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Geoff drove me through the rain.

“You’re very chivalrous,” I told him, beaming at him from the other side of the car.

Geoff shot me a quizzical look from the driver’s seat, at the end of our street.

“For driving me up to the bus stop because it’s raining,” I explained, as he turned left to head up the hill, now that the coast was clear.


Geoff shrugged his shoulders.

“I’m not entirely chivalrous,” he admitted. “I had planned to go up to Nanna Dawn’s place on the way to work, because Sean is coming back from uni this morning.”

My face fell, knowing what he had been through. Geoff and I reached the traffic lights. We stopped, because red lights shone onto the puddles.

“Would you like to just get out here?” Geoff asked.

I checked my watch, realising that I still had more time to get to uni than I first thought.

“Would it be alright if I came with you?” I requested.


“Yeah, that’s fine,” Geoff allowed, before pushing away.

It wasn’t much further down the road to get to Nanna Dawn’s place. There were already cars on the front lawn, allowing space for Geoff’s car in the driveway. When we walked into the house, Sean was there. There were no newspapers on the table. I knew what Sean had been through, that he had been one of the Wollongong uni students who’d found the bodies on the beach. We couldn’t bring that up, although it was all I could think about, one tragedy broaching through another.

“It’s really good to have you there,” I commented.


“Yeah, it’s good to be back.”

I took a deep breath. Badness seemed to surround my life, yet I found myself sitting with a cup of tea in the company of family. I would be OK and we would be fine.

“If you want to know, all I need to do now is speak to the coroner, when that happens.”


I didn’t realise that was the case. Of course, I said nothing, because it wasn’t my place. Geoff, as a police officer, would understand more about the situation than me. He rested his hand on my back. Natalie served up coffee and cake for those who wanted it, while the others continued to sip at their cups of tea. Eventually, I made my way into uni. I’d agreed to meet Bella there, using the facilities while the campus was eerily quiet following the end of the year. I could barely believe that I’d gotten through two years of my education degree – halfway there. The words of Bon Jovi played through my head as I moved through the campus. I quickened my pace as I climbed the stairs to the university library, dumping my bag under the awning outside. After entering, I looked out for Bella. She glanced up from the table and waved at me, beckoning me over. I rushed towards Bella.

“How did you go?” I wanted to know. “Did you get the loan?”


Bella nodded, beaming. I wrapped her into a tight hug.

“Oh my goodness, I’m so thrilled for you, Bel,” I commended. “That’s excellent news. That’s so exciting.”

“I’m really pleased.” We both stepped back from each other. “I was a tad nervous about how it was going to go. I’m young and I wasn’t sure whether or not that was going to go against me.”


“Well, I’m thrilled that it didn’t.” We sat back down at the table. “You know what you want to do. That’s excellent, especially because you’re young.”

“Yeah, I was fortunate that Mum and Dad came too, just to back me up, but I did all of the talking,” Bella explained. “I mean, Dad’s a quiet man, so he wouldn’t have said much anyway.”


“Yep, that’s true,” I agreed. “So you’ve got your business loan. What’s next?”

“Well, I was thinking of going on the weekend to actually buy the caravan and then get it all fitted out,” Bella answered. “With a caravan, I’ll be able to just park it outside. I can fit it out and make it magical inside and then take that around to different venues.”


“Do you need a special license to drive a caravan?” I asked.

“No, and how that I’ve got my full license it doesn’t matter how much it weighs,” Bella explained.

“Cool, cool.” I smiled. “Bella, I’m really thrilled for you. You’re a go-getter. You know what you want and you’re starting your own business so soon.”


Bella mirrored my grin.

“Thanks Nina, you’re a great friend,” she replied.

Suddenly, there was a loud crack behind us and I snapped my head around. A table, which was being set up for the university end-of-year markets that afternoon, had collapsed. Bella giggled quietly.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh, I know how tricky those tables are,” she mentioned.

Bella grabbed her water bottle and took a swig.

“I was just about to say that we should grab lunch, but there will be food from the markets to buy.”


“Yes, but we need to celebrate,” I insisted.

“I’m a sensible businesswoman now, Nina,” Bella reminded. “I need to be budgeting. I’m happy with market food, they do a good job most years.”

“True, true,” I agreed.


“How have you been, Nina?” Bella wanted to know. “We’ve been talking all about me.”

“Well, you’ve had exciting news!” I insisted. “You’re starting a business.”

“How’s Geoff?” Bella queried. “He’s back at work now, isn’t he?”

Instinctively, I blushed a little and bit my lip to try and suppress it. Bella giggled.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“Well.” I breathed out with a little bit of a mischievous smile, then lowered my voice. “Geoff went back to work. On Thursday, we went out for dinner, and one thing lead do another and--.”


