I strolled over the hill. Around my feet, the long grass swayed. When I reached the crest, I noticed Debbie. She was seated cross-legged on the grass with a basketball in her lap.
“Hey,” I greeted quietly.
Debbie looked over her shoulder and greeted me with a small smile. I approached and sat down beside her.
“I brought a basketball because Jason loved playing basketball with the girls,” Debbie explained.
“They’re coming too, after work,” Debbie added.
She glanced towards her watch, with a pale blue band.
“They should be here soon,” Debbie mentioned. “Thank you for coming, Nina. You’re a good stick, you know. You’re always here for all of us.”
“Well, I’m not an expert, but I know what it’s like.”
“The pain is the freshest for you.”
I nodded my head, as the wind blew in my hair. While I was searching for a response, my phone rang, so I fetched it from my bag, noticing that the call was from Mum.
“I’ve got to answer this.”
I stepped away from the group.
“Is everything alright?” I checked, trying not to pant over the phone.
“Yes. Are you out at the moment?”
I sighed softly. Not wanting to seem disappointed, I hid the sound with a yawn.
“Yeah, I’m at the picnic. Are you going to come?”
She told me that she wasn’t able to, given that she was still at work. I ended the call with Mum, promising that I would pick up some groceries on the way home. Returning to the others, I retuned myself to the conversation.
“You know, I never would have described it as heartbreak.”
That said, I couldn’t think of another way of putting it. I’d had my heart broken in a romantic sense, too, which also stung, but not as deeply. Of course, for me, the two issues were intwined. I heard a car pull up in the nearby parking area. Glancing over, I noticed Clementine emerge from it. She ambled over. The same was true for Clementine – her heart had been broken by having the love of her life disappear. I wasn’t sure how someone could recover from that. Clementine kissed Debbie on the top of the head as she sat down.
“How are you feeling today?” she wanted to know, shifting her sunglasses onto her hair.
Debbie breathed out.
“I generally think that we have a lot in common,” Brigitta mentioned, “but hearing you speak about Jason just now--.”
“You know, I had a wedding with my first husband.”
“And I had one with Jerry.”
I glanced across the rolling grasses. It occurred to me that it would have been nice to be having a drink in the unseasonably warm, almost summery setting, although the hard stuff was not available to me. Eventually, the picnic came to a close and I returned home, via the supermarket, which seemed to impress my mother. I waited behind the blinds for Mum and Dad to leave for dinner. After waiting a few moments, I checked to ensure that their car was gone. Then, I called Rose, trudging over to bed and lying down in wait.
“Hi, Nina,” she answered after a while. “Wait a minute, just let me transfer the call over to the handsfree in the car. Just a sec.”
I cleared my throat, saying nothing while I followed Rose’s instructions.
“There we go,” she eventually spoke up again. “Can you hear me again now, Nina?”
“Yes,” I confirmed. “I can. Are you just leaving the uni now?”
“Yes,” Rose answered. “What can I do for you?”
“Can you please come over and bring takeaway?” I requested. “I’ll pay you.”
Rose laughed incredulously.
“Just for the takeaway or for spending time with you as well?” she checked.
“Well, both, if you want,” I permitted. “I don’t mind. Mum and Dad have gone for dinner at Greg and Natalie’s house and they said that I can’t buy my own takeaway. If you buy it and then I buy it from you, that would be alright, though, I think.”
Rose chuckled again, and I could hear her indicator clicking.
“You’re a grown adult, Nina,” she reminded. “I’m not going to tell you how to live your life.”
Anger, I knew, was not helpful for anyone. It felt surprising, though, that there was no sense of direction around the right way to live. Rose and I finished on the phone around the time I heard a car in the driveway. I shuddered at the sound of a knock at my bedroom door. Somewhat calmly, I rose to my feet. I ambled over to the door and opened it slightly. Dad was standing there with a full plate of food.
“Here, Nina.” He offered me the plate. “Have some food. I don’t want you to miss out on dinner.”
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'.