Stepping out onto the hockey field, the sun warmed my arms. A smile came onto my lips as I reached my position for that match, in the centres on the wing. The referee blew her whistle to commence the game, and we ran. Rose got away early. She smacked the ball, but it was intercepted by a player on the opposing team. He flicked it with his stick, back into Rose’s foot. During the pause in play, I looked up at the skyscrapers of Parramatta. It looked like a proper city, distracting me. When we got back underway, I took an extra moment to get my head in the game. Mitchell’s voice boomed through my mind, like tinnitus. I swallowed hard, but could feel a frog in my throat. Trying to prevent a cough, I scanned the row of shops on the opposite side of the field. Eventually, I did need to pay attention to the game, although the first half passed without scoring from either team, even though there were a few near misses, both ways. The whistle blew and we left the field.
“Whoa, you really went for it there, Nina.”
Rose squirted water into her mouth. I offered a mischievous grin. My muscles were starting to cramp, although I tried not to show it, because I still needed to get through the second half. Rose led us back out onto the field and the game recommenced. I ran as fast as I could. By sheer luck, I flicked the ball, which allowed Rose to intercept it and punt it into the goal. We cheered, one-nil up with only five minutes to go. They couldn’t come back, so before long we were shaking hands and celebrating our victory. After the game, I removed my sweaty shin pads.
“You were phenomenal today,” Rose praised, as she folded her long socks together. “Don’t forget that.”
I drove from the field to work, possibly a little too fast. My shift passed without much fuss, thankfully, and five o’clock soon rolled around. Once I closed the library, I planned to take a moment to get some uni work done. While I flipped through the textbook, I pondered my own days at school, and hoped I would make a good teacher. I liked my kindergarten teacher, and used to hide in the corner sometimes at lunchtime, just so I could hear her talk to the other teachers. As I found myself lost in the memory, I was pulled back out of it just as quickly. The library doors parted with a whir.
“My goodness, it’s so dark in here.” He flicked on the lights. “How are you?”
Timmy wasn’t a bad-looking man, I pondered.
“How about you?”
I furrowed my brow, urging him to go on.
“I’ve been trying to track down Zipporah’s daughter.”
My jaw dropped, like a fish on a novelty tie.
“And I take it you’re having trouble?” I eventually enquired.
“Yes. Well, there’s a lack of records. I believe her, but there’s no evidence of her daughter.”
Timmy ran his fingernails over the back of his hair.
“I’m trying to be as polite as possible.”
The automatic doors parted. I glanced up. Zipporah walked through, carrying a green box containing a mudcake. She headed over to the table and placed it down. I followed her, while Zipporah opened the box.
“Oh, we’ve got to cut it up.”
“It’s alright, I can find a knife.”
I slipped back into the staffroom. Fetching a butter knife, I returned to the main room of the library and gave it to Zipporah. She sliced up the cake and I touched my fingertips together. It hid that my arms had started to shake, sick with anxiety. Other members of the support group filed in, and Mick made a joke.
“Is everyone coming tonight?” I asked, breaking through the laughter.
“Yes, I think so,” Timmy confirmed.
Zipporah handed around the cake to all who wanted it. Brigitta beamed between mouthfuls.
“When I was pregnant, I had all sorts of cravings.”
“I didn’t have mudcake until after I left,” Zipporah mentioned. “It probably would have helped.”
I sat down and tucked into cake.
“We’ll do news first, as usual,” Timmy said when he sat down, “but then we’ll move on to talking about Friday night. We need to make sure that everybody is comfortable with what they’re doing because we’ve had not long to organise.”
He extended the news bear.
“Who would like to go first?” Timmy asked.
“I’ll go first,” I offered.
Timmy stood and stepped across the circle to hand me the news bear, before returning to his seat.
“I have to admit, I’ve been busy, just keeping busy,” I divulged.
I passed the news bear onto Todd, who was sitting beside me.
