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Updated: Jul 9, 2023

Absent-mindedly, I strolled through the university. I needed to leave soon to make sure that I arrived at the hockey fields in Parramatta on time, especially considering that we were playing the early game. Rose had offered to give me a lift, so I ambled down towards the administration block.


“Hi, Nina,” Kale called out.


I glanced over and spotted him, waving. We both paused.


“You probably know that it’s the anniversary of Basilia McCallum’s disappearance today,” Kale reminded me.


“I do know that,” I confirmed.


Kale bobbed his head.


“You know, we have a support group on Wednesday evenings,” I began.


“Thank you, Nina, but I didn’t know her that well,” Kale corrected. “We are, though, having a short memorial service in about half an hour. You’re more than welcome to come, if you’d like, Nina.”


“Thank you, Kale, I will,” I vowed, although I couldn’t help but think of Quentin’s wife and children, and how hard this day was for them as well, waiting for their husband and father.


He wasn’t dead, at least as far as we knew, but he may very well have been. I felt like I had a foot in both camps, and I didn’t necessarily enjoy that. Only a few university folk actually gathered for Basilia’s memorial. Kale, myself and a few sports studies students and professors stood around awkwardly, heads bowed.


“Well, we’re here, obviously, to commemorate Basilia McCallum,” Kale reminded. “Basilia, as you would know, disappeared without a trace on this day four years ago.”


The elephant in the sunny garden being used for the memorial was that there was a fair good idea what she had done. Unlike Mitchell, Basilia hadn’t seemingly disappeared into thin air. The university chaplain, Mr Simpson, shifted his weight uncomfortably between his feet. I tried not to look at him out of the corner of my eye.


“Basilia made great contributions to this university,” Kale continued. “She was in her second year out of her Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science which she studied here. We would have all hoped to see what Basilia would achieve in the years ahead, but her time here now concludes with a question mark.”


Following the service, I headed to the carpark. I needed to wash off my thoughts of the day, in order to get to hockey, on a glum and slightly overcast afternoon. If it rained, then the match would be called off, but a part of me doubted that we would actually receive inclement weather. I opened the door.


“Sorry, sorry,” I apologised.


I slipped myself into the passenger seat of Rose’s car. As I fastened my seatbelt, she pulled out of the space in the university staff carpark.


“I went to the memorial for Basilia McCallum,” I confessed. “She’s--.”


“The former Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science student,” Rose finished my sentence, “who went missing four years ago.”


“Did you know her when she was studying here?” I asked.


“I went to primary school and high school with Basilia,” Rose revealed. “We both went to Hurstville Primary School and George’s River Girls High School.”


“Did you go to George’s River Girls High School?” I questioned.


“Correct,” Rose confirmed.


As we drove to the field, rain started to teem down, and by the time we arrived, the game had been cancelled. Therefore, Rose kindly dropped me to work. I worked the shift without incident, going through the motions. It finally stopped raining around the time that the library closed, the clouds clearing away just as the sun was going down. Preparing for the support group meeting, I was keenly aware of the anniversary of Quentin’s disappearance. Waiting in a plastic seat, my eyes were fixed on the doorway. Through the glass panels I peered out at the dark night, waiting uncomfortably for Aaron to arrive, in the hope that he would come. A figure appeared on the other side of the doors. Yet, I let out a sigh when it was Jamie who passed through the automatic doors and entered the library, fiddling with his scarf.


“Hello,” Jamie greeted us.


“Hello,” I echoed.


“Are you alright, Nina?” Jamie asked, drawing his eyebrows together.


“Yeah,” I replied, a little shallowly. “I was at the footy with Aaron last weekend. He didn’t exactly take that kindly to the result. I think that he’s taking it personally.”


Jamie took the seat beside me.


“Aaron’s a Sharkies’ fan, yeah?” he sought clarification.


“Yes,” I confirmed, before lowering my voice, “and Joel, his brother, went missing walking back to the train station from a Sharks match.”


The automatic doors buzzed and we looked towards them. Yet, the first time, it wasn’t Dean, but Zipporah, coming along by herself, having left Natalia and baby Jemima at home. As she came through and sat down, it occurred to me that over a year had passed since the pregnant teenager first turned up here, alongside her elated, long-lost mother. The room seemed to still when Dean entered, wearing a royal blue jacket. He padded into the library and took one of the remaining seats, between Zipporah and Lorelai.


“Thank you to all of you who came this afternoon,” Dean addressed us. “It was most appreciated. Especially for the children, it’s very important to keep Quentin’s memory alive and to make them feel like their father’s still around.”


He cleared his throat, then relaxed in his seat. I gulped, not sure whether or not to speak about Basilia, and the memorial which had been held for her at the university. She was still a missing person, and she’d still lived and loved and been valuable in other people’s lives.


 

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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