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I pulled up the car in front of the house in Newington, then checked the street directory. There was a pale pink balloon tied onto the letterbox, which convinced me that I’d located the correct address. I retrieved my handbag and Lorelai’s birthday present off the passenger seat. Turning off the car and unfastening my seatbelt, I checked over my shoulder, then stepped out of the car. As I strolled around to the grassy kerb, I locked the car. I halted on the footpath and glanced around, searching for somebody else, so that I didn’t have to walk in alone. It made me a little self-absorbed, I knew. Finally, my saviour came in the form of Clementine. I hastily got out of the car, locking it behind me, then joined her on the path as we entered the property.

“These gardens are beautiful.”

“Yes, they are.”

We arrived at the front door of the house, a screen door closed, but with an open wooden door behind it.

“Come on in,” Marcus urged, upon noticing our presence. “Thank you for coming.”


“What would you like to drink?”

“Oh, I’m happy with anything, whatever’s on offer.”

“You’re what, eighteen, nineteen years old?”

I grinned.

“I’m eighteen.”

“There you go, I was right the first time.”

We walked through to the kitchen, a relatively small area, with varnished wooden doors on the cupboards.

“If you’d rather a soft drink, we’ve got lemonade, Coke--.”

“Lemonade would be lovely, thank you.”

I handed over the gift.

“Oh, thank you, this is lovely,” Lorelai gushed, with a genuine smile. “Thank you so much for coming, Nina. I do truly appreciate it.”

She looked so beautiful. I thought a bit sexist for thinking it. Marcus produced a glass for me.


I took a sip from the cool drink.

“We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. Lorelai brought this shirt for me.”

“Right, it’s nice,” I replied.

“I like this one.”

We finally moved out to the backyard, as the party started to fill up, other guests taking up Lorelai and Marcus’ attention. I sipped at my glass of lemonade. Looking around, I tried to identify the characters in Lorelai’s life I’d already been introduced to. There was a good compliment from the support group – Noel arrived with his two daughters, whom I’d never met before. They seemed well-dressed and normal. I took a moment to recall their names. Finally, that dawned on me – Primrose and Josephine. Now I just needed to remember which one was which. Hopefully I wouldn’t have to. Noel or someone else would refer to one or the other. Then, I would just have to find an identifying feature. For the meantime, I turned my attention to the backyard cricket game which had commenced. A tall woman bowled with a high, straight arm. I didn’t know her name, but gathered that she was most likely one of Lorelai’s friends, from her regular life. Did she know her before Lily’s disappearance? I wanted to ask, to satisfy my own curiosity, but it would have been inappropriate. Those of us from the support group, slipped into conversation about what we had in common.

“The day after Mitchell’s disappearance, Geoff’s uncle took the dive gear out. It was always a shot in the dark because Mitchell didn’t go missing in the water, so finding anything would have been unlikely."

I found myself studying Lorelai’s expression. Her brow didn’t furrow, but her lips puckered. The back door opened, Debbie striding out. I was pleased to see her again, even though it had only been a couple of days since the last support group meeting.

“Sorry, I’m late.” Debbie greeted Lorelai with a kiss on the cheek. “Happy birthday.”

She handed over a gift in a box, with a ribbon tied on the lid in a bow.

“Thank you, thank you for coming.”

Lorelai’s older sister was identifiable, due to her ready-to-burst pregnant stomach. Hopefully she’d make it through the birthday party without popping. Susanna seemed to be in a little bit of discomfort. Whilst she was a doctor, I suspect that it wouldn’t help too much if she ended up being the one needing medical attention.

“What do you think’s going to happen with the election?”

I took a sip from my drink. Everyone had their own opinion to share. Getting rid of Morrison seemed to be a universal wish. The lies seemed to get to them, but all politicians lie. Intense discussion about submarine contracts went straight over my head, although it struck me as the sort of thing which Mitchell would have been knowledgeable about. I started scrolling through Instagram, although my feed wouldn’t load. Perhaps it was serving as a reminder that I was in public, and needed to tune back into the conversation.

“Geoff has relatives over in France, my family friend. I haven’t been, though. He might have gone, when he was younger. I’m not sure.”

I glanced around at the blank faces, pondering how much I would like to kiss him. This wasn’t the time or place for that. During the party, I wandered through the door, looking for the bathroom, needing to go to the toilet. I hadn’t been able to find Lorelai or Marcus to ask where it was. Therefore, I wandered around the house, feeling a little sheepish. My eyes scanned across the printed photos, feeling like I was seeing something I shouldn’t. Lorelai seemed to have possessed the same face forever, at least she did in the pictures from her teenage years. Finally, I noticed a wedding picture. Lorelai was wearing a woollen cardigan over her gown. It must have been a winter wedding, and it looked absolutely beautiful. I finally found the bathroom and relieved myself. By the time that I was ready to leave, I glanced around for Lorelai. Walking through the house, I could faintly hear water running. I followed the noise back into the bathroom, where I lingered outside the closed door.

“Come in,” a voice called, clearly Lorelai’s, but likely not expecting me.

“Oh, it’s fine,” I assured.

“Nina, it’s fine, you’re not going to be able to see anything.”

Tentatively, I opened the bathroom door and slipped through the crack, before shutting it again behind me with a soft click.


Lorelai’s body was covered with bubbles.

“I just needed a moment in which everything is still.”

“I’m proud of you.”


Lorelai took a breath.

“Tell me something,” she invited. “You can tell me anything. Everyone needs someone they can talk to.”

Lorelai flashed me a genuine look.

“You know, my mum’s best friend, Natalie--.”

“Is she your friend Geoff’s mother?”

“Yes, she is,” I confirmed. “She had cancer, she had ovarian cancer.”

“Oh, that’s awful.”

Lorelai turned her face away from mine. I wondered whether I’d overdone it. Why had that been my fascinating fact to share? I wasn’t sure. Maybe I just needed to mention it to someone.

“Would you like me to tell you about my uni or something?” I offered.

Lorelai nodded, causing a ripple in the bath.

“Well, I’m studying arts and education. I still remember the day I got in.” With a grin, I leaned back.

“Did you go to uni?”

“Yes, I did. That feels like a long time ago now.”

I noticed Lorelai’s rings, on the vanity. Her engagement ring was simple yet classic, a solitaire with a white gold band.

“Well, I’m starting to turn into a prune.” Lorelai shifted within the water and I averted my eyes slightly so that I wouldn’t see any glimpses of nudity. “Do you mind if you give me a moment?”

“Yeah, of course.”

I slipped out of the bathroom, closing the door again behind me. Walking down the hallway, I felt like I’d seen Lorelai in a new light. I re-joined the others, while she had the time to get dressed and return, to bid her party guests farewell.

“Thank you for coming. We’ll have to do this again some time.”

I smiled.

“Of course.”

I headed out to the car and drove away, to home.


Abbey Sim is a candidate for Honours in Communications at the University of Technology Sydney. She lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Having started Huldah Media in 2021, 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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