The pages of the journal were thin, and gilded on the edges. May had started writing in it eighteen months before, and there were only five pages empty of her small, trembling handwriting. She wrote lists, not entries. Things she'd seen, things she'd thought, not the bubblings of boys and parties that a grown man is taught to expect of a girl just rounding the edges of sixteen.
1. dark green grass underneath the stairs, in lines, where the light comes through the slats.
2. grandma's hair bent over the sink in fuzzy white curls like the soap over the dishes
3. there isn't anything wrong with wanting something
Sal found nothing of places, or friends but he found May's love of old paint on front porches and lines from her favorite songs. She drew dragons in the margins, her pencil trailing fire from their open mouths.
Sal stayed up nights on the couch in his caravan, slouched in a pool of bitter light from the one lamp on his desk, reading her lists over and over. He hoped for something to come forward, some code, or clue and he walked the shadows of her school during the day, hoping to find an idea, a ripple to follow.
His parents hadn't called the police, wouldn't call the police -- they were obstinant and too old to think anything but what they'd wanted to. Sal wasn't a young man himself, but if he'd learned nothing else from Cody it was to do things himself rather than rely on any other authority. Might as well spit into the wind, Cody'd said, as give up the control you've got left in an emergency. And maybe it was an emergency, and maybe may had only taken off in the night like his father thought, but Cody would have been walking the trails already, watching for her, reading the ground, one pink ear turned toward the gravel, white hair flaring around his head.
The caravan and the trailer were far into the fields down a thin yellow road lined with dust that drew Sal's eyes throughout the day. He'd look up from May's journal, rubbing his thumb over the knob of his lost finger and squint until his eyes watered. He saw nothing, and saw nothing, and found nothing of May anywhere he stretched his legs to. All he found were tickets littering the ground like confetti in the bus station, the pounded dirt behind the stadium, the hushed worry in the faces of the people he asked.
Ain't seen May in near a week, said the marble mouthed men who worked the corner by the school.
She in any kind of trouble? clucked the women at the market where she'd worked.
She wasn't happy, admitted her guilty eyed friends, but know one knew where she might go, what she might be pulled toward.
So Sal watched the road outside his house, wished for Cody, and when, one morning, a flat black painted sedan began to tumble and roar its way down through the pebbles and dirt toward Sal's caravan, he watched it from the moment it turned off the high way to when it came to rest beside his front door with a lurch and a grumble.