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Updated: Apr 4, 2022

When morning dawned, I nearly expecting Mitchell to be waiting in the kitchen. He might have been eating honey toast, spilling crumbs down his front, either of his nurses’ scrubs or his casual gear for a day out with Geoff. Yet, this morning, there was nobody in the kitchen, which felt eerily cold. I opened the fridge and stared into it for a few moments, absent-minded, instead of getting breakfast. Dad’s footsteps thudded down the hallway. He appeared in the entrance to the kitchen. I glanced up and pressed the fridge door closed.

“What do we do now?” I wanted to know.

It was a desperate plea. Dad stepped to the side. He placed the palms of his hands flat down atop the short wall bordering the kitchen bench and pressed his lips together in thought.

“I don’t know.” Dad shook his head. “I don’t know.”

Mum ambled out to the kitchen. I was about to speak, when the phone rang in the study. It startled me. My heart thudded as I raced towards it, answering the call.

“Hello, Nina del Reyan speaking.”

“Hello Nina.”

It was my older cousin, Hayley. I breathed out. She would not have news.

“I’m so very sorry to hear about Mitchell,” Hayley said. “We’re all very sorry. We really hope that he comes home soon, wherever he is.”

I leaned back against the wall.

“What do you think might have happened to Mitchell?” I asked, desperately.

“I don’t know if you don’t know,” Hayley admitted, then allowed herself a soft laugh. “Mitchell never was, you know--.”

She trailed off, and I nodded with agreement. When the home phone rang, my pulse intensified. It thudded like a drum beat as I raced into the study and answered the call.

“Hello, Nina del Reyan speaking.” I was already breathless.

“Hello Nina.” At the sound of Aunty Melissa’s voice, I exhaled. “Have you heard any news?”

“No.” I shook my head and left it at that.

Aunty Melissa took a pause before she spoke.

“I was also calling because it’s Stuart’s birthday next Saturday,” Aunty Melissa reminded. “We were wondering what we might do for it.”

Mum walked into the study and held up a note in front of my face.

We’ll book at the club; it read.

“Mum says we’ll book at the club,” I relayed. “She’ll handle it. It should be a good night.”

“Thanks, Greta,” Aunty Melissa called out to Mum, as if she was in the same room.

I briefly moved the phone away from my ear.

“Aunty Melissa says thank you,” I told Mum.

She gave a momentary smile. I placed the phone back against my ear.

“Just remember, Stuart's mother will be coming as well,” Aunty Melissa added. “So you’ll have to have another one. And I’m not sure--.”

She trailed off.

“Don’t worry about it, Nina,” Aunty Melissa insisted. “I’ll be over again soon to bring some more food while you need it.”

“Thank you, Aunty Melissa,” I responded. “See you later.”

“See you later, Nina.” Aunty Melissa ended the call.

I lowered the phone from my ear and placed it back into the cradle.

“I’ll take the phone,” Mum requested. “I’ll ring the club straight away.”

I picked it up again and handed the phone over. Mum sat down at the desk and flipped open the phone book. She found the number for the club and made a call, booking the table. I studied for the afternoon, then Greg, Natalie and Geoff arrived for dinner. We ate, with little conversation.

“There isn’t any news,” Geoff mentioned.

“You know, I keep on checking the bank app on his phone,” Mum confessed. “I don’t know whether or not I should be, but it hasn’t been touched. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not sure.”

“If he’s using his bank--.”

“Then he’s alive.”

“Or someone has access to his bank account.”

“Are there any more leads from the security camera footage?”

Geoff shook his head.

“No, there haven’t been.”

There was music playing, which I hadn’t so much noticed before, but seemed to be louder and louder, even though I knew that it was just an illusion of my own mind – it was just irritating me more.

“I’m sorry, I’m going to go to bed.”

I left the table and snuggled up in bed. After not long, Geoff appeared in the doorway.

“Would you like a curl pat?”

“Yes, please,” I agreed with a smile.

Geoff started threading his fingers through my hair.

“I promise,” I murmured, “if you don’t want to stay, you don’t have to. Greg and Natalie have already gone home.”

“I have my own car,” Geoff reminded, “and I want to make sure that you sleep soundly.”

I smiled up at him, dreamily.

“Thank you, Geoff, I really appreciate it,” I gushed sleepily. “I--.”

I trailed off, not wanting to confess too much. We fell silent for a while and my breathing became more laboured.

“Nina, we’re going to find Mitchell,” Geoff vowed. “Most missing people turn up. There’ll be an explanation.”


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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