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Love

During my lecture, I could feel my phone vibrating within my bag against my leg. While I couldn’t have known who was calling without checking it, thus breaking the news, my heart thumped faster and I knew I had to flee the theatre. I snapped closed my computer, causing more than a few students to stare. Shoving it into my bag, I left. I panted a little when I was outside. While I slumped down against the wall, I retrieved my phone and answered Natalie’s call.


“Hello,” I greeted.


“Hi, Nina,” Natalie replied, sounding as calm as ever. “How has your day been?”


“Yeah, good, thanks,” I answered, my standard response.


“Listen, your Mum and Dad are going out tonight, aren’t they?”


“Yeah.”


“Would you like to come over for dinner with us tonight?”


“Alright, that would be lovely.”


“Good,” Natalie replied. “Geoff can pick you up on his way home from work.”


“Thanks, I’d appreciate that.”


It saved me having to catch the bus or the train back, which would speed things up.


“I’ll see you later, Nina.”


“Bye.”


I ended the call with Natalie, then almost immediately, my phone rang again – an unfamiliar number which I nearly didn’t answer. Thinking that I ought to, I pressed the green button.


“Hello, Nina del Reyan speaking.”


Maybe this call would have something to do with Mitchell.


“Hi Nina, it’s Callista Lucas here from the Macquarie Theatre Company. How are you?”


“Yeah, good, thanks.”


I took a breath from deep within my chest.


“We would love to offer you a role in Grease. Would you like to join the company for the production?”


I noticed a tall man walking across the lawn, but he wasn’t Mitchell.


“That would be wonderful, thank you,” I gushed.


“Great. I’ll email you the rehearsal schedule.”


We ended our phone call, in a beaming blur. The sun had nearly set when I ambled out of the university. Thankfully, Geoff’s car was waiting. I opened the passenger door and slipped inside.


“Thanks for coming to get me.” I closed the door and fastened my seatbelt across my chest. “How was your day?”


“Oh, it was a day,” Geoff responded.


He drove me home to his parents’ place, so that I could have dinner with them while Mum and Dad were out at a work function in the city. We sat down in the TV room, with the evening news on. Geoff stared straight ahead at the television, drowning in the drawl of the newsreader’s voice. Natalie carried three plates into the TV room.


“I never knew that you were a waitress, Mum,” Geoff quipped.


He reached for the stable table, placing it onto his lap. Natalie laughed, a wide grin coming onto her lips as she handed Geoff his dinner.


“I’ve got hidden talents,” she remarked.


Geoff pushed himself up, with his plate in one hand, so that he could fetch a tea towel off Natalie’s shoulder.


“Thank you so much for cooking for us, Natalie,” I told her.


“You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure.”


We ate our dinner, then Natalie collected the plates to return them to the kitchen.


“Would you like some ice cream?” she offered, as she ambled back.


“That would be lovely, thank you.”


I smiled, feeling like a little girl again. When my phone beeped, I expected that it would be Dad. Instead, though, there was a photograph of a baby boy in Lorelai’s arms.


Thrilled to announce that Susanna has given birth to a healthy baby boy, named Gabriel Sloane-Swift


The text message was from Lorelai’s husband, Marcus.


Excellent news. Give him an extra snuggle from us. God bless. From Nina del Reyan and her family.


Natalie ambled into the room. She was carrying two dishes filled with chocolate ice cream, patterned with swirls of caramel, and covered with thick chocolate topping. I looked up and smiled at Natalie, then accepted my dessert to devour. Later in the night, I lay in bed, when my phone made a less than familiar noise. Reaching across, I pulled it off the shelf and squinted as I looked at the screen, with a message emblazoned on it.


Clementine Fidler added you to Hills District Missing Persons Support Group chat group


I tapped in my passcode – 031203, my birthdate – then opened up the app.


Scrolling through, I found hundreds and hundreds of messages, spanning back two years. Tears welled in my eyes as I started to read everything that they had shared.


Timmy Clarke created this chat group (15.08.19)


Timmy Clarke added Brigitta Watt, Debbie McPherson, Dean Barrie, Noel O’Brien, Jamie Twemlow, Ella McKinnon, Rod Coyle, Clementine Fidler, Todd Linder, Mick Elliott and Zipporah Rossi (15.08.19)


Timmy Clarke (15.08.19): Thought I’d make this chat group just in case we all need to get in contact with each other.


Debbie McPherson (15.08.19): Thanks Timmy. If we get new members, make sure to add them.


