Lexi fell back on the roundabout and looked up at the wispy grey clouds that streaked behind the trees. The playground equipment was rust filled and the shade sail over top was ripped and banging against the poles. Positioned in a dark wet corner of the main park in Anderlee, Lexi was pretty sure no-one had ever come there.
With absolutely nothing to do except lie in silence, Lexi’s inner thoughts screamed even more intensely at her. She hated being in this shitty town. It was hard enough feeling out of control but without any distractions it amplified everything.
The shift to Anderlee was sudden. The family was in shock with how quickly Lexi had changed. Her mania had hit out of nowhere, she started to act like the devil possessed. Fixated with the internet and all that it had on offer, she was drawn into places where no-one should go, let alone a sixteen year old girl. Lexi’s parents were conservative worriers and her latest counsellor appeased their ridiculous theories. Mania, what bullshit.
As she arched her head back she screamed out. Creating a sharp piercing sound that chimed in time with the screeching roundabout. No-one around to hear her, she agonised with the thought that every possible access point to the internet was taken away from her. Even the library in the centre of town was a hopeless option, not a single computer in sight.
Being disconnected and having everything removed was meant to ‘fix’ her. They didn’t have a fucking clue. She didn’t need a detox, she was bored and needed to be fueled. Her dark and curious intelligence had always scared her parents. She wished they could support her inquisitive nature instead of trying to keep her in a bubble.
Pulling herself up Lexi spotted something behind the decrepit old toilet block. The toilets looked like they would be just the spot for the old town hypocrites to come for hole in the wall style blowjobs. What a fucking joke. The politically correct facade that so many people lived behind infuriated her. Lexi didn’t try to hide anything and yet she was persecuted for it all.
There was definitely something in the bush, she saw the flash of a reflective tag dart behind to the other side. “Who’s there?” Lexi shouted with grit and disdain. “Seriously, I can see your bag dickhead.” Lexi wouldn’t usually bother interacting with anyone, but she was bored and hated the idea of anyone watching her.
The overgrown bush rustled a few more times then stopped. Denim was as antisocial as Lexi, but there was no point in hiding, and this aggressive newcomer fascinated him. She definitely wasn’t a local. Denim pushed through the prickled bush “Ah fuck!” he swore under his breath. The thorny edges had scraped across his arm leaving a few bloodied tear lines.
They both stared at each other. Interactions at sixteen between two social misfits felt tense, cutting and cold. Lexi had never seen Denim before and his rough edges intrigued her. He would definitely have a phone, tablet or some sort of connection. She softened as she thought of the possibility of getting back online.
Denim stood almost frozen, holding the straps of his bag staring down at Lexi. Her screams and biting tone had sounded harsh and aggressive, but up close she was fine and her skin was milky and smooth. He stumbled to form words so stared instead in his obscure manner. Denim was an outsider and he had given up trying to fit in, he was happy spending time solo.
“Are you mute or what?” Lexi tried to keep her aggressive demeanour intact but the unwavering stare from Denim was throwing her off. “Hello?” Lexi tried again to get him to speak.
The abandoned toilet door slammed, they both spun to see what it was. Before Lexi had turned back, Denim had walked off in the other direction. He wasn’t ready to engage with this strange girl. There was plenty of time to see each other again and his arm had started to ache from the thorns.
“Hey, wait.” Lexi wasn’t giving up that easily. This was the only internet opportunity that had presented itself all day. “Please tell me there is something to do in this fucking town.”
Denim paused as she grabbed the back of his bag. He turned and looked at her, fuck she really was something. Her hair looked almost animated, it was like liquid silk and hung over her vintage military coat. “This is pretty much it.” Denim managed to find his voice. “Unless of course you’d rather be at the skate park with the town idiots.” Exactly where his brothers would be smoking pot and talking moronic banter.
They paused in the moment as they realised how close they were standing. Lexi was surprised with his steady voice, she was expecting a broken prepubescent croak, but it was quite the opposite. Suddenly her thoughts of trying to get online had dissipated.
Lexi knew exactly the crew who would hang out at the skate park and it was not her style at all. “Definitely not.” she said. The mood had softened between them. Recognising that they had more in common than they thought. “Fuck, your arm.” Lexi spotted the cuts and grazes on Denim’s arm.
Snapping back into reality, Denim had completely forgotten about them for a moment. He was pretty sure a few sharp thorns had wedged their way in. “I don’t suppose you’ve got tweezers or a Swiss Army knife in one of your seven hundred pockets?”
“No, but I’m an expert with splinters.” Lexi grabbed his arm and pulled him over to the bench seat. She was impressed that he noticed what she was wearing. “Put your torch on your phone, I need light.” Helping the mysterious kid and finding out what access she could get, even she was impressed with herself.
Denim opened his bag and pulled a small flashlight out. “No phone,” he mumbled. She stared at him. How on earth could he not have a phone? Oh right, she thought, neither do I.
Sitting on the bench seat together Lexi pulled out the splinters one by one. They barely spoke. Denim flinched as she pulled each one out with precision. They hurt like hell but he liked sitting next to her, he could smell a sweetness from her hair.
“There you go, done.” Lexi looked up at Denim. “Well I think that’s it?”
He stared back at Lexi in silence forgetting to speak again.
“Ah, yeah. Thanks.” Denim threw his torch back in his backpack and stood up. “I’ve gotta go.”
Enough awkward interaction for one day for Denim. He swung his bag on and headed back towards the path into town. Lexi sat back as he got up. “All good,” she said softly. She didn’t even know his name. This was the first time in months that Lexi hadn’t thought about being online.
Maybe a detox and change of pace was a good idea.
Maybe she wouldn’t lose her mind.
Maybe, just maybe.
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Two 16 yr old in a small town without a mobile phone sounds drastic but life spins them into a path devoid of the internet. Do they meet again?