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Freedom

I woke up this morning with a smile on my face, in my regular bed downstairs at Greg and Natalie’s house. My sinuses felt blocked, so I rolled over. I heard footsteps coming down the hallway. Geoff climbed onto the bed, on top of the covers, giving me arms and a chest to lean into.


“Hello,” I greeted him in something of a muffled voice, owing to my tiredness.


“Hey,” Geoff replied. “Are you feeling OK?”


“Yeah, I’m fine, I’ll be fine,” I assured him.


I lay there, while Geoff stroked his fingers through my hair. In the distance I could hear the radio from the kitchen, indicating that at least one of Greg or Natalie were already up.


“We probably do need to get up eventually.”


“Yeah.”


I hauled myself off the bed.


“Yeah.”


Geoff walked down the hallway. I pulled off my nightie and replaced it with day clothes. Once I strolled out to the kitchen, Natalie had started to prepare eggs for breakfast.


“Good morning,” she greeted me, turning the radio down a little bit.


“Hey,” I replied, still sounding a little tired.


I poured myself a glass of orange juice and one for Geoff, too. After about five minutes, Natalie placed breakfast onto the table.


“Thank you, this looks delicious,” I gushed as I sat down, ready to eat.


“How are things going with Grease, Nina?” Natalie wanted to know.


“We’ve still got a couple more months of rehearsals.” I dipped one of my soldiers into my egg. “It’s all going well, though. It doesn’t take much practise to learn how to sway in the back.”


I offered a self-depreciating giggle, before placing the toast into my mouth, dripping with golden egg yolk.


“Oh, I’m sure that you’re fantastic. Have they sorted out what they’re going to do about tickets?”


“Ah, no, not yet, I don’t think,” I answered, “but I should look into that.”


“Thank you, we’d love to come, if we can,” Natalie assured me, before taking a bite of toast.


“That would be great to have you there,” I promised her.


It felt good to think of them coming along. Natalie seemed to genuinely care about my involvement in the musical, even though I’m nothing special. I would have reached for my phone, but I must have left it in the other room. We finished eating our food, which I washed down with the last of my orange juice. Natalie collected the plates from the table, to a chorus of our thanks, and started to pack them into the dishwasher. Greg got up to help her, while Geoff and I stayed sitting down. He fiddled with the skin on the back of my hand. I would have gotten up to help, but I sensed Geoff’s anxiety, so stayed put.


“Where would you like to live?” I asked.


“Well, I like it here,” Geoff answered.


I laughed.


“No, I mean down the track. Would you want to live close by?”


Geoff shrugged his shoulders.


“I don’t know what it’s like to live anywhere else.”


I flashed Geoff a delicious grin. His hand slipped from mine, hot light shining in through the lace curtains.


“Yeah, neither do I,” I admitted.


I got up from the table, while Greg was making coffee. Dad called, and agreed to come and pick me up. I pottered around, getting organised. When I heard his car come into the driveway, I grabbed my bag from the bedroom. We shifted out onto the front porch. I pecked Geoff on the lips to bid him farewell, then clanged my bag down to the car. Dad had opened the boot, so that I could slot it straight in, then get into the front seat, the roof of his convertible down.


“How are you going?” I asked Dad as he reversed out of the driveway.


Before he could answer, I turned up the radio, so that I could properly listen.


“Yes, he was the young Sydney man who disappeared from Dee Why Beach, really tragic story. We have an interview with his sister which we’ll replay after the news.”


I swallowed, realising I couldn’t compartmentalise as if it had happened to someone else. In the evening, I pulled up outside Brigitta’s small house in Harris Park, a bottle of wine strapped into the passenger seat. I unfastened my seatbelt, then breathed out. Peering out over the steering wheel, the sky was darkening. Finally, I opened the door, retrieving the keys. I stepped out onto the nature strip, covered in grass browned by the warming spring. Shutting the door behind me, I walked around the back of the car and retrieved the bottle of wine, with a ribbon tied around it. I collected my handbag and slung it over my shoulder. After locking the car, I ambled up the pathway and stepped up onto the porch, knocking on the front door. I breathed out again, waiting. My heart throbbed within my chest. Eventually, I heard footsteps scurrying along the hallway and Brigitta opened it, wearing a floral apron.


“Hello,” she greeted. “Come inside, thanks for coming.”


 

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'.


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