We had arranged to go over to Uncle Julio’s house – that’s Dad’s cousin – a little while ago. As soon as we were all awake, we got ready and packed into the car. Lunch at Uncle Julio’s house had been our familiar ritual. Just because Mitchell was missing, that would not change. Nonetheless, the car trip was quiet, with nobody saying a word. I retrieved my mobile phone.
En route to Uncle Julio’s. I feel empty. Can you come? I need back up with these people at the best of times.
My text message to Geoff was scathing, admittedly. Uncle Julio and his family were kind, but I found Aunty Caroline’s extended family intimidating. Dad pulled up outside the cottage. Uncle Julio was his cousin and they were really close, almost as close as brothers. Often Dad was closer to his cousin than to his actual brother, Uncle Carlos. Perhaps that was how the tradition of having lunch at his house had developed, and I tried to think of when we had first started. It would have been not long after their daughter, Chloe, was born. I would have been about thirteen or fourteen then, with Mitchell five years my senior. Aunty Caroline was ten years younger than Uncle Julio, which was part of the reason why my cousin, of sorts, was so much littler than the both of us. Finally, my phone buzzed within my hand. With the jolt of a startle, I checked the screen.
Will be there. Geoff xx
My heart swelled at the kisses at the end of the message, compelling me to rise my phone to my face. After holding it there for a moment, I lowered it again. Tired, emotional and coursing with adrenaline, I had wanted to kiss the screen. Yet, I resisted, because Mum and Dad were in the car, and I didn’t want them to know. Mitchell had known the way that I felt about Geoff, for a number of years. Once I focused on my phone again, I realised that I had bumped the buttons with my facial features, meaning that my text message conversation with Mitchell was visible on the screen. It had been Thursday afternoon, before that Saturday.
What time are you starting work this evening?
Mitchell had told me, and it had been too early for me to visit after uni. I gripped my phone tightly in my hands, holding on for dear life.
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'.