(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


19. Chapter 19 ~ Raven

I jolt each time I slam the knife down onto the carrots, so anxious even my breaths aren’t behaving. I try to maintain an unreadable expression, Mapelli’s reading on the sofa in front of me, and I can’t let her see my worries, she’ll get suspicious. I can’t let her get suspicious, she’ll keep me here tonight if she does, she’ll find out what I’m planning.

Because tonight, I break all the rules.

And the worst part is...I’m looking forward to it.

Ever since I met Ryan I felt like he got me, more than anyone else ever has before. He didn’t see the village freak, or the vulnerable girl, he just saw a neighbour, a potential friend. Nobody’s ever seen me like that before, and whilst I know tonight could change all of that, I really don’t think it will. I trust Ryan, I trust him with my secret.

I wrap up my little picnic, washing up my dishes. Mapelli thinks I’m spending the evening alone, needing some space, some time for myself. I think she’s even a bit glad to have me out of the house, it will give her a chance to talk, or rather argue, with the others without risk of me overhearing. I glance up at the clock, one hour to go. Suddenly a lump seems to swell up in my throat, the nerves finally kicking in. Even if he does understand, what then? Mapelli will find out that I told him, the others will get angry, we might even pack up and move, then I’ll never see him again. But then again, what choice do I have? I spoke to him that night at the festival, and he’s bound to have noticed...no doubt he’s spent the last few days digging into my past. He’s bound to figure it out eventually, and it’s better if I just come clean, he should hear it from me.

I’ve already decided exactly how this is going to go. We’ll meet up at seven, start eating, then when the sunsets at nine I’ll talk to him again, and I’ll explain everything. Why I can only speak in the day...why me and Mapelli live in a huge house all alone...why people hear more than two voices from outside our home. And he’ll understand, I know he will. If he doesn’t, then I’ll run. I’ll fetch Mapelli and we’ll go somewhere far away from her. Either way, tonight will change everything, for better or for worse.


Walking through the woods at night isn’t exactly the most pleasant of experiences. From the whistling of the wind, to the rustling of leaves, and the crunch of footsteps that echo all around you, all your senses are heightened so you’re constantly alert. I wish I could blame the rapid beating of my heart solely on the setting, but I know my nerves are the real cause, the closer I get the more anxious I become. Should I just turn back now? I mean, what am I actually doing here? I’m risking everything for Ryan...I just hope he’s the person I think he is...I really really hope.

I come to the clearing where we met earlier, but it’s empty, he’s not here yet. I use the time to lay out a rug and get comfortable, refusing to give in to my anxiety. I can do this. I know Ryan...he’ll understand, he’ll help me. Everything is going to be okay…

“Hey.” My heart stops at the sound of his voice behind me as I temporarily forget to breathe, my brain is telling me to run, but I am stood frozen where I stand. “Wow...you really went all out,” He walks over, admiring the picnic, “This is incredible.” I turn to face him, giving my heart some time to slow before I look him in the eye, managing a small smile. For a moment or two we just stand still, neither one of us quite sure what to do next. Then, without warning, I let myself drop to the floor, kneeling down on the rug. He copies me, lowering himself a bit slower than I did, and lifting up the lid of my basket to admire the food I’ve prepared. “Erm...I brought hummus.” He sighs, biting his lip and handing me a small plastic tub. “I-I wasn’t sure what to bring so, so I just...uh, yeah.” I shake my head, signalling to him that it’s all okay, and that I’m fully satisfied with his contribution. I am the host after all, it was my job to bring the food. He smiles in relief at my gesture, relaxing a little. I cast a quick glance towards my wristwatch, it’s seven-thirty, I’ve still got ninety minutes to change my mind. Another short silence settles around us, and again I have to be the one to break it, reaching into my basket and pulling out our sandwiches, tucking in. There’s something off about Ryan tonight, he seems preoccupied, distracted by something, as if there’s a trouble plaguing his thoughts. I don’t pry though, I of all people know just how precious secrets are.

We eat and eat until our bellies are crying out, our stomaching punching outwards, telling us to stop. Ryan settles more and more with each second that passes, laughing and joking at chatting away. He talks about his Grandma, his mother, his friend Zoe, his life back in the city...and it feels so so good to just sit back and listen, learning all about this half-stranger I trust so stupidly.

“When, when I came out as trans it felt so so good, like, it felt amazing,” he tells me, “All of a sudden this weight was just lifted off my shoulders, a weight that I didn’t realise was there before! Life just felt freer for me as a man. That’s when I finally understood everything, all the strange occurrences in my childhood, all the confusion...it all made sense.” I get out my phone, communicating with him for the first time.

Me: Who did you tell first?

In translation, who did you trust the most? I judge Ryan’s expression as he reads my message and thinks about his reply, waiting anxiously to find out.

“Zoe,” he reveals, “I don’t know why but I phoned her up and talked it out with her before I told anyone else. She understood, and she talked me through how I’d tell everyone else, like my parents and my other friends...I, I think I made the right decision there.”

Me: I agree

I glance at my watch, two minutes to go, the sun’s beginning to sink into the horizon. Ryan’s staring at me now, he’s probably lost in thought, not paying attention to his surroundings. I open up the basket and pull out our dessert, strawberries. I hold out my hand to offer him one, and he takes it, smiling.

“Why did you invite me here tonight Raven?” He asks out of the blue, sighing. I just shrug in response, I suppose it’s the correct answer. I’m not sure why I chose Ryan of all people to open up to, I just hope I’m right to trust him the way I do. “You know...in the moonlight your hair sort of glistens,” he murmurs, “Like diamonds…” The next thing I know his face is inches away from mine, and he’s leaning in, closer, and closer still, until our lips are touching, and we’re completely engulfed in one another. My hand is on his shoulder, his arm is around my waist, and we’re together, linked, a single spirit split across two entities. I feel the sun go down behind me, but in the moment I don’t care, my lips open and I continue to kiss him anyway. That is, until, I end up biting him.

He sits back, slightly embarrassed, staring down at his lower lip, which now bares a tiny cut. He dabs it with his index finger and raises it up to the moonlight to examine it.

“What the…?” He trails off.

Then, of course, the inevitable occurs, and his eyes focus off his finger, and onto me. I can see him staring at them, trying to figure out what is going on. I just smile weakly, my eyes gentle. I’d expected to feel afraid, but for some reason I’m not.

“Now you know my secret.”

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