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Noel placed the cake on the table. It was choc-chip ice cream, covered with hardened topping. Timmy followed after with a box of matches, striking them against the side of the box. Off by the doors, Todd flicked off the lights as the candles were lit. We started to sing, there’s a rhythm to these things.

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.”

Clementine was beaming.

“Happy birthday, dear Clementine, happy birthday to you!”

She leaned over, holding back her hair. Clementine blew out the candles. We applauded. Noel took responsibility, so I handed him the knife. Firstly, he removed the candles. They’d become smeared with icing, as tended to happen. Noel finished cutting the cake. He handed out the slices and Brigitta commenced the tunes – an 80s soundtrack, no surprises there. As we finished our cake, Timmy fetched the news bear.

“Who’s almost finished?” he enquired. “Who would like to start?”

I raised one hand.

“Timmy, I can,” I offered, taking a breath.

He tossed the news bear over. Mick reached out with one hand and snavelled it. Timmy cocked one eyebrow.

“Are you going to go first now, Micky boy?” he quipped.

“No, no,” Mick assured, carefully handing the news bear over to me.

“Well, I’m still at uni,” I reported.

“Will you have exams at the end of the semester?”

“I have a prac at the end of the semester, at a school in the Blue Mountains--.”


“Yeah. That’s the new thing, having a prac sooner rather than later. I think it’s good, it gets us into the classroom and, you know, that’s a key part of being a teacher and I want to make sure that I’m cut out for it before getting too much further in my degree.”

“I hadn’t thought about it like that,” Noel admitted.

He nodded, seeming impressed. The news bear finally made its way back around the circle to Timmy. He placed it down on the floor, resting against the front leg of his chair. I understood that the news bear, childish as it may have seemed, was a treasured item for the support group. Even if he was starting to look a little battered, he was still much loved.

“Alright, let’s, let’s do trivia.”

Timmy fetched cards from his bag. Noel started packing up the leftover crumbs on the cake board, as we’d demolished the whole thing. Already I felt hungry again. Thankfully there were further snacks provided which I was able to select from. Following the support group meeting, it was just Timmy and I left in the library, to make sure everything was packed away.

“Thank you for staying and helping out.”

“Oh, it’s not a problem at all,” he insisted.

Finally, we were able to turn off the lights. We waved each other farewell and I drove home, where I changed out of my clothes from the day and into my pyjamas. Mum and Dad wouldn’t have liked if I dumped my laundry on the floor, so I at least made the effort to drape them over the back of my chair. Dropping into bed, I said a prayer.


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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