Rain continuously leaked from the grey sky as we drove to Greg, Natalie and Geoff’s house. We pulled up under the carport and climbed out of the car, carrying out a white plastic washing basket filled with wrapped presents. Geoff stepped out onto the front porch. He wore a red T-shirt with a green Christmas tree stitched onto it. A pair of reindeer antlers were placed on his head, yet they flopped forward against his fringe.
“Oh, you poor baby.” I pecked Geoff on the lips.
I tried to adjust his antlers, to little avail.
“That’ll have to do.”
I gave a half-smile. The food Natalie had prepared smelled delicious. We sat down at the table, with our plates of lunch. Mum started eating, then I noticed Greg shaking his head.
“What’s the matter?”
I pressed my lips together.
“Maybe we could say grace.”
“Of course, sorry.”
I spotted a blush in Mum’s cheeks. We bowed our heads and Natalie prayed. As soon as she said ‘Amen’, we could open our eyes and eat. Giving space to spirituality made me feel a little more at ease than I had done. As I tucked into my food, the thought of Bianca flashed through my mind, while I clocked Mitchell’s empty chair. Tears welled in my eyes, but I suppressed them with food. We finished off our lunch, our bloated bellies proof of purchase for the lack of conversation. Aunty Mithali texted through a selfie from their own Christmas table, of the family of five smiling. Her own parents joined them, as well as her brother and his family, hence why brother and sister were apart on Christmas Day. After presents had been handed out, Geoff scratched my back with his stubbed fingernails.
“Thank you, darling, that feels amazing,” I affirmed with a grin.
Geoff placed a kiss on the back of my neck.
“Do you reckon that your family’s going to stay for much longer?” he wanted to know.
“Mum’s bound to nod off sooner rather than later.”
All in all, we decided to leave before she went to sleep. I planted a hearty kiss on Geoff’s lips to say goodbye.
“I’ll see you soon.”
We drove home and Mum and Dad went to bed. I sipped the wine which Rod had given me as a Secret Santa gift, but I’d guessed it was from him when I noticed that the label was Tasmanian.
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'.