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By Byron Hall

I

It was hard trying to fit in, in a new town; Yulara had been home for as long as he’d known. Making friends wasn’t really on the top of Lakota’s to-do list. He would much prefer watching them from a distance, like an alien creature at a zoo. That way he never felt truly uncomfortable, something having a name and a brain which he couldn’t figure out really perplexed him. It was a kind of love/hate relationship when it came to people. Other than his immediate family (who he would do anything for), he absolutely hated the fact that any person could change and manipulate another with little effort. This was vastly ironic also, as this was how Lakota lived. Unless he could control a situation, he would refuse to believe that it even existed. Anyway, back to the story at hand. Moving to a new place and starting over really wasn’t as easy as it sounds — at least at his old school he had been pretty much invisible, but now he was the ‘new kid’. Everyone would want to have their bit. Essentially a role reversal, he was the alienated animal and his peers were the zoo visitors. He tried to do what he did best, live in the shadows and avoid contact with people. In his second week of school he was pretty much done, leaving school and having more partial absences than you’d expect from someone trying to keep off the radar. He assured his parents that he was fine with the move but deep down he only did so because he knew his dad needed the job. Lakota’s family weren’t the most well off — his mum never really conformed to real world expectations and his dad, well, his dad was a paramedic. After growing up in a broken home he knew the importance of having two parental figures and being in a nurturing environment.

One Monday afternoon, after once again partially attending school Lakota was on his cycle home and noticed he had a flattening tyre, his first thought was that it must’ve been deliberate. That kind of thing never happened to him. Off he went to the service station to pump up his tyre. There stood the most interesting specimen he had ever seen, long back hair, bob fringe with a Gerard Way coloured red streak, circa ‘Danger Days’; about 5’8 in height and pale in complexion. Sincerely interesting to look at, she had just finished filling up her car. Conveniently enough, Lakota had finished with his bike tyres as well. He then made his way into the service station shop, to get a better look at the enigmatic girl (she had to be in her early twenties), but kept his distance so that he wouldn’t have to make eye contact. It was really odd for him to be this interested in someone, but he stood back and let the girl make her purchase. She looked rushed or stressed, both feelings have expressions of similar intensities. After what could’ve been a matter of seconds she was gone, the clerk being the only person in view. Lakota could see something gleaming on the ground near the counter, on closer inspection he saw what must’ve been the girl’s license. She now had a name: Lily. She looked more like a Veronica but now he could put a name to her face. This didn’t make it too much easier to talk to so he picked up the license and scurried out the door and mounted his bike. Trying the hardest he had tried since giving up fitting in Lakota peddled trying to keep up with Lily’s car, catching a glimpse of the number plate. Lucky for him all the hours not spent in school he had memories many of Tennant Creek’s short cuts. There were seldom roads in that part of town but he knew them like the back of his hand, he’d had a knack for that.. Not having much human contact gives you a lot of spare time for seemingly pointless skills.

Almost out of breath Lakota greets Lily’s car afront an old weatherboard house, the likes in which only squatters would reside. Still very cautious he dumps his bike behind a hedge of a neighbouring property, keeping a close eye on her doings. Part of Lakota feels as though she wants him to follow her but he is very hesitant on letting her know that he is around, not knowing if Lily is by herself or with company Lakota hides behind the same hedge as his bike. She starts back on his journey and quickly pulls back onto the middle of the road. A very eerie feeling came over Lakota, he felt compelled to continue to follow her and not just hand her license into the local police station. It made him feel strange but he steadily followed the car until it pulled into a driveway not far from his own house. He waited eagerly for the drivers silhouette to exit the vehicle. It would’ve only taken a matter of seconds for Lily to exit the car and enter the front door of the two-storey structure. He had heard his mother refer to buildings like this as “Mcmansions”, and quickly left the license on the second step of the doorstep. At the same time the door knob began to turn and he bolted back to his cover; the big cactus array in the front yard hoping that whoever was behind the door wouldn’t see him. Lakota successfully made it back to his bike and rides off back to his house. He stashes his bike by the side gate and walks in the back door, chatter happens amongst his mother and he about the day; like usual then he proceeds to go up stairs to bed.

The next day began like any other. It was a Tuesday; why should it be any different? Lakota managed to attend a full day of school after falling asleep in two of his classes and rides by the same place that Lily had slowed down the previous day. Intrigue was killing him, he just needed to understand the patterns and why for two days in a row she had to slow down along the same section of road. And, most of all, why a girl like her would be focused on such an obscurely boring house. He dropped much further behind and followed the pattern and left without getting out of her car. Once Lakota rode back home he went inside and helped his mother with dinner. His father watching the 6:30 news. The usual family chit chat happened and nothing eventful was to happen, just like every other Tuesday, so Lakota followed his routine and went to bed but he couldn’t sleep. This Lily girl (a complete stranger) was playing on his mind. Perplexed by her he tossed and turned until eventually, he fell asleep.

It was now the third day that Lily was playing on his mind. It was as if she was taunting him without even knowing about it; it was simply unfair. Lakota decided early that morning that he’d ditch school, but he couldn’t let his parents know. His dad’s car was parked in the driveway so he knew the chances of him being awake were slim. From the kitchen Lakota could see the figure of his mother just outside of the back door. Potting or tending to her plants, perhaps even doing yoga. He swiftly wrote a note and took off, the note explained why he was leaving so early to get to the school which he loved so much.

He arrived at Lily’s residence at around 6:30 and planned on staying there until he saw movement. Perched behind a hedge this time, he had also hidden his bike and waited and waited. About an hour had passed and the only movement was from the neighbours leaving to go to work. Another hour passed when a silver hatchback mounted the curb and parked almost across the driveway. A lady possibly in her mid forties got out and went inside. As promptly as she had arrived it appeared that the house she went into had woken up, music began playing and the shades were no longer drawn. The most interesting part about of of this is when the music stopped out of nowhere and the front door flew open, out came Lily. Eyes low she made her way out of the house rather rushed and got into her car and sped off. Lakota jumped back onto his bike and followed, she was heading to the direction of town wearing a uniform of sorts. With a quick google search he was able to deduct that she was heading to one of three places. She seemed too perfect to work at the local corner store so that was out of the question, Lakota proceeded to the only cafe in the town. Although only being a local for a few weeks he had readily studied all of the shortcuts and most businesses. Once again he stood back and watched from a distance. She was nowhere to be seen. It was unlike him but it was almost lunch time and he was getting hungry so he left to get lunch. After finishing lunch he makes his way back through town down past the library, he saw a little car (much like the one from the servo) pull into a park and to his disbelief out hopped Lily. This was it, he was going to do it. He was going to talk to her, this was really out of character for him. As soon as he started to make his way over she jumped back into the car and sped off. Could she of seen him coming, it was all very very odd but it had happened and there was nothing he could do about it.

On his ride home he tried for a last ditch effort. Rationalising that the previous two days she had slowed down out the front of the old house she must do it again. He rode there as quick as he could and set the scene for this seemingly accidental meeting. He cleverly hid his bike behind the fence of a neighbouring house and stood just to the side of the road, he figured he had about 10 minutes to kill seeing as she’d driven past the house just after 3:30pm the previous day he put in his earphones and listened to music, still standing to the side of the road.

Lakota looked down at his watch and thinks to himself she should be here very soon, but before he can check again, he heard a screech and was knocked down to the hard pavement.