As Geoff promised, we collected my car in the morning. From there we set off towards Goulburn. I felt a little queasy in the back of the car. Lest I be accused of being hungover, I didn’t mention that to Mum and Dad. Eventually, we stopped off in Bowral and got out of the car. Geoff and I wandered over towards each other.
“Are you feeling alright?”
“Good,” Geoff replied.
I found myself thinking of Mitchell. We walked down the main street. I longed to hold Geoff’s hand, but I knew that wouldn’t be an option – he’d find it weird, he hadn’t even let me lean against his chest at the wedding while we were dancing together. Therefore, I kept an acceptable distance as we looped back in the direction of the car, then completed the final leg of the journey. Dad pulled up the car in Goulburn, beside Greg and Natalie’s. I unfastened my seatbelt. We stepped out of the car and into the sunny day. Greg, Natalie and Geoff ambled out of their car. Geoff opened the boot. From it, he carefully retrieved his large cricket bag, which was doubling as a suitcase. Geoff grabbed his police cap. He placed it snugly on his head, then closed the hatch again. We looked between each other.
“Alright,” Geoff announced, “let’s get in there and then we can grab some lunch.”
After Dad and Natalie locked their cars, we followed after Geoff. We exited the carpark and ambled towards the brick buildings where he would be staying for the next fortnight. Geoff fetched the keys from his pocket. He separated them with his teeth. Geoff pressed the correct key into the lock and twisted it, but the door didn’t easily open. He grunted. We all stood behind Geoff, an absence noticeable beside him, where Mitchell would have stood. In the previous year, it had been Mitchell who had helped Geoff with the tricky door, which had been closed too long. This year, when Geoff glanced over his shoulder, there was nobody there. Instinctively, I scurried forward to fill the void. Geoff passed forward into his room, sunlight catching the dust which swirled through the space.
“All I really need to do is dump my bag,” he noted, placing it down. “Now we can have lunch.”
We left the police academy and found a café that was open. A waitress led us towards a table for six, with a nice view over the street.
I sat down and flipped open the menu. The waitress returned not long after. We went around the table and ordered our food. I chose a burger and chips.
“And can I get you any drinks?”
“Could I please have a chocolate milkshake?” I requested.
As the others made their drink orders, I couldn’t help but think about uni. There was so much work which I could have been doing, which sapped some of the joy out of having a nice lunch in Bowral, and being with my family and Geoff’s family at Eastertime. I spotted the waitress across the café, carrying plates to our table.
“The veggie burger and chips,” she noted, as she placed down my meal in front of me.
“Spinach and ricotta tart.”
Mum smiled towards the waitress to jog her memory, and she handed over the plate. We ate our food with somewhat haste and little conversation, having felt rather peckish. After the meal, Dad went inside to pay.
“I’ll fix you up,” Natalie promised.
When we returned from lunch, a police car was parked out the front. This didn’t surprise me.
“I’m sorry, Geoff,” Brad apologised as he emerged from it. “We need to question you again, so we can investigate all possibilities. Mate, the last thing that I think is true is that you would have done anything to harm Mitchell, but as far as we can tell, you’re the last person to have seen him alive.”
“Nina,” he reasoned, “both you and I want Mitchell to come home alive.”
“Of course, we do.”
Therefore, Brad followed Geoff into his room. I looked at Mum and Dad, wanting to stay.
“Look, Nina, there’s nothing Geoff’s going to say that we don’t already know. He can call you if there’s any news. I don’t want a late night tonight.”
With a nod of my head, I agreed. I got back into the car, but I didn’t want to. By the time I got back home, the last thing that I wanted to do was study. Instead, I got into bed and scrolled through Instagram. Eventually I put down my phone and fell asleep.
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'.