We sat around the picnic table at the university, with a cake in the centre. It was a lamington sponge with jam and cream in the centre, the top layer stabbed with a whole packet of different-flavoured lollipops. In celebration of Lexie’s birthday, we sang joyously, then sucked on the lollipops in lieu of candles, and stuffed our faces with cake. Lexie and I ambled back to the train station together, afterwards.
“What abouts are you getting up to for your birthday tomorrow?” I asked, to make conversation.
We both tapped on with our Opal cards, then began strolling down the stairs towards the platform.
“Not much, actually,” Lexie replied.
I bobbed my head in response as we reached the platform and checked the scrolling indicator boards. Both of us sat down on the metal seat, labelled ‘Macquarie University’, given that the train to Epping was still nine minutes away.
“My family doesn’t really celebrate birthdays that much,” Lexie commented.
To me, that sounded to be so incredibly unfortunate.
“I was absolutely blown away by what everybody did today, I feel really special,” Lexie added.
Grinning, I nodded my head, pleased at the gentle smile which she wore.
“You’re most welcome, Lexie,” I insisted, “because you’re a really great friend.”
“Aw, thank you, Nina,” Lexie answered. “You’re too kind.”
I continued smiling. Glancing up, I checked the board, with seven minutes still to go until the train arrived. With a soft sigh of tiredness, I inched back on the seat. I pulled my bag up onto my lap as I crossed my legs. Unzipping it, I retrieved my phone and began scrolling through social media, even though I was using my data.
“What are you doing tonight, Nina?” Lexie wanted to know.
I closed the app as I glanced up, mind blank even though I knew.
“I’m going to Geoff’s house,” I eventually replied.
Reaching Greg and Natalie’s house later that afternoon, I approached the front door. As the screen door was unlocked, I opened it and stepped inside.
“Hello, Nina,” Natalie called out.
I walked through the house to encounter her, feeling safe and warm.
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'.