As soon as I awoke, I reached for my mobile phone. I called Geoff, still lying down.
“Happy birthday to you,” I sung as soon as he answered. “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Geoff, happy birthday to you. Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip hooray!”
“Thank you, Nina, thank you,” he replied. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” I echoed. “Would you have time to have breakfast together before work?”
“Yeah, I reckon I can manage that,” Geoff agreed.
“Cool,” I responded, sitting up and throwing back the covers, exposing myself to the cold. “Should I meet you at Castle Towers in about half an hour or so?”
“Alright,” Geoff agreed.
I gathered my things for the day, then ensured the back doors were locked. Mum and Dad had already left for work, so I slipped out the front door. I trudged up to the main road and caught the bus up to Castle Hill, straps of my backpack over my shoulders. Upon my arrival, I tapped off with my Opal card, then disembarked. Striding down the footpath, I spotted Geoff across the road, sitting outside at the café. I waved, then crossed the road. We enjoyed breakfast together. I had a bacon and egg roll, while Geoff tucked into muesli and fruit – a little boring, but at least a colourful dish. From there I caught the train to uni. Being apart from my boyfriend on his birthday wasn’t ideal, but unfortunately it needed to be done. When evening rolled around, I didn’t particularly feel like going to the footy with Geoff, Aaron and Penelope. It had been a difficult day at uni during which I’d struggled to stay awake for lecture after lecture. Yet, we have organised to attend the match. In some ways, it was an act of trust, that we were catching the train to Woolooware and going to the footy, just as Joel had done. I stepped onto the train at Macquarie University station. It was certainly the long way there, as opposed to driving directly south en route to the stadium. I rested my cheek against the cool scratched train window, with my bag on my lap. From it, I retrieved my mobile phone, to send off texts, to Geoff, Aaron and Penelope. I told them I was nearly there. Upon arriving at the stadium, I scanned my ticket. I headed through to my usual seat, trusting my sense of direction. As soon as I saw Geoff again, I no longer regretted my decision.
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'.