Okay, this is my first time ever attempting an original story, I'd really appreciate any feedback about my style, the content, whatever, constructive criticism especially. I'm also wondering what people think about the POV, there are a couple groups of characters, the story threads will get together eventually but for now their separated by symbols. Is that confusing? Should I do separate chapters for each? The beginning might be slow but I need to introduce the characters so bear with me.

A young girl walked along the coast near her house. Her long black hair was braided into pigtails which hung on either side of her perfectly round face, still holding onto a youthful chubbiness, although it was beginning to thin and show promise of what the child would look like as an adult. Her wide brown eyes were troubled as she paced the beach and her forehead showed creases as though the child were thinking of things that should not be troubling such a seemingly small and innocent being. In her jeans with flowers embroidered on the pockets, pink t-shirt, and backpack she could be any school child in America. She continued walking along the beach, she had made this walk so many times in her life she did not have to concentrate on her feet but picked them up over the logs and skirted around the tide pools instinctively, leaving her mind free to wander. The beach was her kingdom and she knew every dip of it for a good mile on either side. The girl's house where she lived with her grandma was only 100 feet from the water at high tide, down the road a ways from the other houses all by itself on the edge of the town. She had spent countless hours playing here with her friends making castles in the sand, racing in the water, and playing games of Fish and Marco Polo. Here on this beach she had dug up clams and caught crabs with her grandmother for dinner and watched the sun rise and set and rise again. As she got older and was faced with more difficult problems the beach was where she came whenever she needed peace, a place to think, the sea had always calmed her and she had yet to face a problem that couldn't be solved by a long walk along the coast. The endless stretch of sea and sky seemed to make her problems shrink to a manageable size. Her brow furrowed more as she realized that she might have finally encountered a problem even the ocean couldn't make look small.

And so now she walked along the beach for what could be the last time, thinking back to the conversation she'd had with her grandmother the night before. The words wouldn't stop circling in her head, giving her a headache. Her grandmother had sat down with her after dinner as they did every night to tell stories, tales of their people, tales of magic and history, tall tales of talking animals and princesses with fairy godmothers, and lessons about the world and their purpose in it. Last night, however, had been different. Grandmother had not begun talking about history or telling stories about other people, she had told the girl her own history, which the girl well knew seeing as she had lived it. Grandmother told how she had taken her in as a baby, taught her the ways of the world tried to prepare her as best she could and teach her everything she would need to know. The young child did not understand why her grandmother was telling her all this, she knew that grandmother had raised her and taught her well but did not interrupt because it would be rude ad simply waited for her grandmother to make her point. Grandmother talked for a long time, reminding her of the most important lessons she had learned, listen to what the world is telling you, look for the signs that will tell you a friends from a foe, trust your third eye, always continue to learn and seek, trust the essence, all is one. Then her grandmother told her the news that had the child pacing on the beach. She had turned to the girl with sad eyes and said to her "Lihieli, I had hoped to never ask this of you, but I no longer have any choice. I wish I could protect you forever but I cannot, now I have done the best I can to prepare you and now its up to you, you must go to the center of the center. People are losing their faith, the path is dying and every year less and less people adhere to the ways, I had hoped to see the pattern reverse naturally but if we don't intervene now it will be too late. Go there and bring life back to our ways."

Lihieli was fearful. Surely there had been a mistake; she was only a child, not yet a woman, not even nearly done with her studies, why would she go to the center of the center? But her grandmother was adamant that it must be her, there was no one else. No adult could do what she was charged with doing, only a child, someone with an open mind and an open heart could succeed in this task. She had not completed her studies but she knew enough, the world would teach her the rest. Her grandmother tucked her into bed the way she always had saying she had a big day in front of her and needed her rest. They both steadfastly pretended that there was nothing different about this night, not acknowledging that this might be the last time her grandmother tucked her in to this bed, pretending that tomorrow she would wake up and go to school complaining with her friends about how early they had to get up and everything would be normal. Her grandmother gave her a kiss on the forehead as always and they mumbled their prayers together like any other night but when her grandmother turned out the light both of them lay in silence with their eyes open, each lost in their own thoughts. Sleep did not come quickly to the little house by the beach that night.

