Dad pulled his car in under the carport. We emerged from the vehicle, to head inside for our regular Friday night dinner with the Devereux family. When we approached the front door, as Dad locked the car behind him, I offered a polite knock. The door was unlocked and this was like a second home to us, so I entered, with Mum and Dad trailing behind me. From the dining area, I could hear Natalie on the phone.
“Well, I’m glad that you’ve had a lovely family day,” she farewelled. “That’s just Greta and Leo and the kids coming in, so I’ll have to let you go.”
Natalie ended the call and placed the phone back on the hook.
“Thanks for coming,” she said. “I haven’t put tea on yet.”
“How can I help?” Mum wanted to know.
I was feeling a little under the weather. Therefore, I didn’t offer assistance, even though guilt crept into me.
“You can chop up the potatoes, if you like, thank you.”
Mum accepted the task willingly, chopping as she chatted.
“You know, today’s the anniversary of when Greg proposed to me,” Natalie mentioned.
We both glimpsed her engagement ring – a three-stone set in yellow gold.
“I remember the day that Leo proposed like it was yesterday.”
“You know, the photos of that are probably upstairs.”
Mum handed a tray of potatoes across the kitchen, so that Natalie could pop them into the oven.
“I’ll have to look for them later.”
After twenty-five minutes in the oven, the potatoes were ready. Mum retrieved them from the oven. She dished them up onto the plates with the rest of the food. I heard a car swish down the street. Greg, Natalie and Geoff’s street is much busier than where I live. I found myself a little transfixed by the traffic for a bit. We sat down for dinner at the kitchen table.
“What have you been up to this week, Nina?” Natalie wanted to know.
“Oh, just the regular,” I answered.
All I could think about was Mitchell. Once we’d finished eating, the guys peeled away from the table, a football match calling on the television. Mum scampered upstairs, so that she could look for the photo she was referencing. I could hear grunts and groans coming from the TV room, riding every high and low on the match unfolding in the pixels before them. I slipped into the kitchen, to help Natalie pack the plates into the dishwasher.
“How are you going with your uni?” she asked me.
“Yeah, good,” I answered.
I reached for a tea towel and dried my hands.
“I’ve been seeing a counsellor at the university,” I told Natalie. “She’s the one I called the other week. Her name is Rose and, I mean, she’s very good to me. Perhaps I need something more, I don’t know.”
“It’s alright for you to seek help, Nina,” she told me. “You’re going through something difficult.”
We returned to the TV room where Geoff, Dad and Greg were watching the footy. I found a spot to sit on the carpet, with my knees bent and my back resting against the wall.
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'.