Down By The Stile, Through The Stream...

Gwen is the popular girl in her year. The stunning one. The intelligent one. The one everyone wants to be. The one who gets invited to all the parties. The one who is down to Earth, modern, and real.

Luke is her little brother. Described as strange, crazy and odd, he lives his life in the shadows, talking to no-one, keeping his head down, avoiding any association with Gwen. Because he knows something that no-one else knows.

Down by the stile, through the stream...

No-one would ever know.
No-one should ever know.
Everyone thinks he is crazy. His own sister thinks that he's crazy.

Until she finds herself immersed in the world that he lives in...

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3. In The Alleyway

~Gwen~

It was the end of the day and  I was absolutely laden down with bags and bags of presents from people I hardly talked to, cards from people I was sure I'd never even met before, and tons and tons of balloons. There was no way anyone could be mistaken for the fact that it was my birthday. 

I was just walking down the corridor at school, surrounded by my girls - Beth, Lauryn, Jazzy and Kayleigh - when I heard a small voice calling out my name. 

"Hey, Gwen." 

I followed the sound that I somewhat recognised and saw a girl I'd once known leaning against the wall, clutching an envelope to her chest and staring innocently up at me. Her naturally wavy mousey hair framed a pretty face with big brown eyes that were completely free from makeup. I was about to say something before she began to speak again. 

"You probably don't remember me... we went to primary school together." 

That alone was enough to trigger my memory - thank God, or I would have felt awful. 

"Dana... hey." I smiled at her, flashbacks of us playing together when we were younger filling my mind, giving me a happy feeling that I wasn't familiar with. I then began to wonder why I hadn't seen her in so long. "Of course I remember you." 

A flutter of happiness seemed to pulse through her as she carefully handed me the envelope. 

"Well, er, this is for you. I remembered it was your birthday, and... yeah... happy birthday." 

It felt strange, the way Dana was looking at me. Almost like I was something to be scared of, and yet a God to worship at the same time. Like I was older than her when we were really the same age. It made me feel uncomfortable. 

"Aw, thanks. I'll...um... see you soon, yeah?" 

She gave me some kind of knowing smile, almost as if she was saying 'that's never going to happen'. 

"Yeah." 

I began to walk off, being trailed by Beth and the other girls. They started hissing in my ear as soon as we were a metre away from Dana.

"What's up with her?!" Beth muttered. I frowned. 

"Nothing... she's an old friend..." 

"Wow, you picked your friends badly! Her face is so messed up! I mean who even goes natural now?" Said Kayleigh, "This isn't the 90s!" 

"Hey, that's unfair, she's just..."

"A loser with no friends? You've got that right!" Jazzy interrupted, laughing away. I turned around to face them all, angrily. 

"What gives you the right to be so bitchy about her?" I demanded. Their faces immediately went from laughing to serious. They started exchanging glances awkwardly. 

"But Gwen, you... you do it all the time... like, just the other day you were saying how Lucy Morris' face is so spotty it's like a pizza...and how Brad Curter will never get a girlfriend because he's so dog ugly...and how Stacey Richards is always crying because she's an emo freak..." Lauryn murmured.

I stopped for a second.. oh god. I had been saying that. And a whole lot of other things as well. I was always talking about everyone. Picking up on flaws about everyone. Bitching about everyone. I was horrible. I was plastic, I was fake. I was disgusting. 

"I...I..." I tried to defend myself but I knew that it was useless, "I have to go..." 

I didn't give them a second to stop me. I ran off down the corridor, out the school doors, into the playground and away from them. I had to rearrange my thoughts, sort my attitude out. I had to wrap my head around everything before my party that night. I was so busy concentrating that I didn't notice some guys smoking in the alleyway through to my road, and so when I was grabbed it took me completely by surprise. 

"Ah!" I let out a cry as I was pulled by the waist into someone. I looked up fearfully, and it was him. For God's sake, Gwen, of course it was him. 

"Shh. Don't worry gorgeous, we won't hurt you." Tyler murmured, blowing out smoke into my face. I tried to relax. Tried to let him know that I wasn't scared. I eyed up the two burly guys with him, and knew there was no way I could escape. I swallowed hard. 

"Oh... hi Tyler... didn't see you there..." My voice wavered as I spoke. He chuckled, pulling me in closer. My heart was thumping. 

"That boyfriend of yours... Aaron...we're having a few problems with him." Tyler growled softly in  my ear, "He's not being very... helpful, you could say... with our requests." 

I gulped. 

"Oh really? Um, why's that?" 

Tyler pulled me in closer still. 

"I want something of his, something that he claims to love dearly, and he won't give it to us. And we would really like this... something." 

"Oh, er..." My blood was rushing through my ears. Tyler scared the living daylights out of me. Maybe I'd been too suggestive, too arrogant, too cocky, but whatever it was I'd given him the wrong impression. And I couldn't take it back now.

"So we've decided that we're just going to ask this something if she would rather be with Aaron... or me." 

I clicked. 

"Um, Tyler, I'm flattered, but..."

"Come on, Gwen. You know and I know that you don't really like Aaron, you're just dating him because he's the most popular guy that will have you. That's right, isn't it?" He purred. 

"I..." 

"Isn't it?" His tone became more aggressive. 

"...Yes." I whispered, looking down shamefully. 

"Well then." Tyler continued, "You also know that he's not strong... he wouldn't protect you... he couldn't defeat anyone trying to hurt you... he doesn't give you any fun. And I would. With me, you'd be the most popular girl this school has ever seen." 

Tyler was right. Aaron was a pretty boy, all talk and no do, whereas Tyler was strong, he was tough, he would indeed protect me. And I would be the most popular girl for dating a Year 11. But I could also be labelled a slut for dumping Aaron for Tyler. And Tyler did scare me.

"Why me?" I asked, "I'm Year 9, you're Year 11. What's so special about me?" 

"Because Gwen, every time I look at you, I can't take my eyes away. You're my perfect girl. No-one in my year, or even Year 10 is like you. You're one of a kind. If I had you by my side I would be very, very lucky." 

My heart leapt a little. I don't know why, but I'd never seen the sweet side of Tyler before, and what he'd just said made me feel not scared, but comforted. And I supposed it would be kind of cool to date someone from Year 11, especially if he would be sweet to me. 

"Let me think about it." I smiled, suddenly flirty. I wasn't scared anymore. Tyler loosened his grip. 

"I'll be at your party tonight. Tell me your decision then, gorgeous." He planted a kiss on my cheek and let go of my waist, stroking my hand as I began to walk down the alleyway. 

Truth be told, I felt good. I felt powerful. The events with Dana and the other girls buzzed out of my head for a second, because I knew that the bad boy in Year 11 wanted me. And the decision of his request was completely in my hands. It felt awesome.

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