(Short story)
Rhiannon Turner hasn't been to the Cornish village of Pur Lowen in years, not since her Grandfather died. In that time a lot has changed, and Rhiannon has found himself, and become Ryan.
When Ryan returns to Pur Lowen for the summer holidays he finds himself oddly drawn to Raven June, the beautiful girl next door, who's unsettling past keeps her, and her sister Mapelli, silent most of the time.
But Ryan knows a thing or two about overcoming challenges, and he's determined to reach Raven, despite her selective mutism.
What Ryan doesn't realise is that there's more to Raven and her sister than that which meets the eye...and Raven has a secret


11. Chapter 11 ~ Ryan

Raven’s disappeared.

She’s vanished - ‘poof’, gone like the wind. One moment she was rushing out, exploring the world, testing her limits, breaking free, and the next, she was gone.

No texts, no appearances, no sign of her existence. She went into that house a couple of days ago, and she hasn’t come out since. I’ve sent tons of messages, but she still hasn’t replied. The worst part is when I try to tell my mum or dad or gran all they do is laugh and tell me to calm down, they don’t understand, sure, Raven is weird, but this is weirder.

I know I’m probably over-reacting, I know she’s probably fine, but I can’t just move on and forget about it, I have to do something. I slam my book back down onto the table, and quickly throw on my coat, acting without hesitation as a plan forms in my mind. Surely this will work...surely this will put things right…

I leave the house and half-run over to Raven’s, moving quicker than my thoughts, not letting them talk me out of this. Before I can change my mind, I knock three times against the hard oak, and stand back, waiting for a reply…

...but one doesn’t come.

It’s as if the house is deserted, like nobody lives inside it.

“Raven?” I call out, not giving up, “Raven it’s me, Ryan. Raven are you in there? Raven?” Again, my only reply is an eery silence. I turn and walk away with a knot in my stomach. They must be in. They never go out when it’s not market day. They’re in there, she’s in there, and she’s ignoring me for some reason.

I get out my phone, sending a quick text as a last resort before I finally give up.

Me: Haven’t seen you in a few days, you know where to find me when you’re ready.

And with that, I walk away, heading back inside. I’m so lost in thought that I don’t look where I’m going, and I walk right into my grandma.

“You okay Ryan? You look like death.” She remarks, sighing.

“I’m fine gran, don’t worry.” I try to assure her, forcing a smile.

“I’m old, not stupid.” She says, “What’s wrong?” I give in, and let her sit me down on the sofa.

“It’s Raven from nextdoor, we used to-well, we used to hang out, texting mostly, but a few days ago she actually went surfing with me, and well, now she’s ignoring me, like she’s disappeared.” I tell her.

“Well if it’s that girl I’m not surprised!” My grandma chuckles, “She’s always been an odd one.”

“No- but, you see...we were having fun, I know she was enjoying it. She couldn’t stop smiling, you should have seen her! I know something must be up for her to be so distant, I want to be there for her, but she won’t let me- not right now anyway.” I try to help her understand, like most of the people in this village my grandma can’t see passed the mystery when it comes to Raven June.

“How did you feel?” She asks me, out of the blue.

“How did you feel when you first walked into school in the boys uniform instead of the girls? How did you feel when you cut you hair short and started going to the barbers instead of the hairdressers? How did you feel when you told your parents you didn’t identify as a lady? How did you feel when you did exactly the same things she did a couple of days ago? How did you feel when you finally set yourself free?”

“...I don’t know, good? Happy? Accepted?” I try to find the point in her words.

“But you also felt scared. Scared of what people might think, scared of how people might react, scared of being judged and mistreated and discriminated against.” She reminds me, “You were scared, she probably is too. Give her time and she’ll soon come round, all you have to do is be patient and wait.”

I thank my grandma and leave her alone, slightly comforted. I walk over to the kitchen and stare out at the patio, unwillingly letting my gaze shift over to Raven’s house. I know that in some ways my grandma is right, Raven probably is a little scared. She’s just faced her biggest fears, it’s enough to make anyone a little uneasy, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she never wanted to leave that house again...but I also know that fear wouldn’t stop her from replying to my messages, or from answering the door, she feels safe around me, I think. I don’t believe that she wouldn’t reach out to me if she was feeling down, I’d like to think that we have a stronger bond than that. Then again, I’m not sure what I know when it comes to Raven June.

Knowing I still don’t feel right about this, I decide to try someone else, someone who might know Raven a bit better than my grandma.

I walk briskly over to Zoe’s house, not wasting a single second.

“Ryan, what are you doing here? You didn’t text me, did you? I never look at my phone-”

“No, no, don’t worry, I just needed to come over.” I cut her off, stepping inside.

“Well...okay, come and sit down.” She fumbles, walking over to the sofa, I sit down beside her, “What’s up? You look awful- no offense.”

“It’s Raven,” I reveal, “She’s not replying to my texts, I even knocked at her door, but she didn’t answer it. It’s like she’s disappeared.”

“I hate to break it to you Ryan,” she says, “But Raven June isn’t famous for her social skills.”

“No, I get that, but this time it’s different,” I tell her, “It’s not like her to be this quiet, not around me anyway.” Zoe sighs, trying to understand me, really trying. Unlike me Zoe’s never really got to meet the real Raven, she doesn’t know how confusing all this really is, how odd it is for her to just ignore me for days, especially after the amazing time we had surfing together.

“Okay…” she begins, biting her lip, “Have you considered the fact that she might just need a bit of time to herself for a while?”

“That’s what my grandma said too, but I don’t think it’s fear making her do this. She wouldn’t ignore my texts because she’s scared about her future, she’d come to me for support, she wouldn’t shut me out.” I explain.

“Maybe it’s not fear then? Maybe she needs some time alone for another reason? Like, I don’t know...maybe things are moving a little too fast for her? After all, she never left that house alone before you came along, and all of a sudden she’s changed, like she’s a whole other person. That must be a little daunting for her, perhaps she just needs some time to think about who she really is? I know I would if I was in her shoes.” She comes up with another theory, this one much more plausible than the last. It does all seem to fit...Raven has changed a lot since I first met her, and that could be confusing for her…

“So you think this is my fault?” I ask, looking down at the carpet.

“Not necessarily in a bad way, but- well, anyone can see how much you’ve changed her, how much you’ve helped her...maybe it’s time for a brief break from all the fast-paced drama?” She treads carefully, her eyes sympathetic.

“I know, it’s just…”

“....it’s just you miss her.” She finishes my sentence for me, taking her hands in my own, “I get it, you two got very close, and all of a sudden your worlds apart again. It’s natural to miss her, especially considering- never mind.”

“Never mind what?” I push her.

“Well...you two are very close, the only person she’s closer to than you is her sister, and…” she trails off again, grimacing awkwardly.

“It’s not like that.” I suddenly realise what she’s getting at, “We’re friends, nothing more.” Zoe believes me, and relaxes. I let out a sigh of relief as the tension leaves the room, feeling a lot calmer than when I first came her.

“Do your friend a favour Ryan,” Zoe looks up at me, her eyes firm but kind, “Give her some space.”

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