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Lonely

I ambled through the international terminal at Sydney Airport, beside Suzie. We paused in the queue to check in for her flight.


“You don’t have to stay if you need to go,” Suzie permitted.


“It’s alright.” I briefly checked my watch. “The funeral’s not until this afternoon.”

 

Suzie nodded and we took a step forward, closer to the counter.


“Are you excited?” I asked.


I needed to lighten the mood a little, because there was no reason to drag Suzie down as well.


“Yeah,” she agreed, threading her fingers through her hair. “My only problem is that I might forget my speech.”

 

Suzie giggled nervously.


“Will they mind if you at least peek at your palm cards?” I questioned.


“Oh, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a hanging offence.” Suzie pulled her eyebrows together. “Well, a guillotine something something.”

 

The humour was inappropriate, yet sublime. Once Suzie was called for her flight, I gave her a big hug, then let her go. I needed to return home alone. On the way, I listened to the news on the radio. Perhaps it was a bad idea during the headlines about climate disasters. Maybe it was even more jarring when, following the bulletin, the presenter started talking about planning kids’ parties.

When I returned back home, to change for the funeral, Dad was already gone. The first week of January was one of his regular weeks off work, and thus it would be the boys’ week at Dee Why Beach. I had attended on a few occasions, last time earlier in the year that Mitchell disappeared. My bikini had been ridiculously skimpy, in hindsight, by my own standards of modesty at least. I managed to amble back into the house with a smile, before my face fell, remembering the solemnity of the day. Sofia had lost her brother and Mitchell was still missing. With a heavy sigh, I turned into my bedroom, feeling sick. I dumped my wallet, keys and phone onto the end of the bed, then turned to the wardrobe. Pushing open the door, I stared inside at the clothes hanging from coat-hangers like carcasses in a butcher’s shop. They were still shadowed over, given that the blinds and curtains were still drawn shut. I was frozen for a moment before I got changed into a black dress. Leaving the house, I tried to concentrate while I was driving. I pulled up the car outside the church, parking it and climbing out of the car, before locking it. My gaze surveyed the small crowd assembled under the awning, looking for Mum, Dad and Geoff, as well as Sofia, Ashton and their families. I located them first. Sofia was dressed all in black, her head bowed, with Ashton’s arm around her shoulders, soothing her and keeping her close. I stepped over towards them, yet kept my distance, because I didn’t know what to say. An ache throbbed in my stomach, queasy with sadness. Then, Sofia glanced up, looking straight at me. I continued over, until I was standing directly in front of her.


“I’m so sorry,” I murmured, willing myself to look her in the eye.

 

With Ashton attached, Sofia stepped closer. She embraced me. My body felt rigid, stuck to the floor. It took me a moment to wrap my arms around her. I breathed out slowly as Sofia sobbed into my shoulder. Finally, we parted. We sat down. I grew familiar with the intricacies of a Catholic funeral over the course of the service. At the wake, the brightly-coloured teapot was positioned in the middle of the table. There was a small note beside it, written in Sofia’s father John’s pristine handwriting.


Jarrett decorated this teapot when he was eight years old. He gave it to his father John as a Fathers’ Day present in 2013 and it has been lovingly used by the family ever since.

 

I pressed my lips together and retrieved a cup. After placing it atop a saucer, I carefully poured English breakfast tea into it. We had come together to say goodbye to Jarrett. Eventually, we would have to farewell one another, as well. Even though we would attempt to go back to our regular lives, I knew that a fragment would not be the same again. Just before I did depart, I hugged Sofia tighter than ever before. I returned home. I was sitting at my desk when I noticed the car slowly pull into the driveway. Uncle Sandy would have been coming over to visit after spending the day at Dee Why Beach. I didn’t really feel like spending time with him. It wasn’t personal, I just felt sluggish. Nonetheless, I plastered a smile onto my face. Mum prepared a simple salad for dinner – at least, that was how she described it. I knew that the recipe had come out of a cookbook, because it was at this time of the year, just after Christmas presents had been received, that the fancy ingredients came out. Throughout dinner, I texted Rose, and waited for them to leave. I sat at my desk very late that night. My eye twitched with exhaustion, but I still had more to do. My day wasn’t done just yet. Then, my mobile phone beeped. I glanced over to it on the chest of drawers.


Thinking of you today; Rose had finally replied.


 

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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