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Costs

Upon arriving at the library, I stashed my gift for Zipporah, Natalia and the baby in the staffroom, to bring back out later.


“Hi, Spencer,” I greeted him as I emerged again, behind the counter. “How are you?”


“Good, thanks.”


I noticed Spencer’s head was tilted to the side a little. Instinctively, I narrowed my eyes, then he farewelled me – his workday over – and departed the library. My shift was plagued by thoughts about whether or not I should have time off work. Maybe if Spencer wasn’t well, then I wouldn’t have the opportunity. I think the customers noticed my furrowed brow, but I shrugged it off. Once I’d closed the library for the afternoon, I set up the chairs for the support group meeting. Timmy strode through the library doors.


“Hi.”


“Hello.”


“Do you know if Zipporah’s coming?”


“No, Zipporah won’t be here tonight. Last I heard she was going to bring Natalia and the baby home today, provided all was well.”


“Right.”


I breathed out in thought.


“I’ll be back in a moment.”


I scampered into the staffroom and fetched the present for the new baby. With a smile, I returned. I offered Timmy the gift.


“What’s this?”


“It’s just a little something for Natalia’s baby.”


“Oh, thanks, but save it for Zipporah. I wouldn’t say I’ll see her any earlier than you will.”


I nodded, withdrawing the present.


“Alright, yeah, that makes sense.”


I still couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed. Given there was only a couple of weeks until Christmas, we wheeled out the TV for a lighter feel to the gathering. I glanced up towards the library ceiling while I jabbed the button on the remote. This technology was endearingly old for the most part, but sometimes it could be a little bit annoying that it didn’t feel like it had been updated this century. There wasn’t much for us to watch on the television which would be useful for this meeting. Therefore, I switched it off. Once the others had arrived, we all sat down in a circle, the rest of us seeming to look at Timmy, anxious for further updates. It had been quite the dramatic departure from my birthday party when Natalia had gone into labour. I could hear my own pulse, racing like a baby’s on an ultrasound.


“Zipporah is pretty adamant that she wants Natalia to retain parental rights over the baby.” Timmy sat down. “The last thing she wants is a repeat of her own experience.”


“Yeah, for sure.”


“Oh, I can tell you. The baby has a name. Natalia has chosen Jemima Grace Rossi.”


“That’s a beautiful name.”


Initially, I wondered whether she’d selected it from watching Play School, but I doubted that there was much television out in the community where Zipporah and Natalia had grown up. Jemima would live in a totally different world. I found myself playing with my hair. I thought about how it would be nice to play a little bit of music, but I didn’t voice that. Instead, we sat in relative silence in between each person’s turn to speak. There was plenty to plan for the support group, perhaps owing to the busy nature of the end of the year.


“We have one more meeting before Christmas, next week, which will be our Christmas party. We’ll coordinate who’d like to bring what in terms of food and drinks.”


Blank faces stared back at him. Timmy relaxed in his plastic seat, causing his T-shirt sleeves to ride up a little. I noticed a tattoo peeking out on his shoulder.


“Christmas can be extraordinarily difficult, as we all know,” Timmy mentioned. “It’s not as joyous as it used to be.”


I pressed my lips together, then parted them to emit a sigh.


“It’s Christmas,” I said. “I mean, it’s meant to be magical. It will be magical.”


“Oh darling, you haven’t lived it yet,” Brigitta reminded.


Mitchell would be back by Christmas, surely. He would be there to dance around to carols.


“How about we talk about what we’re doing for Christmas?” Timmy suggested.


“I’ll be at Geoff’s family’s place. Now that we’re back together, I’m sure that’ll be heaps less awkward.”


I giggled.


“Oh, I do have some other good news. I’ve gotten my uni results. I passed everything.”


The group applauded.


“I’m so pleased to hear that, Nina,” Timmy praised.


Eventually, the news bear moved on around the circle, for other people to share their updates from the week.


“Well, I’m lucky I even made it here,” Debbie outlined. “After the wedding, we had some candles which had been personalised and needed to make their way to Alana and Sam’s place, as well as around to the families.”


“That sounds like quite the adventure.”


I finally checked my watch and it was almost eleven. We decided that we ought to leave soon. While the others were dividing up the leftovers, I found myself distracted by my phone. I sent off an email to the RSPCA, via the contact form. Once everything was packed up and the lights were off, I locked the doors and stepped out of the library. When I returned home from the support group meeting, Geoff had been hanging around.


“Hey.” I greeted him with a kiss on the lips. “Thanks for being here.”


“No stress,” he replied. “Have you had any dinner?”


“No, I haven’t, I’ve been at the library since lunchtime.”


Geoff prepared me a meal of leftover pasta in a rich, pomodoro sauce. I scoffed it down, then I lay down in bed with my head on the pillow, beside him. Exhaustion was finally something I could succumb to. As my chest rose and fell with each breath, I felt at peace, on the precipice of drifting off and being able to rest.


“I need to go to sleep.”


Geoff kissed me on the lips, suppressing my giggle, then climbed over me to get out of the bed.


“I’ll see you later.”


Eyes closed, I waved him farewell.


 

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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