“I’ve been applying for jobs,” he admitted.
“What sort of jobs?” Brigitta wanted to know.
“Well.” Todd rolled his lips and shrugged his shoulders. “I supposedly have a media degree. Back in the day I learned how to push radio buttons, so I have been applying to the community radio stations.”
“Well, we wish you all the best,” Timmy wished on behalf of the group.
Todd smiled in thanks and passed the news bear on to Mick.
“Thanks, mate,” he murmured, then leaned back in his seat and sighed. “Tomorrow I’m going to Dessie’s school assembly item. They’re doing a musical.”
“Which songs are they singing?” Lawrence wanted to know.
“The teacher wrote it,” Mick explained in his mournful New Zealand accent. “It’s about the garden and all the bugs and beetles and flowers and everything. Dessie’s a ladybug. She’s so excited. She runs around the house singing the song.”
A smile finally crept onto his lips. I leaned over and patted Mick on the knee.
“She’s such a beautiful girl.”
His voice was thin. Mick folded his tattooed arms.
“I love her so much.” He shook his head. “I just can’t protect her enough.”
Mick took a moment to pull himself together, then handed over to Noel.
“Nothing for me this week.”
Noel passed the news bear on. Clementine, however, did not accept it from him. I could feel my heart beating faster within my chest, nervous for them both.
“Do you need to take a moment?” Clementine suggested, but Noel shook his head.
“I’m fine,” he assured.
Clementine held the bear against Noel’s palm. She took an audible deep breath, as if she were modelling calmness. Brigitta received the news bear.
“I’ve been thinking of going overseas. It was something which I wanted to do when I finished school, but obviously that didn’t happen. Maybe the time is right, now, maybe I could stretch my legs a bit, see new horizons.”
“Alright.” The news bear came back to Timmy, and he placed it down on the floor nestled against the leg of his chair. “I sent around the Enneagram test for something to have a chat about. Did people give that a go?”
A smattering of us rose our hands, including me.
“I’ll start, I’m a Type Eight, which is the challenger.”
“Ooh, I can see that about you,” Brigitta remarked. “You know, that means that your ideal relationship is with a Type Two.”
“So, do we have any Type Twos here?” I found myself blurting out.
There was an awkward period of silence.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I am,” Noel admitted.
Clementine smiled and sat back in her chair, folding her arms in front of her chest.
“Oh, I can see that about you.”
“Well, I’m a Type Eight too, for what it’s worth,” Lawrence mentioned. “I wouldn’t have a clue what my wife is."
“It told me that I was an Eight too, apparently,” Debbie admitted. “I could just imagine Jason going ‘just say yes to everything’.”
“I did the test, I’m a Type Three,” I divulged.
“That’s the achiever,” Timmy supplied.
I’m sure he was grateful for the deflection as well.
“I guess I was a bit surprised by that, I would have thought that would be Mitchell.”
“I don’t think it’ll surprise any of you that I turned out to be an enthusiast,” Brigitta noted with a laugh. “I’ve known that for a while now that I’m a Seven, I first did this ages ago.”
“Yeah, enthusiasm’s definitely a word I would associate with you,” Zipporah agreed. “I’m a Type One, a perfectionist.”
“Yeah, so am I,” Todd chimed in. “Oldest child, oldest brother.”
He crossed his arms and legs, then uncrossed them again.
“Ditto, ditto, ditto,” Mick echoed, “although I was kind of surprised by that. I would have thought of myself as much more easy-going than that.”
I sensed that both men were taken aback by the perception they might have been uptight.
“I was so young when Lucy disappeared. It’s really difficult to understand who I am apart from that. Maybe who I was raised to be was also what led to Lucy going missing.”
“You know, I’m a lot older than you,” Dean pointed out, even though it went without saying.
“May I ask, Dean,” Timmy interjected, “did you do the test? Do you know what type you are?”