And so when grandmother woke up the ext day she found Lihieli's bed already empty and knew that her granddaughter was already down on the beach, probably walking the shore muddling through her thoughts and feelings, trying to make sense of the conversation from the night before. She knew her granddaughter well. She sighed in brief regret and then stood to get ready to face the day, there was no sense dwelling on what she wished could have happened; she had done what she needed to do and now must face the consequences. She dressed hurriedly and grabbed her walking cane starting down the path to the cliffs over the beach

Lihieli continued to walk along the shore with her grandmothers words circling in her brain, She knew, in theory how to get to the center of the center, but it was a place of myths, a place she had only heard about in her grandmother's after-diner stories. The child knew that people could walk between worlds, of course, everyone knew of the shamans who crossed the boundaries. But she was just a child, only 12 years old, what made her grandma so certain that she could do it? But then she told herself firmly to have no doubts, she could do it because her grandmother told her she could, because she had no choice but to succeed, the alternative was not an option. She looked out at the sea again, constantly changing yet so familiar, she felt at home at the sea, looking out at the waves now she thought to herself as she had so many times before that water was most certainly her element, for all that her grandma had told the child all is one and anything could be used to channel her powers she still had an easier time with her lessons using water. Her feet stopped their journey along the coast and she turned to face the waves, they were timeless, both new and old, constant and changing, a place of crossroads, a good place to start a journey. She thought briefly about her friends at the school, what would they think when she didn't come to class? She thought about the life she was leaving behind, her house on the beach where she had grown up, her grandmother who she loved so much who she would miss more than anyone else. Then she closed her eyes to help center herself, felt the earth around her, all the universe working as one and began walking towards the water with a few steps she was on the firm sand on the edge of the waves and with two more strides she was crossing over the tide line, crossing the boundary between land and see, and from this world into the next.

Up on the cliffs a sea bird cocked his head at the strange sight, an old woman with white hair braided into a bun on the back of her head had made her way onto his cliff and sat down watching the beach below, she had been sitting there in the same position for 10 minutes, hardly moving, just her eyes watching the path of a young girl. The wind blew wisps of hair out of her bun and around her face but she made no effort to tuck them back in. The sea bird gave a cry of fear when he felt a shiver of power, a disruption of the world, and saw the girl disappear but the old woman didn't seem to notice. She sat still watching until the ocean waves smoothed away the small footprints, the only proof someone had been there. Only then did she stir, the bird heard her quietly murmur, "Goodbye my child, safe travels" and flew off as the woman finally hauled herself to her feet. Raising her eyes to the bird flying against the pale blue cloudless sky she again spoke "spirit guard her please" she did not ask for the child's return, it was bad luck, she would trust that she and Lihieli each had a purpose in the great plan, but she did hope to see her granddaughter again some day. Wrapping her shawl tightly around her flapping black dress she grabbed her walking stick and without looking back slowly made her way down the narrow path towards the house which suddenly looked abandoned, she knew inside it would be silent and empty inside, isolated on its little spot on the edge of the beach with just the ghosts and memories to live there with the old woman now.

The doctor summoned Mrs Doyle at half past two. The call was not exactly unexpected, the girl had been sick for some time now, it was just a question of how long she would fight. She had shown herself to be surprisingly stubborn even at the end. So when Mrs. Doyle received the call there was no sadness in her voice and hardly any surprise, she merely thanked him for the call and made her way to the house the girl had been. Of course, that may have had less to do with the girls illness and more to do with what type of woman Mrs. Doyle was. None of the children in her care knew what her first name was, it was rumored that she didn't even have one. Of course the rumors also said that she had come out of her mum already in her fiercely starched shirt and hat. None of the children had ever seen her without her stiff white shirt, a long black skirt or dress, and hat. Mrs. Doyle was not a frivolous women and had no need for fun colorful garments or fun and frivolry in anything else. She arrived at the house shaking off the London rain and went upstairs to meet the doctor and thank him for his care. Her trademark hat was firmly pined down over her tightly curled hair. Although her angular features betrayed nothing to the doctor who assumed the poor woman was grieving the other children in the house could tell by the wrinkles around the corners of her mouth that she was displeased at being called away from her errands. The woman looked down at the small girl on the bed, always pale and small for her age she looked even more so now, her skin hardly darker than the white sheets she lay on, the tips of her toes not reaching the edge of the largest bed the child had probably ever been in. Mrs. Doyle had to lean in close to see if she was still breathing and was mildly surprised to note that indeed she was.

