I stretched my arms up as I yawned and pulled myself up to see my window wide open.
“Mom, come quick!” I screamed.
My mom ran up the stairs, giving me a horrified look. “What is it, Stella?” she asked.
“Look, my window’s open and all of my earrings are gone!” I yelled.
My mom laughed. “It was a windstorm,” she said.
“But what about my missing earrings?” I asked.
“Oh, your sister probably borrowed them. Don’t worry,” Mom said, leaving the room.
I looked around and noticed several toys were gone and my lamp was missing. I felt like a kid who had woken up on Christmas morning and gotten coal.
“But who could have gotten in? I lock it every night,” I thought.
Just then, I noticed a bright green hat on the floor that was not mine or my sibling’s. I looked very closely at the tag on the hat. It said “160 Elm” on it.
I said, “Elm Street is only a few blocks from here. I bet that’s what that means. Whoever lives there probably stole my stuff.”
I didn’t tell my mother because I didn’t want to scare her, so I decided to take a walk to Elm Street. But when I got to 160 there was no house there between 158 and 162, just a few old pottery plates in the grass and lots of weeds. I knocked on the neighbor’s door to ask about the empty lot.
A red-haired, middle-aged woman in jeans and a sweatshirt opened the door and smiled. “Hi, sweetie,” she said. “Why are you here, today?”
“Look at this hat I found in my house, and a lot of my stuff was missing. And this hat says to go to 160 Elm, but there’s no house here,” I said.
The woman inspected the hat. It was a green beret with a 1960s peace symbol on it. And then the lady started to cry.
“Why are you crying, Miss?”
“You see, dear. It’s a very long story, but they were my best friends and my neighbors — 40 years ago. I don’t know how you found this hat. I thought it had gotten lost in the fire.”
“What fire?” I asked.
“The fire that burned down the house next door at 160. It killed my friend, Lilly. I have a photo of her, from Christmas that year. The next day was the fire and she died.”
The woman ran and got the photo. It was black and white. I guess it was very old. In it was a little girl my age, wearing a beret with a peace symbol on it. The presents under the Christmas tree in the photo were my toys and my lamp was in the background. She was wearing my earrings!
When I got home, I ran to mom, who was baking cookies like nothing had ever happened.
“Mom, have you seen my pogo stick, hoola hoop, lemon twist or Raggedy Ann dolls?”
“No, honey, you never had those kind of toys! Is it April Fool’s Day?”
I ran up to my room frustrated. I looked around my room and saw an iPod, an Xbox, a cell phone, laptop and flat-screen TV. No old-school toys. I dug through my toy chest. At the bottom there was a school portrait from last year. In it, I was wearing the green peace beret.