There was a lull in the library, between its closure at 5pm and the arrival of the others from the support group, starting from around 6:30. I filled the time with packing away the new returns from the afterhours chute. It was above and beyond what was required, but there was no point going home and then back again.
“Hello, Nina,” Timmy greeted me after he entered through the automatic doors. “How are you this week?”
“Oh, alright,” I answered. “Mum went north to Shoal Bay with Aunty Melissa and Natalie last weekend.”
Before Timmy could respond, the doors parted again and Sofia stepped inside, wearing a coat.
“Hi, Sofia,” I greeted her. “How are you?”
“I’m alright,” she answered with a polite smile.
“Come through,” I urged. “We’ll get the chairs set up for the meeting.”
Sofia helped out.
“How have you been going?” she asked me.
“Yeah, alright, I suppose,” I agreed.
The others arrived. We all sat down, to commence the support group meeting.
“This week, as you’d know, is National Missing Persons Week. Thank you to Aaron for his media interviews earlier in the week.”
He shrugged his shoulders modestly.
“It’s the least I could do.”
I happened to glance over to Lorelai. Her eyes cast down, as they often did. I wanted to ask Lorelai what the matter was, although I really didn’t have to – of course this week would be difficult.
“This is going to stir up all sorts of emotions for us,” Timmy reminded. “Tonight, we have the opportunity to talk.”
He left a moment, in case someone wanted to interject. Nobody did, not straight away. I clenched my hand into a fist and started to shake it, as if the movement would somehow form my words and grant me courage. While I wanted a drink, nobody had brought alcohol. I would have to last throughout the meeting.
“Mitchell shielded me from a lot.”
I breathed out, trying to release the tension in my chest.
“He’s always been my protector. Everything that I think and believe is because of him.”
“Do you think that’s a good thing?”
I smiled wryly.
“Well, I don’t know. It was me and Mitchell and Geoff, and now it’s just Geoff and me, and sometimes that’s nice, but it’s still strange, not having Mitchell around to be there.”
“What’s going on with you and Geoff?” Brigitta wanted to know.
“Oh, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“What would you like to happen?”
“Well, I have feelings for Geoff. I’d like if we could be together. I’ve wanted that for years, but I get it, he’s Mitchell’s best friend, he’s older than me, I get why he wouldn’t want to.”
The confession felt like live electricity. Brigitta smiled, placing her hands together, like a prayer.
“Oh, I remember those days.”
“It’s terrible, but it’s very exciting,” Mick affirmed.
“What about you, Noel? Have you got good memories of your younger, romancing days?”
“I know that time in my life is over now. It’s been over for a long time.”
For a little while, we wheeled over the TV and put on the Commonwealth Games. I was finally able to swim in gold medals and the feelings of joy that come from competitions which exclude Americans. We cheered and we laughed, and we ate and we drank. Eventually, I returned home from the support group. When I got into bed, I rolled onto my bed and closed my eyes. I felt like I was comatose, even though I didn’t fall asleep. Everything that I’d said ran through my mind.
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'.