As I awoke this morning, I rolled over. The rush of Easter hit me, even though I doubted there would be chocolate eggs scattered throughout the house. I was too old for that now, or more like Mitchell wouldn’t be around to make sure that they were distributed. Instead, Geoff came down from his place, to prepare for us to head to Goulburn. As I ran out the door, I didn’t kiss Mum goodbye. Geoff shut the boot, then ambled around to the driver’s door and slipped into the car, closing the door behind him. He fastened his seatbelt, then checked the rear vision mirror. I thought that maybe I should have gone back, but I didn’t. Instead, I slipped into the car, on the passenger side, my heart not my own. It never had been, though.
“Are you good to go?”
“I wish you weren’t leaving.”
“It’s not going to be too long.”
We hit the road, Geoff manoeuvring through suburbia. He accelerated when he took the highway, placing us on course for Goulburn, via a stop-off at a bakery in another country town. Geoff went inside and bought for me a caramel slice and a milkshake, in a pin-striped cup with a black plastic straw. The slice tasted sweet, lashings of caramel finding their way onto the corners of my mouth. Geoff thumbed at the crumbs, big smile on his face. I washed it down with milkshake, sucking on the straw even as I grinned. This wasn’t a season-specific treat, but an Easter treat all the same. Refuelled, the two of us hit the road again, a perfect, blue-skied autumn day unfurled before us. I twirled hair around my finger like I used to do when I was little. The closer we got to Goulburn, the fuzzier the music sounded. I found myself fiddling with the knobs for the radio, finding a new station.
“Nina Margaret, Nina Margaret del Reyan,” Geoff echoed my name, then flicked on his blinker so that he could overtake the truck in front.
I considered bringing up Mitchell.
“I love you, Nina.”
He’d said it before, no doubt, but every time I heard those words was like the very first.
“I love you too.”
Geoff pulled back into the left-hand lane.
“If we were having a baby, how quickly would you want to let other people know?”
“I think that I’d want to tell people right away,” I mused.
Noticing a flash of grey, I thought I saw a bilby. It would have been perfect for Easter.
“You’ll be twenty-four at your next birthday.”
A part of me didn’t want to have a baby until after I finished uni. As he didn’t continue the conversation for the rest of the journey, then neither did I. Geoff pulled up the car outside his accommodation.
“I’m glad that I have this week off. It would have been better if it was last week, though. I could have spent it with you.”
Touching my fingertips to his skin, I ran them down the crook of his collarbone.
“I’m not going to be away forever. You’ll find plenty to do without me.”
I nodded, because I sensed that he was trying to reassure me, like he was afraid of my threatened sadness. I followed Geoff into the place. We got him set up in what looked like a motel room, for his time as a trainer in Goulburn. Faintly I thought I could hear church bells. It would have been nice to attend a service for Easter, but I didn’t want to go alone. Maybe if I just asked, someone else would have come with me. A shadow ripped through my body, but I expected I would relax, once Geoff held me again. We stumbled back out to the car, hand in hand. I felt the cool air of the autumn day on my cheeks. Geoff would have to rug up for his time out of the city. He kissed me on the lips, then withdrew. My fragility must have been worn like a scarf, because a ripple twisted across Geoff’s forehead. Perhaps I was just distracted, by what would happen when I got home.
“Are you sure you’re alright to head back?”
“Well, I kind of have to be, don’t I?”
Geoff’s face fell, but I laughed to show that I was joking.
“I love you, and I’ll see you again in no time whatsoever,” I promised, and he did too.
In the car on the way back from Goulburn, I turned off the radio and simply listened to the sound of the tyres over the road. Around Bowral, tears were streaming down my cheeks, mascara splashing. I sucked in a breath hard through my nose, swishing one hand and then the other across my face, like windscreen wipers. I’d be fine. The overwhelm would pass. I returned back home and leaned back. A part of me was tempted to scroll on my phone, rather than heading inside. Instead, I quickly checked myself in the rear-vision mirror, then bundled up my things.
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'.