Clementine Fidler (15.08.19): Thanks


Todd Linder added Lawrence Ferguson (17.08.19)


Todd Linder (17.08.19): It was nice to meet you mate


Lawrence Ferguson (17.08.19): Thanks for having me. It was very soothing to be able to talk.


Dean Barrie (17.08.19): We’re all here for you Lawrence and, if you need any resources, we’ll give whatever you can, whenever we can. That’s the purpose of this group. We’ve all been through what you’re going through.


Ella McKinnon (17.08.19): Deb, is there anything you need before your anniversary next month?


Debbie McPherson (17.08.19): Aaah, what day of the week is it? Once I look it up I’ll let you know.


Debbie McPherson (17.08.19): Thanks for thinking of it, Ella. Really appreciate it. The anniversary’s always strange, as you would know. It’s both the anniversary of the last day I saw him and the day he disappeared.


Noel O’Brien (17.08.19): I know that feeling


I knew that feeling too, as I could still picture Mitchell walking out the door.

Noel O’Brien (17.08.19): I can still see Junie walking through the front door, hand in hand with the girls


Clementine Fidler (17.08.11): Awww Noel


Clementine Fidler (17.08.11): Keeping you and those beautiful girls in our prayers


Noel O’Brien (17.08.11): Thank you very much Clementine. We all really appreciate it.


Noel O’Brien (17.08.19): Josie and Prim love their Aunty Clem very much. We’re grateful.


Clementine Fidler (17.08.19): Meeting your beautiful girls has been a silver lining


Noel O’Brien (17.08.19): Sorry


Noel O’Brien (17.08.19): Fell asleep last night


Noel O’Brien (17.08.19): Thank you very much @Clementine Fidler


I couldn’t help but notice a little spark of something between Noel and Clementine.


Noel O’Brien (24.08.19): You’re a blessing to the three of us Clementine. You really are.


Clementine Fidler (24.08.19): Awww thank you very much Noel. You’re a blessing to me too. Give your little girls a cuddle for me.


Noel O’Brien (24.08.19): Of course I will Clementine. I don’t have a babysitter for Wednesday night, I’ll bring them along.


Debbie McPherson (24.08.19): Mwaa mwaa looking forward to seeing them


Noel O’Brien (24.08.19): Hehe I’m sure that they’re looking forward to seeing you


Timmy Clarke (24.08.19): Who is bringing drinks and nibbles on Wed?


Todd Linder (24.08.19): I’m on drinks duty but I don’t drink grog


Todd Linder (24.08.19): So if anybody else wants to bring grog you’re welcome. I mean, I can bring it if you like but that’s not really something that I do anymore and wouldn’t know what to bring


Mick Elliott (24.08.19): That’s alright Todd


Mick Elliott (24.08.19): I’m not on anything but I can bring beer if you’d like


Rod Coyle (24.08.19): I think that we can do without grog for the week


I sensed that there was something uneasy regarding Todd and alcohol.


Todd Linder (24.08.19): Thank you very much Rod


Rod Coyle (24.08.19): I understand mate, no worries


Timmy Clarke (3.9.19): Who is on drinks and nibbles this week?


Dean Barrie (3.9.19): Good pick-up Timmy. We haven’t got the roster together yet for September because it’s the first week


Jamie Twemlow (3.9.19): I’m happy to bring wine. Red or white? Bubbles or no?


Clementine Fidler (3.9.19): Is that even a question Jamie Twemlow hehe? Sparkling shiraz is my mother’s milk, yes please. I can bring it if you’d rather, the bloke in the bottle-o is my best friend now hehe (Is that how you spell bottle-o? Hehe I should know)


Debbie McPherson (3.9.19): Yeah that’s how I’d spell it too Clementine Fidler


Ella McKinnon (3.9.19): Can’t really spell it bottlo, that just looks weird


Debbie McPherson (3.9.19): Hehe yes it does


Jamie Twemlow (3.9.19): That’s alright


Jamie Twemlow (3.9.19): Your wish is my command Clementine Fidler hehe. I’ll bring sparkling shiraz for our drinks, see you Wednesday night at the library. Is there a particular kind you like?


Clementine Fidler (3.9.19): Nup, any kind’s absolutely fine thank you very much


Jamie Twemlow (3.9.19): Hehe you’re very welcome Clementine Fidler. Anytime. Is anybody else bringing food?


Clementine Fidler (3.9.19): Hehe I’ll absolutely hold you to that for sure Jamie Twemlow. You can bring me sparkling shiraz at three o’clock in the morning


Clementine did seem a bit too attached to her sparkling shiraz, which I’d noticed in hindsight. I placed down my phone. Rolling over, I found myself listening to the creaks of the house.


 

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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