by Renuka Raghavan
Do You Know Where Serendipity Is?
Maya can hear them all downstairs. Royce was saying goodbye to her mother in the doorway. Then everything goes quiet again, apart from her younger sister turning on the shower across the hall. The smell of sambar simmering on the stove drifts all the way inside her bedroom where she is lying on the bed with a pillow between her knees. She can still feel the wet of his saliva just above her lips, and his fingers. At least he had made an effort to be nice. She tries to forget and turns on the TV.
A local news anchor was talking about a missing girl. They show the picture of a cute seven-year-old cross-eyed girl with long blonde hair and eyeglasses. She hasn’t been seen for the past two years but she is just now being reported as missing. The girl has one of those weird names that Maya’s mom believes only white people use. Serendipity. The anchor throws the story to a reporter who is standing outside the house where Serendipity was last seen. The reporter rings the doorbell, and an elderly woman opens the door dressed in a robe. When she spots the camera, she moves to close the door, but the reporter shouts, Do you know where Serendipity is? She was last seen near here. No, says the woman.
Maya shuts the TV off. Her sister is bumbling in the hallway, but otherwise the house is still quiet. Royce hasn’t texted her yet, though he promised he would. She looks at the photo of him affixed to her dresser mirror. With his artfully tousled brown hair, he is in his lacrosse uniform and never smiles in pictures. Above him, there’s a photo of Maya’s whole family from their last vacation, all with ear-to-ear grins. Maya can’t help but think of Royce and Serendipity.
After they were finished, Maya and Royce had lain under her sheets, her duvet smelling like the washing detergent her mom only bought if there was a coupon. Royce had said it was a shame it had hurt, and Maya wanted to cry but didn’t. When Royce said he was leaving, she didn’t bother asking him to stay a little longer because she didn’t want him there anymore either. She slipped her fingers over her panties where she still felt tender, and she hoped the feeling would soon pass.
She can hear the whole house from her room. Her mother is unloading the dishwasher and setting the table for dinner. Dad is turning up the volume on the television. Still no text. Maya silences her phone and shuts her eyes. She decides Royce is a weird name too.