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Audacity

Dad knocked first on the door of our grandparents’ home in Bankstown, a heritage-painted terrace which they’d downsized to. We waited for a moment before Grandma opened the door and outstretched her arms. I allowed Grandma to pull me into a tight embrace.


“Oh, we love you, Nina,” she murmured.


“We love you too,” I responded. “Happy birthday Grandma.”


“Oh, thank you very much, Nina,” she replied.


I didn’t think that Grandma was ever going to let me go. Maybe I didn’t really want her to. Grandma held me close and I felt safe and warm. Yet, eventually she did step back, prompted by the sounding of the oven timer.


“That’s lunch,” Grandma mentioned.


She waddled back into the kitchen. I didn’t like reflecting upon the way Grandma moved. If I would be so lucky, I’d sway from side to side like that one day, too. Grandma turned off the oven. I rose to my feet to help her, but didn’t know what to do, so I sat back down again, feeling a little helpless, admittedly. In this house, it still seemed to be a man’s world, in which the domestic tasks were women’s work. Still, that didn’t mean I felt like I had the skills to fit in. I didn’t express this.


“You’ve still been seeing a counsellor, haven’t you, Nina?” Opa checked.


I nodded.


“Yes, I am,” I confirmed.


“Well, yes, counselling is an appropriate response to encountering trauma circumstances,” he outlined.


I knew that all different people had a vast array of relationships with their grandparents. For me, I wasn’t particularly close with either side of the family.


“I’m sure you’ll want to prove yourself there.”


Grandma made a decent point. I could always tell she was speaking her mind when she scratched the back of her neck while she talked. Still, I found myself laughing, trying not to take the mood down too much.


“Oh, that shouldn’t be that surprising from me, an Enneagram Three.”


I took a deep breath. If Mitchell was here, he would act as the mediator, but the fact that he wasn’t provided me with the impetus to get through the day.


“What’s the Enneagram?”


“So, it’s this sort of personality test thing,” I explained. “You answer the questions, and then it gives you a type, which is a number, and that says something about your personality.”


“Right,” Grandma replied, although I still didn’t think that she fully understood.


“I’m a Type Three, like I said.”


It was the sort of thing I would have expected my grandparents to dismiss.


“What’s this you’re talking about?”


“The Enneagram. It’s a personality test, just something which is popular with young people.”


And older people, too, but I didn’t mention that. A funny look flashed across his face. I tried to ignore it. Pulling my phone out of my bag, I smiled.


“How about you find out your number?” I urged.


Even though I thought she had her doubts, Grandma agreed – at least it got her out of cleaning up from lunch, for the meantime.


“I strive for perfection.”


“Oh, not really,” Grandma answered, so I selected the second option from the left.


“I work hard to be helpful to others.”


“Well, yeah, I try to.”


She had the potential to be a Type Two. I pressed ‘accurate’, because I do believe that’s true about Grandma. The prompts went by. Some were easy to answer, whereas others were more difficult. We finished the quiz. I smiled, anticipating the results. What Grandma’s Enneagram number would be wasn’t immediately obvious.


“Alright, you’re a Six.”


“What does that mean?”


“You value safety and security.”


That sounded fair enough. Opa emptied the kitchen bin.


“I’m sorry, I’ve just got to go to the toilet.”


I rose to my feet. Walking through the familiar space, I found my way to the bathroom. I wondered what it would be like to truly be the only grandchild. Not being the oldest child, I’d never experienced that. I felt a little sick to my stomach, but there was nothing wrong with me. Going to the toilet, I took my home, soaking in the scents of my grandparents’ bathroom. I could pick up rose and jasmine. The aromas were so pretty that they could cover up any other foul smell. On my way back from the bathroom, I scanned the photos which lined the walls in the corridor. They attested to decades of our family’s history – all in black and white, although some were anachronistic, artistic prints. I spotted one of Mitchell and I, from his twenty-first birthday party a few years ago. I returned to the table.


“We’re going to make tracks now, I think,” Dad announced.


“I gather that you would have plenty of study to do, Nina,” Grandma pointed out.


“Yes.”


My voice was thin. Opa farewelled us. Dad led us out the door and back to the car, even though Mum ended up driving. However, we didn’t drive home, but instead towards Castle Hill. I wondered if Dad had intended to lie, or simply aimed to tell the truth in a way which ended up twisting it. If I did have study to do, it wasn’t going to be happening tonight. Mum pulled the car up underneath the carport at Greg and Natalie’s house. Natalie stepped out over the front porch, pulling the door shut behind her. I opened the car door and unfastened my seatbelt. Slipping out of the car, I left the door open and took another step, pulling the back passenger side door ajar. I moved into the back seat. While I closed the door again and fastened my seatbelt, Natalie sat down in the front.


“Hello, Natalie,” Mum greeted her, while she buckled herself in, allowing Mum to reverse back out of the driveway. “Thank you for coming with us, I appreciate it.”


“It’s alright,” Natalie replied. “It’s the least I can do.”


 

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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