The doctor interrupted her "it won't be long now, we've done all we can"

The woman nodded "I know, thank you for everything"

The doctor nodded looking sadly at the small body on the bed finally he sighed and picked up his bag. Mrs. Doyle walked him to the door they stood there for a moment but neither said anything. Finally the doctor sighed again

"if you need anything"

"I know where to find you" Mrs. Doyle reassured the kind man, and he walked out the door.

The woman walked back upstairs; her frown deepened as she stood staring at her young charge. She had always been a sad, quiet little girl, rarely playing with the other children, easily scared by their boisterous games. Mrs. Doyle didn't think she'd ever heard the girl laugh or even say anything other than "please" and "thank you" a sickly person, maybe her soul wasn't attached firmly enough to this world, she'd been in and out of the doctors countless times since coming to live in the house. And now it looked like this would be the last. Nevertheless this quiet, unhappy creature was Mrs. Doyle's responsibility and don't let anyone ever say that she shirked her responsibilities, so she called for a maid to watch the child. She didn't have the time to stay with her, not with the other children to take care of and keep out of trouble. At least someone should sit with the girl at the end, and since she didn't have family or friends a maid would do. With that matter concluded Mrs, Doyle walked out to return to her errands. For a brief moment the thought flickered in her head that she would not be sad when she no longer had to deal with that particular charge but she quickly squelched the uncharitable thought and said a quick prayer for the girl to pass quickly before putting the whole matter out of her head and focusing instead on what she would buy for dinner.

Twelve year-old Sam woke up sore. That was the first thought he had when he woke up, that his ribs and side hurt, and when he yawned and stretched he realized that he must have a split lip too. His next thought was to wonder what the hell his brother was doing waking him up so early when he didn't have school today.

"what do you want?" he asked his voice still full of sleep
"hey, do me a favor?" his brother asked
"what" Sam grunted. His brother knew he would do it, Sam idolized him and would probably do anything he asked
"I need you to give someone something for me"

Something in his voice made Sam sat up in bed. The words were casual enough but his confident brother sounded uncomfortable He looked hard at his brother who wasn't meeting his eyes.
"what is it?"
"you don't need to know that Bones" his brother snapped back "you just need to deliver it"

Sam was afraid. His brother ever treated him like this. Something was wrong. And he had called him Bones. The thing was, he was kid of in a gang. it wasn't like a real gang he had just kept hanging out with the same kids he had always hung out with and at some point other people had stated calling them a gang so they made up a name for themselves, The Angels. Its not like they killed people or robbed anything or sold drugs, they just hung out and played basketball and soccer the same as always, nothing changed except that they claimed the playground they always hung out in as "their turf" his brother was the unofficial leader because he was usually smart and everyone liked him, and he was one of the oldest. Last week they had been bored and decided that they needed "gang-member names" something that made them seem tough. Sam had gotten the name Bones, his brother Michael was given the name Viper. Sam thought it might be kind of stupid but he'd never let anyone else say that and so yesterday in school when Adam was making fun of him for his new nickname he had shoved him and they had gotten in a fight. That was why he wasn't going to school today, two-day suspension for his first offense for fighting in school. But the way his brother called him Bones now was different, it didn't sound like a stupid nickname, something was wrong. Sam had sensed it before but the use of his new name had confirmed it. But still, his brother was asking him to do something and he despite his apprehension he wouldn't let him down. Sam nodded and held out his hand for the package. He was surprised to see a brown paper bag, the kind kids took to lunch with them. It looked innocent enough, maybe he had been over reacting; maybe his brother was just antsy to get going. He quickly wrote down the address of Michael's friend and rolled back over to go back to sleep promising he'd do it as soon as he got up.

