At 3 Am on Saturday morning Serenity wakes up in a start. A strange sensation that something is not right. A swirl of anxiety spins in her mind. She sits on the bed . Last night she did not hear anyone coming in or the barking of the dog. That is not possible because she is very light sleeper. Serenity slips from the bed. She pushes her daughter’s bedroom door and stands in the doorway staring. The bed is undisturbed. Celeste is supposed to be back before midnight. Serenity tries her cell phone number which rings but goes straight to the answering message. Something is very wrong here. Serenity breaths quickly now though her heart beat is calm.
She walks outside to the wooden deck.Only a smoldering dull light seems to descend from the sky as if a bright moon is trapped behind the clouds. Her daughter’s sagging hammock between the two sturdy trees is there but no Celeste of course. Serenity goes to the garage, entering through a side door no one inside there. May be she stayed with her friend but did not call. May be her phone battery is down. Serenity enters again to her daughter’s room and turns on the light. She sees how neatly tightly books are arranged into the small Red oak bookcase. Celeste always love books and mostly classics. Her favorite pencil drawings on stiff white construction paper decorates one side of the white wall. Serenity moves closer to the wall the drawings are so elaborate, fine and meaningful. She looks at the small vintage clock on the table. It is almost 5 Am. Where on earth could she be! Serenity speaks sharply. No she is angry and at the same time despair. She fumbles for a chair, a kitchen chair and sits down heavily as if the air has slammed out of her. She starts to call all of Celeste’s friends one after another. Nobody knows. They all reply that she was with them in the school dance until it was over and they did not see her after that. Serenity feels so weak and so frightened. Her daughter is only thirteen years old. She contacts the sheriff department, her last hope. It feels as if a nightmare movie runs at high-speed for a cruel-comic effect. And she does not like scary movies not at all. She has watched and read so many news on missing children and she has cried many a times for the mothers, for those children.
We have found your daughter-alive and well. This call, so desperately wished for does not come.
The search team has looked for Celeste everywhere, morning to dusk. Volunteers a flex flyers to telephone poles, trees, public walls, in post office, in walking trails. But no answer yet. Serenity’s eyes pouched in tiredness and damp. She sits in her prayer room eyes closed, hands folded. ‘God if I could trade my life for my little girl, then let that be, please keep her safe and spare her, take mine instead.’
There is a reward to find Celeste. Many calls come in but not the right one. Someday Serenity fantasizes to here ‘ We have found your daughter and she wants to talk to you.’ But there is nothing, nothing at all. The sheriff finds Celeste’s navy blue scarf and one pair of her black high heels in a parking lot but not her. Serenity has accepted the fate, the cruelty of life.
Six years have passed.
One summer evening in July. Serenity has just returned from her volunteer work from the women’s shelter. The doorbell rings. In front of the door stands the local sheriff, who has helped Serenity a lot in her daughter’s missing case.In his eyes a strange elation. “ I have a good news for you. We have your daughter.” He says with a tight small smile.
“What? Serenity begins to feel very faint. The news is dazzling as a sudden bright,blindness scalding her brain. “ What did you say? You found Celeste?” Serenity tries her best to stand straight holding to the side of the door.
She runs towards the police car in bare foot.Her dog runs behind her. There on the back seat, someone is lying wrapped in a grey blanket and her face hidden, unmoving and she has known at once who it is. “ Celeste!” she lifts her daughter’s body and wraps her arms around her in a rib-crushing embrace. “ I love you so much.” She says kissing her daughter’s forehead.
The daughter’s pale skin, her shadowed eyes, dark curly hair that has thinned a lot from malnutrition and the scars on her abused body tells a very long sad,and heart breaking story to her mother. Serenity glances closely. Mother understands very well the emotion,the feelings, the sadness in her child’s eyes. “ I am so grateful that you are with me.” Serenity wipes her own tears. “ Do not you worry, I will take care of you. I will bring justice to you.” She carries her daughter to inside the house as she whispers choking in her own tears. “ Together we will fight and we will win.”