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Counting

“My goodness, Nina, it’s after 1am,” Geoff commented.


He padded back down the stairs into the living room.


“You can go home and get some sleep if you want,” I permitted, “I don’t reckon I’ll be going to bed for a long, long time”.


Geoff let out a chuckle as he sat down beside me on the lounge.


“We’ll finish this set and then I might have to call it a night,” he told me, “I do have a late shift tomorrow.”


“Alright.”


I felt a little disappointed, even though my tiredness suppressed that emotion. Geoff picked up one of the copies of Shakespeare’s plays which needed to be covered and stickered for the library. I watched his hands as he laid out the contact. Geoff smoothed it over the covers.


“You’re perfect,” I praised. “You seem to do that without even trying.”

Geoff applied the Baulkham Hills Library stickers. He placed down the book, without looking.


“I’d say that it’s practice, but it’s not, really. I’m just doing my best.”


“I suppose that when you’re fighting crime by day, covering books by night would be quite relaxing.”


Geoff leaned back against the lounge.


“Yeah, it’s like meditation.”


I giggled, my heart beating so fast that my body could have burst.


“Well, thank you for meditating with me.”


“It’s alright. Maybe I should become a librarian.”


“Oh, I don’t know. Apparently sitting is the new smoking.”


We both leaned in at the same moment, like we’d been waiting for this chance all our short lives. Geoff’s lips brushed against mine. My fingers crept into his blonde hair, waiting there, although not pulling him any closer, letting him choose to deepen the kiss, which was just what he did. For a few moments afterward, I couldn’t open my eyes, giggling with glee. When I finally looked Geoff in the eye, I panted, then we kissed again, like breathing was a luxury. Finally, we parted for air, foreheads pressed together.


“Wow, that was something,” Geoff remarked, his voice hoarser than usual.


“Yeah.”


“I probably should go.”


Geoff got up, my heart sinking. Maybe that meant nothing to him. I could feel my torso shaking.


“Geoff.”


He spun around, standing on the wooden floorboards.


“Would you like to stay, please?”


It only would have been a second, before Geoff grinned. I leaned forward a little, desperately waiting for him to speak, to say something, anything.


“Come over here and make me.”


I laughed, rising to my feet. Geoff wrapped his arm around my waist once I was within his reach, and I kissed him. Somehow my own arms ended up slung around his neck, feeling at home. Being held stopped me from falling.


“We’ve got to be quiet, we’ll wake my parents.”


“I should head off home, then.”


“Alright, I’ll see you later. Thank you. Thanks for everything.”


“My pleasure.”


Geoff departed our house quietly. With a sinking feeling, I turned off the television, then the light. I scampered through the dark, up through the house to my bedroom, where I tucked myself under the covers. Despite my stomach flipping, I fell asleep. Somehow, I managed to sleep through the night, not waking until morning. Once I did come to, I rolled onto my side. I reached for my phone and started to scroll through Instagram, just as something to do to wake my brain up for the morning and distract me. I happened upon a quote, with the font in black on a white background. The pixels seemed to swim while I read the graphic.


“I must confess, there are moments where I sit and wonder what my life would be if you were still here.”


I double-tapped the post to like it, then put down my phone, the ceiling swimming above me. Staying up half the night was a bad idea for my stamina, but my heart thumped at the thought. I got out of bed and pushed myself through the house. Making my way out to the kitchen, I fetched a glass of water. I thought about calling Geoff, to hear his voice, and to clear the air. He would be at work though, so I knew that he wouldn’t have the time. Somehow, I passed the day. I took the initiative to travel up to the Devereux house in the evening, for Friday night dinner.


“Come on in, Nina,” Natalie invited, stepping aside so that I could enter the house.


I walked inside, then started heading through towards the kitchen table like usual. Natalie ducked into the kitchen, where she’d already made a start on dinner. I noticed a bouquet of small yellow roses, in a vase on the kitchen bench.


“Is Geoff home from work yet?”


“No, he’s not, he’s working late.”


“Oh, of course, he did tell me that.”


I breathed out, twisting the mood ring I was wearing, as it changed colour.


“Your mum and dad will be here sooner rather than later. Would you like something to drink?”


“Yeah, alright,” I agreed, fidgeting.


“I’ll get it, take a seat.”


Once I sat down, Natalie provided me with a glass of orange juice.


“How’s the support group been going?”


“Yeah, alright, good,” I answered, taking a sip from my juice. “Ashton Fernando’s alive, he’s back in Australia. I met him on Wednesday night, he came along to the support group meeting with Sofia.”


Natalie smiled and returned to the kitchen, as we heard tyres roll into the carport.


“That’ll be Geoff.”


She removed the tray from the oven.


“It might be, if he’s gotten an early mark from work.”


I burst up from my chair and scampered over, pulse thumping throughout my body.


“Nina,” Geoff greeted me at the front door of his house.


“Geoff,” I responded, pausing just before the screen door.


“Would you like to go for a walk?” Geoff offered.


I nodded once.


“Yes,” I confirmed, then Geoff opened the screen door and I stepped down onto the porch as it closed it again behind me, with a click.


He slipped his hand into mine, our fingers linking as tingles ran through my body. Geoff led me down the steps, then out from the carport and around the corner.


“Nina.” He turned into me, so that we were facing each other. “I love you, Nina.”


All in a rush, I breathed out, my face blossoming into a grin.


“I love you too, Geoff,” I confirmed.


Geoff nodded his head once.


“I know,” he admitted. “Mitchell told me.”


 

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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