I was the one who noticed first. I couldn’t find my favorite light blue t-shirt, the soft one I loved that had been washed a hundred times.
“Jamie, did you see my blue t-shirt?”
“No, but I’m sure you’ll find it,” she said.
I was bemoaning my missing shirt. Where had I put it? I was mad at myself for losing it.
Then Jamie said, “I can’t find my blue jeans. I only brought one pair.” She was tossing things out of her suitcase onto the floor as she spoke.
I walked over to Jamie and together we stared into her bag. “My jeans were right here. I saw them last night,” she said. We looked at each other, not knowing what to think. We knew everybody who had come in here.
Then Kristen opened the door, startling us. “I forgot my sweatshirt. It’s freezing out.
“Hey, where is it? It was on the hook right here last night.”
“We’re missing stuff, too, Kristen,” Jamie said, and looked out the window at the lake, as if it could tell her what was happening.
If this is a joke, I thought to myself, it isn’t funny.
The next minute we were down on the floor looking under bunk beds, behind bunk beds, in drawers, drawers that weren’t ours. We felt uncomfortable, but we did it anyway. Suddenly, Kristen piped up, “Oh, my gosh, my sweatshirt is in Tori’s trunk.”
“What?” Jamie and I said in unison. Kristen opened the trunk wide for us to see. There was our missing stuff, and other bunkmates’ stuff as well. It was all just crammed into there. It was creepy how much of our stuff was in Tori’s trunk.
The three of us stared at each other, speechless and scared. “Tori’s so weird,” Kristen blurted out. She’s so mean.”
“I never liked her,” Jamie said.
“Me either. What do we do?” We kept looking at each other. It seemed like time was frozen in that cold cabin.
“We ask her why,” I said.
We then went about our business, getting ready for breakfast. Not knowing what to say to one another. We knew that something was wrong with Tori, we just didn’t know what. We were trying to process the all of it. It was the 1970’s; we were twelve years old. People didn’t run around labeling people as mentally ill back then. We’d never heard this term.
Tori came into the cabin, oblivious to the fact that we were staring at her. She did not say hi.
“Why did you do it?” Jamie asked her.
“Do what?” Tori said, brushing aside her straight black bangs.
“You know, take our things?”
All I remember is Tori blushing a little bit and looking down with a smirk. There was no apology. She grabbed a small notebook off the bureau she shared with me and walked back out the screen door.
We all stood there silently for a long time. I remember getting goose bumps.
Then the three of us made our way toward the mess hall. Glad to have breakfast. Hoping to forget things.
Looking back at it, I think that Tori was a kleptomaniac.
We didn’t turn her in or tell any of the counselors.
Looking back, we probably didn’t do her any favors by keeping silent. But we were only twelve years old, and we didn’t know what to say, or how to say it. Something had shifted in all of us. We were approaching adulthood. The tide was coming in.