I looked out through the window at the open fields and the vast blue sky. Only a couple of fluffy clouds hovered in the distance. A smile crept onto my lips at the beautiful countryside, just outside of Goulburn.
Look at it, Nina. I could hear Mitchell saying. Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t God glorious? We’re so blessed Nina. I love you.
He’d kiss my cheek and beam. It wouldn’t be long; I was sure of it, and that’s what kept me smiling. Finally, Dad took the exit off the highway towards Goulburn, where we were visiting Geoff. He drove through the town, towards the campus where Geoff was staying. He was teaching down there at the police academy for two weeks, as he had done for a few years, just after Easter. When Dad pulled into the familiar carpark, Geoff was waiting. He stood with his arms folded. Geoff wore a black baseball cap, white T-shirt and beige shorts, but no smile. Dad parked near him, with Natalie pulling up beside our car. As soon as we’d stopped, I carefully opened my door and stepped out into the carpark. Instinctively, I rushed towards Geoff and we embraced. I felt safe in his arms. When Geoff hugged me, I started feeling just a little bit more alright.
“I can’t believe it’s been another week,” I murmured.
“I can’t believe it either,” Geoff replied.
We finally parted. I shook my head, then sighed.
“Please tell me what you’ve been up to,” I begged. “I really hope that you’ve been enjoying it.”
“I have, I must admit,” Geoff confirmed.
He placed one arm around my shoulders, then turned to Mum, Dad, Greg and Natalie, who’d gathered.
“Come here,” Geoff beckoned, shaking his head.
We compressed into a large, tight hug, with myself in the middle. I remembered being little, when Mum and Mitchell would sandwich me into cuddles. He had a scent of his own, something which I couldn’t quite decipher exactly what it smelled like. The scent was something like strawberries and vanilla, but that wasn’t really accurate. Within this hug, I was warm, but the smell of Mitchell was absent. He was not there, and it couldn’t be masked. Finally, we parted and I was exposed again to the bright light of the autumn day. It was blinding.
“Come on,” Geoff decided. “Let’s get some lunch.”
We started ambling away.
“There’s one café open until three o’clock,” Geoff mentioned. “They have pretty good food here.”
We curved around the empty administration building, then reached the quiet café.
“Table for seven, please,” Geoff asked, then shook his head. “Sorry, six. Actually, seven.”
The waitress blinked at him.
“Seven, please,” Geoff insisted.
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'.