(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


16. Chapter 16 ~ Ryan

Raven June is a mystery. I knew that the moment I first saw her. You can tell from the way she stands, all hunched up, closed off from the world around her, staring at the trees as if they might lunge at her. She’s also a challenge. You have to battle past her barriers (and her over-protective sister) to meet the real Raven, the girl with the haunting past, struggling to find her freedom. I knew that when I first saw her too, but there’s something I’m only just beginning to realise.

Raven June is a liar.

The girl with the shut lips, who barely ever leaves the house, who’s selective mutism stops her supposedly talking to anyone but her sister...she spoke to me. And yes, this could simply be a gain in trust, allowing her to talk to me at last- but I know, deep down, that it isn’t. Raven hadn’t seen me in weeks before last night, and over that time our initial bond withered away, leaving only a loose connection for us to grasp on. That weak bond wouldn’t have supported such a monumental breakthrough. That’s how I know she has a secret, that’s how I know she’s a liar.

...I’m just not too sure what she is lying about.

Last night the inexplicable occurred. Thus, the solution must be impossible. Raven June has a secret, a big one. The question now is, do I try to solve it? Or do I let my friend keep her inner turmoils private?

The only way I’ll find the answers I need is through asking the people who know so so much more than I do about Pur Lowen, and the June sisters. Luckily, I’m currently living inside the house of one of those people.

“Hey Grandma,” I call out as I knock twice on the door to the study, “Can we talk?” Before she can reply I open the door a crack, leaning my head through the door.

“Oh Ryan, yes, of course.” She smiles, quickly shoving something down onto her lap. Concerned, I walk over.

“What have you got there?”

“Oh it’s nothing…”

“Grandma, show me.” I plead, I can see in her eyes that whatever it is is troubling her. Her hands shake as she lifts up the small A5 photographs onto the desk, spreading them out. Some of them are decades old, some of them are more recent, but all of them have one thing in common...Grandad.

“I know it’s silly, I-I just like to look at them sometimes,” she sighs, “I know it isn’t right, but I can’t help myself.”  I sit down opposite her, looking at the images, knowing that I’ll have to put my queries to one side for a moment. I pick up the one on the far left, it Grandma & Grandad on their wedding day, stood outside the church, confetti raining down on them both.

“Do you miss him often?” I find myself asking.

“Only when I let myself take a pause.” She tells me, her lip quivering subtly.

“What happened that night was wrong,” I nod, “He was so good, he didn’t deserve to be one of the dead.”

“Fire’s don’t choose their victims, Ryan.” She reminds me, “Now what was it you wanted?”

“Oh, yeah…” I snap out of it, looking up towards the ceiling, “I was just wondering if you could tell me anything about the June sisters? It’s just, Raven was at the festival yesterday without Mapelli, and it made me curious.” I get to the point, coming up with a flimsy excuse towards the end, I can hardly tell my Grandma that I heard Raven speak.

“I told you already, they moved in next door about six years ago. There’s nothing more to say, they keep themselves to themselves.” She shrugs, “Mapelli was sixteen, Raven was eleven, they had a man with them then, a foster father...but he left town and gave the house to Mapelli when she turned eighteen two years later, and he hasn’t come back since.”

“So it’s just them? In that huge house?” I check.

“Well it must be, mustn't it?” She shakes her head, “Though some people think they share it with a couple of ghosts, some people claim to have heard a man yelling from inside that house.”

“Okay...thanks Grandma.” I force a smile, leaving her to her pictures, and her memories. I’ve always been close with her, and I can tell when she wants to be left alone, as well as when she needs to be.

I find myself wandering out onto the patio, resting against the wooden gate. I look towards her house, sighing. It looks like an ordinary house, with ordinary brick walls, ordinary windows, and an ordinary garden. Yet the more you look, the more you notice. The closed curtains, the stiff locked doors, the chimney without any smoke. There’s something more to that house, I just can’t find out what it is.

“Hey,” Zoe walks up behind me, “What happened to you last night? You disappeared with Raven and I didn’t see you after that.”

“I went home, I-I didn’t feel to good.” I lie, not looking her in the eye.

“Oh, well, do you feel better now?” She checks.

“Yeah...a bit better,” I nod, “Zoe? Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what’s on your mind?”

“Do you believe the ghost rumours about that house?” I ask, pointing to my left. Zoe looks where I’m pointing, biting her lips, obviously not expecting that sort of question.

“Well I’m not sure about ghosts...but something weird is going on in that house.” She thinks carefully about her answer, speaking slowly, uncertain about her own opinions.

“Who lived there before they moved in six years ago?” I try a new approach, focusing on the facts.

“Nobody. It had been uninhabited for nearly a decade before they moved in. The people who owned lived elsewhere, then they died in the fire ten years ago. After that some guy bought it, then he left it to them.” Zoe explains.

“Grandma did mention a man who lived with them for a while.” I nod, trying to piece everything together.

“Yeah, Mr Quentin, he was nice...always had candy in his pockets,” Zoe smiles, “But he left the moment Mapelli turned eighteen.” A subtle silence arrives as neither of us know what to say next, we just stand there, staring at the old house. I can’t help but picture Raven in there, sitting at a table reading, or perhaps cooking in the kitchen, or somewhere else occupied with her own thoughts and troubles. I imagine her life as quite a lonely one for some reason, even though her sister never seems to leave her side. “Ryan,” Zoe speaks again, “Why are you asking me all of this?” I don’t reply at first, contemplating how to reply. I look into her eyes, her trusting, kind eyes, and I know I can trust her with the truth.

“This might sound crazy but she spoke to me, Raven spoke to me.” I tell her.

“Ryan that’s not possible, perhaps it was just someone else speaking nearby who-?”

“No, no, it was her.” I cut her off, “I’m sure of it.”

“But Ryan, she can’t talk.” Zoe reminds me.

“That’s just the thing though...I think she can.” I try to make her see things through my eyes, laying it all out for her, “I think Raven June is a liar, a liar with a secret.” Zoe stares at me for a moment, her expression unreadable. I can understand why, I’m asking her to believe the impossible.

“Fine.” She speaks at last.

“Fine what?”

“Fine, I’ll help you look into her, then we’ll see if she has a secret or not. Deal?” She offers, holding out her hand. I don’t even have to think about it, I take her hand in mine and firmly shake it once.


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