“I’m Type One as well, apparently. I can relate to what these young gentlemen are saying. For me, though, I think for my generation of men, of husbands and fathers, you were supposed to be the stern hand. I was never any good at that, really.”
“I got Type Six,” Clementine conveyed, with her arms folded in front of my chest. “You know, I can’t help but think that what I’ve been through led to that. I do care about safety and security because I’ve been pretty bruised, especially with Steve’s disappearance.”
“Yeah, that’s a really interesting point,” Timmy affirmed. “Does anyone else agree?”
“Yeah, I do,” Aaron answered. “I also got Type Six. I’m not super into all this stuff, but what you said, Clem, that rings true for me.”
“Yeah, I got Six too,” Rod chimed in. “I see what Clementine’s saying, and I agree with Aaron, this isn’t my forte, but of course you want to feel safe, when you’ve lost a lot, I don’t know.”
“Who else is a Six?” Timmy asked.
Ella raised her hand.
“I was a little surprised, not that I’m an expert. Before I did the test I read all the types, and I thought that I’d turn out to be a Type One or a Three.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that there’s a part of being a Type Six, being a loyalist, which is like the Type One, or probably more like a Type Three,” Brigitta outlined. “Three, Six and Nine are the types which go together, so a Six is torn between wanting to achieve and also wanting to keep the peace. That’s just what I think, anyway, and I think it’s true in this group.”
“Well, I got Type Nine,” Jamie mentioned. “I like the idea of being a peacemaker, but sometimes it really frustrates me.”
He breathed out and I could see his eyes glazing with the feeling.
“I’m furious, but I often feel like I can’t express it, I’m not able to.”
“You must have an Eight wing, then,” Brigitta remarked.
“I think that I might be out on my lonesome here,” Bandile admitted. “I’m a Type Four.”
“That does not surprise me about you Bandile, whatsoever.”
“Lorelai, did you manage to do the test?” Timmy asked gently.
“Yes,” she confirmed. “I got Type Nine, like Jamie did.”
“You two are youngest children, whereas eldest kids are more likely to be Threes or Sixes.”
“Yeah, that rings true for me,” Todd admitted.
“It’s true for me too, I suppose,” I confessed, “even though I’m the youngest. I feel like I’ve been thrust into this oldest child position for the first time in my life. You know, with Mitchell being such a big influence, and his best friend Geoff, I’ve been the little sister of two oldest brothers, and now there’s just me and Geoff trying to figure things out together.”
“What does everyone have planned for the week?” Timmy enquired.
“We’ve just got to talk quickly about Friday night, I presume,” Mick reminded.
“Yeah, sure, of course.”
“We’ve got to make sure that people are able to pay for tickets,” Debbie pointed out.
“I think that we try to keep things as simple as possible,” Mick suggested. “If Dean could bring the card reader, that would be great.”
The meeting came to an end. Some headed off straight away, whereas others lingered to pack up. A third of the mudcake remained, so we separated parts to take some home each. I picked up a coffee mug, the members of the support group knowing what to do. Somewhat absentmindedly, I walked across the library, noticing my reflection in the glass doors. I glanced into the kitchen, where Noel washed the dishes with something of a twisted look on his face. The everyday patrons at the library would be none the wiser, of what took place here. I even worked there, and still didn’t truly know.
“Let me take care of that.”
Noel accepted the mug from my hands.
We quickly finished cleaning up from the meeting. Those of us remaining departed the library, Timmy and I ensuring we switched off the lights and locked up.
“So, at the end of the day, we have every type but a Five,” Brigitta observed.
“Yeah, pretty much,” I agreed with a nod.
We ambled back to our cars, unlocking them and slipping inside the cabins, fastening our seatbelts. When I returned home, I tried to creep in quietly, for I presumed Mum and Dad would already be asleep. I thought of doing some more study, because there was plenty of uni work to do. My tiredness got the better of me, so instead I slipped into bed and drifted off to sleep.
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'.