Two years later Sam thought back to that first time as he made another run for his brother and gang. If he had known what would happen would he have gone through with it? Would he have walked those fifteen blocks to the apartment Michael told him about and slid it in the mail slot? Or would he have throw it away, burned it, anything to keep the shit away from his older brother? It doesn't matter now, he thought to himself, I'm in too deep. One of Michaels friends knew someone who knew someone who was a major player on the streets where they lived. He had gotten Michael involved in the streets and Michael had pulled the rest of them in on it. He had started small, as just an errand boy, but quickly proved himself useful and moved on to dealing. No longer just kids playing around the Angels had expanded their turf until they controlled the whole area from the school until East main St. and from Willow in the north down to the bridge down south. They had gotten new recruits too, no longer just the loose group of eight kids who hung out together and played games somehow they had developed a real hierarchy, Michael had held onto his leadership, and organized the others including any new people that wanted to join, or kids that Michael wanted in the group. Michael had dropped out of school, after a while, he figured this was his life and there was nothing school could teach him that would be useful for running a gang. Besides, he was good on the streets, had a natural talent for hearing things that others might not and using that knowledge to his best advantage. He was likeable and charming and knew how to get people to do what he wanted without them realizing it was what he wanted. He kept a pretty tight hold on the leadership and still had connections with the bigger gangs in the area. Right now they were mostly selling drugs in the schools in the areas. It is easier for kids to do that stuff, they don't stick out in school and nobody notices if kids pass stuff to each other. However, Michael had been trying to get in on some bigger things lately. The way things were shaping up it looked like soon enough the Angels would be one of the bigger more influential crews in the area. Although Sam shared his brother's talents he was still trying to stay in school. At fourteen he had just started high school and hoped that he might be able to graduate but it was hard. Sometimes he had to skip school because he had to do stuff for his brother and friends. And even when he went to school he got into so many fights these days, people starting shit with him because of his brother or because he was in a gang, it was hard defending the honor of all of them. Sometimes he wondered if it was even worth it, he was so behind on his schoolwork too, maybe he should just drop out and join his brother. He spent a couple minutes lost in a pleasant daydream of what it would be like, them running the streets together. They could probably take over some of the other outfits within a year or less, expand their territory, more prestige, more money; it was so much easier than going to school. He thought of Tony's Lexus convertible and huge television, his brother's girl who always looked nice and got her nails done every week. Girls like when you can spend money on them and buy them things. But then Sam shook his head. He would stay in school a little longer. He already knew that nothing comes without a price and he wasn't quite willing to pay the price yet. The costs were still too high, for now. Instead he turned his focus to where he was going. He was going to one of Viper's contacts to pick up some cocaine which they would split up and sell at school. Viper had Sam be his delivery boy a lot because even though he didn't look as young and innocent as he had at twelve, he was still a lot less suspicious walking around with a heavy backpack than any of the other Angels would be. Sam was in the next town over, where kids went to school in uniforms and got picked up by their parents in shiny cars. He was supposed to go to one of the big houses on Chestnut Street, apparently Viper's contact had a girl in the house who would give him what he needed. Sam paused a minute to look wistfully at some kids who looked about his age laughing and getting into a car with their LL Bean backpacks and Northface sports bags. Then he shook himself and sneered at them instead, turning around to find the house and get back to his brother, back to his life.

AN: okay once again, please review, if you do I will read something of yours and review it. I'm especially wondering about the POV and if you think I used too much/too little description. Also, is it confusing with Sam and Michaels nicknames? Thank you! PS I think this is already the longest thing I've ever written that wasn't for school