Camp Of No Return

By James Tate

I sat in the old tree swing without swinging. My loafer had fallen off and I left it
on the ground. My sister came running out of the house to tell me something.
She said, ‘I’m going to camp tomorrow.’ I said, ‘I don’t believe you,’ She said, ‘I
am. It’s a fact. Mother told me.’ We didn’t speak for the rest of the day. I was
mad at her for getting to do something I didn’t. At dinner I asked mother what
kind of camp it was. She said, ‘Oh, just a camp like any other.’ I didn’t really
know what that meant. The next day they got her ready to go, and then they
drove off, leaving me with the neighbors. When they got back everything was
normal, except I missed Maisie. And I missed her more each following day. I
didn’t know how much she had meant to me before. I asked my parents over and
over how much longer it would be. All they said was soon. I told some kids at
school how long my sister had been gone. One of them said, ‘She’ll never be
back. That’s the death camp.’ When I got home I told my parents what that boy
had said. ‘He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,’ my father said. But after a
couple of more weeks of her absence I began to wonder. That’s when they began
to clean out Maisie’s room. I said, ‘What are you doing? ‘ You said Maise will be
back soon.’ My mother said, ‘Maisie’s not coming back. She likes it there better
than she does here.’ ‘That’s not true. I don’t believe you,’ I said. My father gave
me a look that let me know I might be next if I didn’t mend my ways. I never
said a word about Maisie again.

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