Her room hadn't been opened since she last left it, and when Sal opened the door air was shocked into little whirpools of dust beside his feet. It hadn't been longer than a week but the room, sealed shut, had forgotten the outside world. Sal's booted feet upon the threshold upset the balance it had reached, reminded May's things of the girl who'd left them behind.
There were far too many pillows on her bed, Sal thought. Heaped against the headboard, out almost to the middle of the comforter with flounces and rustles, small stuffed animals tucked between them here and there, peeking button noses and black eyes out between the floral prints. Above, there were pictures taped to the wall -- the ones closest to the window were yellowed around the edges. Sal saw his sister's face on one, her warm smile as she held May in her arms like an offering the camera.
Sal dragged a finger across the top of May's drawers, through the jumble of necklaces and rubber bands, pens, papers, detritus of a sixteen year old girl shedding school for summer. He touched the edges of the round mirror, imagined her combing her long dark hair in font of it, the sun behind her, and freckles peppered beneath her wide eyes.
On the window seat, there was a pile of books, and a half filled suit case.
"You see," said Sal's father, behind him, "she went on her own."
Sal said nothing, and his father's feet made loud noises as he walked away down the thin hallway. The small brown suitcase beneath the darkened window, with it's top flung open and the red sleeves of winter shirts hanging out of it, looked like a chest empty of a heart.
Start at the begining, Sal heard Cody's soft voice whispering. Follow the tracks outward.
Know what to look for.
Sal was at the begining, but May, May he didn't know. He touched his whole hand to the pillows that still bore an indentation from cradling her dark head nightly, and he drew in a breath of stale air. He thought of the three year old smile she'd given him when her family had come to visit him and her strange, sweet notes, arrayed like a battallion in his caravan.
He rubbed the knub of his ring finger with his thumb, and stared at the book marked 'journal' beside her mirror.
Know what to look for, and don't let nothing stop you, Cody would say, mouth twisted in a sideways smile. The book fit into Sal's palm easily, became a warm weight in his breast pocket as he left, shutting May's room behind him carefully.