It was still raining when I pulled up the car at Hornsby Station. Simon sat in the passenger seat, breathing slowly yet loudly. He fiddled with his mobile phone, which illuminated the car.
“Mum and Dad have said that they just passed Cowan,” Simon divulged. “They should be here soon.”
He cleared his throat, then leaned back in his seat, arms tense.
“Do your parents have somewhere to stay?” I asked.
“Yes,” Simon confirmed, bobbing his head. “My aunty lives nearby, they’re going to stay with her.”
“That’s helpful,” I responded.
Simon checked his phone again.
“They’re only one station away,” he mentioned. “We may as well head down to the platform. I want to be there as soon as they get off the train.”
Therefore, we scampered through the train, arriving just in time. The train pulled into the platform. I swayed back. The doors parted and passengers started to disembark. I didn’t think I would recognise Simon’s parents. Of course I did, because his mother looked just like Bianca, and his father like Simon, even down to the wrinkles in his hair, a little dampened with rain and sweat. My heart dropped like a stone in my chest. Simon greeted his mother with a hug, squeezing each other, like they never wanted to be there, but never wanted to let go. I never planned to take on this role. They never planned this, either. We returned in my car to the house where Bianca and Robert had been living. Compared to the glum day outside, the interior of the house seemed far too warm. Robert led his in-laws through into the room where his wife was resting. The colour had left Bianca’s cheeks. I swayed into the doorframe which caught me, as her parents entered the room. Simon and I lingered. It seemed like neither of us had a place within this setting, after all. I swallowed.
“Do you want something to drink?” Simon offered.
Bianca shook her head. Simon fetched her some fresh water with ice chips in the cup nonetheless, just in case she changed her mind. Once they were settled, I returned to Geoff’s place. Bella wouldn’t be far away, as she was coming over to plan for her new childcare business. He greeted me with a T-shirt to lean against, and a hand running through my hair. When we separated, I moved through to the kitchen table and I sat down, feeling shaky, then checked my phone. The message was in the newly-created bridal party group chat.
“Sofia would like maroon for the bridesmaids’ dresses.”
Geoff nodded his head.
“She’s already bought her dress. She chose that on Friday afternoon from the place near the library.”
“Is it gorgeous?”
“Yes, of course it is.” I checked my phone, as Natalie arrived to start putting dinner on. “Bella’s getting ready to plan out and open her new childcare business. Hopefully it’ll be really good for her, working at weddings and bits and pieces.”
“Well, she’s welcome to come over here. This place is always open to you and your friends.”
“Thanks. She’s on her way, as a matter of fact.”
I offered to set the table, to make up for the fact that there would be an extra person for the meal. Geoff kissed me on the back of the neck. I could smell the dinner, delicious. It wasn’t long until Bella arrived.
“So, you’re going to be a bridesmaid,” she pointed out.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a little bit of a surprise,” I admitted.
This felt like my home, even though I’d never lived there personally. Natalie threw out her greetings from the kitchen. Bella and I sat across the table from each other. She spread out a long sheet of butcher’s paper. Natalie stepped over, carrying two plates of crumbed chicken and baked potatoes. She placed them down in front of Bella and me.
“Thank you very much, Natalie.” Bella smiled.
“Thanks,” I chimed in with my own grin.
Natalie opened the fridge and retrieved the bottle of mayonnaise.
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'.