explained as if this was consolation for what just happened.

"Ted, you gave a response, but you didn't ANSWER my question," my dad corrected him. " Why didn't your Dogs bark?" My dad had been a manager and was a very outgoing man, but he was not to be trifled with when he was angry.

"Well god damn, you should probably ask would I know what is on their mind? So much glass breaks here in the middle of night that I don't imagine it would shock them," Ted answered, as if he could not see why this was even a question.

We looked pretty ridiculous outside in the morning dew. My mom, dad, and brother were in their pajamas. I was in my strawberry shortcake long night shirt. Ted wore the same wife beater we saw him in and his tighty-whitey underwear. I should really say that is a loose definition because these tighty-whiteys, were more like Loosey-yellowies – LOL.

Savannah had on a black "Skynyrd" T-shirt, revealing her perfect legs that seemed to be a nice golden tan, unlike my white chicken legs. Savannah’s shirt was much shorter than my nightgown, but at least it was black and not see through. If the wind had been blowing it might have been a different story outside, but I would have gladly traded my kiddie nightgown for her t-shirt.

Lloyd only had boxers, and no shirt at all - revealing a well-defined set of abs.

All of us were in various states of undress, as we had come outside as soon as we heard the wailing and lamentations from my parents about the car – you couldn’t help but hear; as the sound travels through the walls of the trailer, “like bread through a duck’s ass’ Ted had explained at one point.

I mentioned what everyone had on except for my Aunt Crystal because, as ridiculous as what we had on in the tightly packed streets of the trailer park, she was downright scandalous to me.

My Aunt Crystal seemed to be completely oblivious to the fact she had on a lacy thong G-string with the words "Kiss me, I'm Irish" on the front -and believe me, those are small letters to say so much and cover so little! The only other thing she had on was a black lacey bra, which left little doubt that her extremely perky watermelon shaped breasts were fake.

Crystal may have been oblivious to just how much skin she was showing. And in her defense, when it was discovered our car was broken into, she probably rushed right outside without thinking to bring a cover up.

The neighbors who had heard the shouting, and certainly the males in our group, all seemed to notice. So did the women; and my mom was staring daggers at her – in part because now my younger brother Conner was getting more than an eyeful of his aunt. The cloth from her panties was completely swallowed by her butt cheeks, so that she looked completely naked from behind.

"Oh, you prude, Patricia!" Crystal waved dismissively when she realized attention was on her nearly bare body. "Take a Polaroid picture, it'll last longer," she screeched across the street three trailers down to an old man who was watching from his window. The old man quickly retreated from the window where he had been observing our family’s arrival.

Without trying to make a motion to cover herself, she turned self-satisfied and stormed back in the house leaving the rest of us outside to deal with the mess.

"That was all our stuff!" Conner I think was the first person to state the obvious after the awkward quiet subsided. The idea that all our earthly belongings were what few things we thought to bring in with us when we first arrived, had started to dawn on us as we looked at the car; now stripped not only of our stuff, but tires, stereo; everything had been removed.

My mom whispered to me casually without anyone seeing "I am glad you borrowed a bra from Savannah, we'll need to talk later," she said and I sort of smirked. "No, not that kind of a talk, now is not the time though."

Confused, I just shrugged – I was determined to try to make the best of things.