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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2. Tyler

~Luke~

I left it about twenty minutes before following Gwen up the road to school - just long enough so that we couldn't be seen together, but not too long so that I'd be late. Not that it mattered anyway. 

I trudged softly up the road, head down as usual, making sure that every step didn't tread too loud. The sound of the blood pumping in my ears and the distant cry of boys yelling at one another was my only comfort in the lonely world that I felt like I didn't belong in. And I missed Mum so much. 

I thought of Gwen, and how she looked when I told it to her straight. She'd looked... hurt. Normally she would just paint on her stupid, plastic face and come back with some petty insult aimed at me, but this time seemed to have got through to something. The part of her that was a part of me and Mum as well - although I knew that part would be a difficulty to reach. 

"Oi, weirdo boy! Come here!" 

I sank my head even lower as I approached the school gates, not wanting to be noticed, trying to fade into the background as much as possible. I tried to keep a low profile to keep the bruises down to minimum. 

"I said come here!" 

My steps quickened as the black iron gates of school loomed. I could sense people beginning to buzz around me, trying to get my attention. I tried to push through them but they began to surround me so thickly that it was impossible to breathe, let alone move anywhere. I braved a look upwards, and surprise, surprise, it was Tyler and his 'crew'. 

"Your money." The monster breathed in my face, so close that I could taste his cigarette breath, "Now." 

I dug into my pocket and felt around for a few pound coins, constantly keeping eye contact with the disgusting creature in front of me. His grey eyes bulged out of their sockets, his muscles protruding through his too-small blazer. He had scars all up the side of his face and his skin looked vile, pulled tight over his receding bones. Heavy smokers were always hideous. 

"Is this enough?" My voice came out far too weak and feeble. Tyler pulled a sickening grin at my tone.

"For today, freak. For today. Now run along with your imaginary friend off to your lessons. Wouldn't want to be late." 

I ducked and averted my eyes as they parted to let me through, guffawing at me like I was something out of a circus act. I wasn't anything funny, but then I suppose I wasn't normal. I was just the 'strange boy in Year 7', that's all. 

"Aaron!" I heard Tyler cry from behind me. Aaron. Gwen's boyfriend. My gaze moved upwards to follow where Tyler was shouting to, and of course, there he was. He was tall, broad, stocky, with blond hair that was gelled up at the front and an accent that made him sound really, really thick. So naturally, Gwen was going out with him. She was by his side, pulled into him by his protective arms, her dyed blonde hair tumbling down in perfect ringlets, resting on her shoulders. 

Our eyes met. 

A flicker of recognition, pity, and pain crossed over her view. Only for a second though - with a blink it turned into shame and dislike, and she looked away. I would never admit it, but she could hurt me just as much as I could hurt her with a single stare.

"Tyler!" Aaron greeted his badly chosen friend with a fist-pump. I could somehow hear their conversation better than anyone else's in the playground.

"Hey gorgeous." Tyler's flirty comment was, of course, aimed at my sister. I felt sick in my mouth. 

"Oi, watch it Tyler, that's my girl you're talking to." Aaron threatened. Tyler appeared to ignore him as he put out a rough hand to stroke Gwen's hair. Gwen seemed to be hiding her unease as she half-smiled. I knew that Tyler intimidated her, and I knew that Tyler would want more from Gwen than she would feel comfortable giving - but then, Aaron could easily be like that too.

"Aaron's a very lucky man," Tyler continued, "With such a pretty face by his side." 

"Tyler, you.." Aaron stepped forward protectively without finishing his sentence. He looked somewhat afraid - after all, Aaron was Year 10, but Tyler was Year 11. And what Tyler wanted, Tyler generally got. 

"If you ever want more... fun...and you want to know that you'll be...protected...then you know where to find me." He mumured. I watched Gwen, waiting for her to say something in Aaron's defence, or to slap Tyler in the face or at least something... but all she did was smirk. 

"Bye, Tyler." She laughed, beginning to walk away, pulling Aaron along with her.

I began to turn and follow their lead, heaving my backpack up further onto my shoulders. I had a feeling of fear churning inside of my stomach. Fear for Gwen. Fear that she had become so stupid and so naive, that soon she would be misused and taken advantage of. The sad thing was, it really wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. 

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