James Tate

8 December 1943 - / Kansas City, Missouri

Camp Of No Return

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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