I trailed off.

“Did you?” Bella narrowed her eyes.

I nodded, giggling. Bella squealed and grasped my hands across the table.

“Ah, Nina.” Bella laughed and shook her head. “You’re truly a woman now. We’re not kids anymore. Well, you’re not, at least.”


“You’re not either,” I insisted. “I mean, Bella, you’re starting your own business. You have been planning this all year. You’ve taken out a business loan, you’re a grownup.”

Bella giggled.

“I don’t know if I’m ready to be a grownup,” she admitted.


“None of us are,” I pointed out. “I wasn’t. I’m still not.”

Bella’s face fell.

“I’m so sorry, Nina, I didn’t think,” she apologised.

“Don’t worry,” I insisted.


Bella received a text message.

“What’s the matter?” I enquired instinctively as she read it.

“Oh, Mum’s just checking in.”

At a similar time, I heard from Lizzie. She was heading out to the airport later that afternoon. I agreed that I would tag along with Lizzie, since Bella was planning on heading back home. She needed to catch up with her mother. I farewelled Bella with a hug.

“I’m so proud of you starting this business.”


“Thank you.”

Bella departed. As I walked across to meet up with Lizzie, I fiddled with my cross necklace. The uni was decorated for Christmas. This put a spring in my step as I left the campus and tracked down my cousin. We embraced each other. After tapping on, Lizzie and I hurried down the stairs to the platforms at Macquarie University train station. She pressed her Opal card back into her purse, then looked up at the screen.

“Ten minutes until the train arrives,” Lizzie noted.

She dropped her purse back into her handbag, anxiously tapping her foot against the platform.

I smiled fondly.

“You’re really looking forward to seeing him, aren’t you?” I queried.

“Yeah,” Lizzie agreed apprehensively, a blush creeping from her jawline into her cheeks. “He’s been away for a while.”


“It’s only been about a month,” I pointed out.

“I know.” Lizzie sighed, running her fingers through her hair. “Dad’s been away for heaps longer at times.”

I didn’t say anything more, not wanting to push her. Instead, I stared down the tracks. Eventually, the train chugged into view. Once it paused, the doors opened and we climbed aboard. I expected that it would be busier. Thankfully, though, Lizzie and I were able to find seats side by side on both the first and second legs of our train journey. The conversation flowed all the way.

Arriving at the International Airport station, Lizzie and I stepped off the train. We moved with the crowd to the right. Stepping onto the escalators, they carried us up to the gates, where we tapped off. I kept sight of Lizzie until the passengers dispersed once we’d entered the terminal. We ambled over towards the screen, emblazoned with details of arrivals and departures.


“He’ll be on the 5:30 flight from Dubai,” Lizzie mentioned. “They went there for a holiday after their deployment finished.”

I nodded. Lizzie pointed down to the far end of the space.

“That’s where we’ll need to wait.” She glanced at her watch. “It’s ten minutes or so until he lands.”


We walked towards the people gathered by the ramp.

“There’s Trent’s parents,” Lizzie noted under her breath.

She quickened her pace towards them. Lizzie greeted them and, shortly after, the plane landed and the man of the moment strode towards us. I could tell from the way that Lizzie and Trent looked at each other that something was different. This was not just another Internet date. Trent wrapped his arms around Lizzie, tired but elated to have returned from his deployment. I couldn’t help but notice the similarities with Uncle Stewart. I figured that I would give Lizzie and Trent time to themselves, so I returned home myself. I slipped back into the house, still buzzing, and located Geoff ambling along the hallway, still dressed in his police uniform.

“Hi there.” He greeted me with a kiss on the cheek. “I didn’t realise that you’d be home.”

“Neither did I,” Geoff pointed out, “but I was on my way over to Justin’s place and I realised that I’d left the case of beer that I needed to take in your fridge. I only just got home, really. See, I’m not changed, I don’t have the beer.”


“That’s alright,” I permitted. “It was good to see you, because neither of us will be home until late. Are you coming back here?”

“I can if you want me to,” Geoff replied. “I didn’t really know what I was planning to do tonight. Mum and Dad aren’t expecting me home, especially not if I ring them.”


“It would be lovely to have you stay.” I smiled, and took his hand.

Geoff kissed me. His lips, slightly chapped, nonetheless tasted sweet.


The younger sister of missing Sydney man Mitchell del Reyan, Nina del Reyan lives on Dharug land in western Sydney. She has recently commenced a teaching degree at Macquarie University. Nina loves her family and friends and is deeply committed to finding answers and justice for the families of missing people.

Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey desires to explore themes of hope, love and longing through her storytelling. She is the author of 'Shadow' and 'From the Wild'.

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