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...


4. Walking In The Woods


When Gwen finally came in, she was buzzing. Something good had happened, and I would bet a million it was to do with some boy. I just hoped it wasn't who I thought. 

"Hey Dad!" She exclaimed, running up to kiss him on the cheek. Dad laughed. 

"Woah, you've had a good day! Why the massive smile?" 

"I'm just excited about my party tonight, that's all. When are we going over to the hall to set up?" 

"In a couple of hours. Is that okay?" 

"Of course!" Gwen grinned, "I'm going to start getting ready." 

I rolled my eyes, "It's four hours until your party actually starts." 

Gwen narrowed her eyes at me. 


"Never mind." 

She shrugged and pounded up the stairs to her bedroom, clicking the lock on her door shut. I went back to my Maths homework for a while before I realised that Dad was staring at me. 

"What?" I asked. 

"Sometimes you're so much like your Mother that it scares me." He mumbled, wandering off into his study, not even waiting for my reaction. I stared after him, feeling irritated and unwanted. All I knew was that Dad had a favourite child, and it certainly wasn't me. 

I slammed my book shut and decided to get out for a little while. I needed some fresh air, anyway, before I had to be dragged along to Gwen's stupid party. I pulled on my boots, shrugged on a raincoat, and stepped out into the fading daylight. 

The sky was a beautiful purple-pink colour as the sun set. I watched it go down as I wandered along, kicking water through puddles and humming softly to myself. I liked humming. It gave me more of a reputation of being a freak, but it gave me comfort, and it reminded me of Mum. I carried on down the hill until I reached the edge of town, and took a right down a country lane. I knew this route so well, I could've probably done it with my eyes closed. I kept them open anyway. The sound of cars in the distance was replaced with the dusk chorus and cows mooing, as the town faded away and was replaced with broad, open countryside. Not many people my age took a step off the concrete in our town, or appreciated the fact that we were surrounded by so much exploration, but then that didn't surprise me at all. They were all different. I'd decided that I was normal, and they were the ones who were different. I liked it that way.

I reached a part where two country roads crossed in front of a field, and took a left, where the path thinned out even more. When I reached the dead end, I ducked under the hedge into the farmer's meadow, and tried to keep as much to the side as possible so as not to trample on any crops. The woods loomed up ahead, and a sense of complete calm washed over me. A sense of belonging. 

At the bottom of the meadow, there was the stile - the wood was rotting and old, but it was still reliable enough to carry my small weight as I heaved myself over. My feet landed in crispy leaves, and all I could see in front of me was trees and a well-trodden path. The bubbling sound of water greeted me from faraway. Peace and quiet. 

"I'm here." I whispered to no-one in particular. Or maybe it was to them. Maybe they were listening.

I began my walk towards the sound of water, listening to the birds and the sound of wind ricocheting through the trees. With every step, my boots made a satisfying crunch on the autumn leaves. Eventually, the stream came into view, its icy cold water bubbling over smooth rocks and pebbles, flowing all the way through the forest and beyond. I sat beside it for a while, picking at a leaf, my senses becoming exaggerated completely. My vision seemed to become sharper, my nose seemed to pick up the earthy, musty smells easier, my hands seemed to feel the textures of the leaves better and the sound of the stream seemed to become much more defined. And I could hear someone humming the same tune as me, from somewhere I couldn't yet reach. 

I stood up and went down to where the stream made a little pool at the bottom of a slope, and sat by that as well. Removing my shoes, I dangled my legs into the water, letting the freezing water numb my limbs through my soaking trousers. After getting used to not being able to feel my legs, I took off my raincoat and t-shirt, and gently eased myself into the natural pool. The water was so cold it made me gasp, but it was nothing that I wasn't used to. 

"I'm coming." I murmured to them. 

Without waiting for any form of reply, I inhaled deeply, closed my eyes tight, and plunged my head under the water. 


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