Gareth sat in the tree in the dark, straining his eyes and ears for any sign of the security guards the developer was supposed to have hired, or the police. He knew there were other protesters in the trees around him although he couldn’t see them. His back was aching and he wanted a cigarette - he shifted to get more comfortable, with no success.
A slight noise to his left caught his attention: someone was moving quietly but deliberately through the bush beneath the trees. He couldn’t really make out who or what it was – just a dark shape flitting from shadow to shadow in the dappled moonlight. He wondered who it was: security guards or police would come in a pack, plenty of noise and lights as they crashed through the undergrowth. This was a solitary figure, dressed in dark clothing and hard to make out. They seemed to know where they were going though and Gareth suddenly thought they were heading directly for his tree. He sat still watching as the shadowy figure swiftly and silently moved towards him. It stopped beneath his tree and looked directly up at him; he caught a flash of blond hair beneath the dark hoodie.
“ Hannah? What are you doing here?”
“Why does your dad want to kill the wombats?” Hannah’s head turned as she heard the voice behind her. She looked at the girl who had spoken. She was dressed in school uniform, but her jumper was hand-knitted. Her hair was long and a bit unruly, falling in waves of reddish brown half way down her back. An elastic band and a bit of blue ribbon were used in an attempt to contain it but heavy tendrils curled forward around her face. It was Rosie.
“What wombats?” Hannah asked, tossing her head so her neat ponytail flipped off her shoulder. Like most of the girls in the group she wore her school dress as short as she could and ankle socks rolled over to the top of her t-bar sandals. Sitting in their usual spot under the old peppercorn tree the group had a similarity that made Rosie stand out. Rosie was not part of this group: she had come to the school at the beginning of year nine and while she had some friends in the different groups she did not hang around with any particular one.
“The black-nosed Wombats that live in Patterson’s Forest; where he wants to build that resort place. He should leave them in peace and build somewhere else.”
“What are you on about – go away you stupid tree-hugger!” Amanda, tall and blonde with an orange colour from fake tan like several of the other girls, glared at Rosie.
“I wasn’t talking to you – anyway you’re happy enough to sit in the shade of the trees when it’s hot, but you don’t care about them, really.” Rosie turned and walked off.
Period six was History: Hannah slid into the seat beside Rosie.
“Thought you’d be sitting with your pretty friends.”
“Oohh – mieouww”
“Shut up – why do you hang around with those fake tan types?”
“You know you’re just like them…”
“I am not!”
Yes you are – ‘cos they ask me why I hang around with you – you and them both don’t get it – I sit with who I want to sit with, when I want to.”
“So you don’t care about anybody?”
“Where do you get that from? You are just like them! Maybe I’ll go sit on my own – just because I like you doesn’t mean I agree with everything you do – or say! Honestly, none of you can cope unless everyone lines up on your side.”
“Sorrrryyy – I’ve just had enough of the blue-eyed bottle-blondes today… Oooopps”
“Thank you – I take you don’t mean this blue-eyed natural blonde?”
“Oh Hannah – You know you’re my best friend here.”
“And you’re mine – but not my only one – OK?”
“OK - you are a natural blonde then?” Rosie lifted up her friend’s ponytail and pretended to inspect it. Hannah jerked her head away with a laugh.
“Have you done the notes for the essay?”
“Ahh – no, I’ve been a bit busy…”
“Well I have – do you want to share?”
“Oh, yes please. How come you’re so nice to everyone?”
“Oh I’m not – I’m really mean to my little brother.” Hannah giggled. “But that’s normal.”
Rosie looked at Hannah. She looked like the rest of the cool kids – blonde hair, neat ponytail, long legs, athletic figure, skirt just short enough and blue eyes. But it was the eyes: they looked inside you. They were a deep blue, and penetrating, there was a soul behind them that connected with yours. There was more to Hannah than you saw at first. Rosie smiled though inside a little shiver ran down her back; she didn’t think she’d want to get on the wrong side of her friend.
“Let’s get on with the essay then.”