I arrived at Delilah and Nahum’s cottage in Canterbury. Letting myself in upon her called request, I ambled down the hall. In the open-plan dining room and kitchen, documents were spread out over the kitchen table, almost entirely covering its varnished wooden surface. The glossy pages were adorned with tropical scenery.
“We’re honeymoon planning,” Delilah revealed, smiling up at me before glancing back at the table. “We have to get all our documents in order. It’s more complicated because we’re travelling on passports from different countries.”
She gestured towards the matching vintage chairs.
“Take a seat, Nina,” she offered. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
I sat down.
“That would be lovely, thank you.”
“Coming right up.”
I listened to the jug boil. There were other things I could be doing with my morning off, before a busy afternoon with hockey and work, but I tried to push them from my mind. The steaming cup of rooibos was placed down in front of me, and I smiled.
“I mean, I’d love to go to South Africa,” Delilah mentioned.
She sat down. I eventually took a sip from my tea, the steam damp against my rosy cheeks. Given that Delilah’s family ran a tea business, it shouldn’t have surprised me that she produced such a delicious brew.
“Would you like something to eat?”
“Oh, thank you. That would be lovely.”
“It has been nice to get to know you a bit better,” Delilah mentioned.
I sensed that she was choosing her words carefully. While I could have met Delilah’s caution with silence, instead I chose to be authentic and smiled.
“I feel like you get to learn all this gossip from other people’s lives through the support group,” I mused, which was already saying too much, “so that can be an interesting experience. I’m someone who generally doesn’t like knowing people’s secrets. It’s far too much pressure.”
Delilah laughed, making me feel seen. We tucked into scones which could rival the CWA. After about an hour, I made tracks, driving up to leave my car at work. There, Rose picked me up so that we could travel together, which was quite kind of her. I didn’t make much small talk on the way over, wanting to preserve my energy for the match. Rose pulled up at the hockey field in Parramatta and we climbed out of the car, retrieving our bags from the backseat. She locked the car as we ambled over towards the amenities building, where the other players were already assembling. We waved to greet them, before dumping our bags in the shade against the brick wall. I got down to the concrete slab. Removing my sneakers, I pressed my bright pink shin pad onto my leg. Then, I pulled my long socks onto my feet and up over my knees. I pushed my feet back into my sneakers again before unzipping the front pocket of my bag, from which I retrieved my over-chewed mouthguard from its small plastic case. Rose stepped over.
“Ready?” she asked.
I nodded as I dropped my case back into my bag, before zipping it up. We moved out onto the field for the game, which we drew one-all in a tight tousle. By the time I arrived at the library for work, I was the opposite of sweaty. It had frozen quickly enough. I slipped myself through the automatic doors, then meandered behind the counter. Opening the door to the small staffroom, I entered the toilet and changed from my hockey uniform into my work clothes, which were much warmer. Throwing my head back, I snaked my fingers through the pink locks before curling back into a bun. I exited the toilet with my clothes tucked under my arm. Dumping them on the seat, I shoved them into my bag. I hooked it onto the wall in front of my face, then retrieved my name badge and pinned it carefully onto my light blue blouse. After a deep breath, I stepped back out onto the library floor. I worked for the afternoon. Geoff sent me a quick text in affirmation, around the time the library closed.
Thank you; I replied, then prepared for the meeting, getting out the chairs while the others were making their way in.
Zipporah was the first to take the news bear, once the support group meeting got underway.
“It’s funny, you know, because I don’t really have anything to tell you about this week,” she admitted. “I’d really love to. Meeting someone would be nice, I’d never say no to that.”
Zipporah laughed, mostly to herself.
“I’m not going to make any promises,” Debbie insisted.
“Oh, do you think that you’ve found someone for me?” Zipporah quipped, but her smile faltered, when she realised she was correct.
“There’s a nice young man at my work, I think he’d be a good fit for you.”
“But, you know, I’m not saying I’m any good at playing matchmaker.”
Zipporah breathed out. It seemed like she had a decision to make.
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'.