Back at Dogwood, I throw open the door. Inside, something springs from the floor, taking flight. I see dark shapes at the window, hear the flap of wings.


Three of them.

Crows. I can tell by their jet-black feathers.

They fly in a frenzied group, smacking against the ceiling, squawking. One of them swoops toward me. Clawed feet skim my hair. Another heads straight for my face. Black eyes staring. Sharp beak gaping.

I drop to the floor and cover my head. The crows keep flapping. Keep squawking. Keep slamming themselves against the cabin walls. I stretch across the floor, reaching for the door, opening it wide. The movement sends the birds in the opposite direction. Toward the window, where they strike glass in a series of sickening thuds.

I crawl toward them, my right hand over my eyes, my left one slicing the air to shoo them the other way. The bracelet slides up and down my wrist. Three more birds in motion. It does the trick. One crow spies the open door and darts through it, followed immediately by another.

The third bird lets out one last squawk, its feathers brushing the ceiling. Then it, too, is gone, leaving the cabin suddenly silent.

I remain on the floor, catching my breath and calming down. I look around the cabin, making sure there’s not another bird inside waiting to attack. Not that attacking was their goal. They were just trapped and scared. I assume they came in through the window, curious and hungry. Once inside, they didn’t know how to get back out, so they panicked.

It makes sense. I’ve been there.

But then I remember the birds thudding against the glass. Such a dreadful sound. I sit up and look to the window.

It was closed the entire time.


It takes me ten minutes to gather all the feathers the crows have left behind. More than a dozen littered the floor, with more scattered along Miranda’s and Sasha’s bunks. At least there were no bird droppings to go along with the feathers. I consider that a win.

While cleaning, I try to think of ways the birds could have gotten inside even though the window was closed. Two possibilities come to mind. The first is that they came in through a hole in the roof, one tucked in a corner where it’s hard to spot. The second, more logical reason is that one of the girls left the door open and the birds flew in. Someone else came along and shut the door, not realizing they were trapping birds inside Dogwood.

But as I carry the handful of feathers behind the cabin, a third possibility enters my head—that someone caught the birds and released them inside on purpose. There were three of them, after all, echoing the number of charms on my bracelet, which are themselves symbols.

I shake my head while scattering the feathers. No, that can’t be the reason. Like the idea of being spied on in the shower, it’s too sinister to think about. Besides, who would do such a thing? And why? Just like that shadow in the shower stall, I tell myself the most innocent explanation is also the most logical.

Yet once I’m back inside the cabin, I can’t shake the idea that something’s not quite right here. Between the camera, the shadow at the shower stall, and the birds, I’ve been on edge all day. So much so that I feel the need to get out of the cabin for a little bit. Maybe go for a hike. A little exercise might be just the thing to sweep away the weird thoughts I’m having.

I throw open my hickory trunk, looking for my hiking boots. The first thing I see is the folded piece of paper Vivian had hidden in her own trunk. My hands tremble when I pick it up. I tell myself it’s residual stress from everything else that’s happened today. But I know the truth.

That page makes me nervous. As does the photograph that once again slides from its fold.

I stare at the woman in the picture, getting another shudder of familiarity when I look into her eyes. It makes me wonder what the woman—this Eleanor Auburn—was thinking when the photograph was taken. Did she fear that she was going insane? Was she seeing something that wasn’t really there?

Setting the picture aside, I make another examination of the map Vivian had drawn. I scan the entire page. The camp. The lake. The crudely drawn forest on the far shore. Yet my gaze lingers on the small X that’s left two deep grooves in the paper. Vivian did that for a reason. It means something is located there.

There’s no way to know for certain until I go there myself.

Which is exactly what I intend to do. Heading across the lake will both get me out of the cabin and let me start the search for more information in earnest. Like killing two birds with one stone, which I realize is a bad metaphor when I spot a stray feather peeking out from behind my trunk.

I begin to gather supplies and stuff them into my backpack. Sunblock and hand sanitizer. My phone. A water bottle. The map also goes into the backpack, which I zip shut as I leave the cabin. On my way out, I give the camera a defiant stare, hoping both Theo and Franny will see it later.

Before departing camp, I stop by the mess hall to fill up my water bottle and grab a banana and granola bar in case I get hungry. Two women and a man are outside. Kitchen workers spending the lull between lunch and dinner smoking in the shade of the overhanging roof. One of the women gives a disinterested wave. The man beside her is the same guy with the goatee who briefly checked me out this morning. The tag affixed to his apron strap says his name is Marvin.

Now Marvin stares past me to the lake in the distance. Afternoon swimming lessons are taking place, the shore and water dotted with young women in bathing suits of varying degrees of modesty. He catches me watching him and displays a grin so slimy it makes me want to reach for the hand sanitizer in my backpack.