(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


21. Chapter 21 ~ Ryan

“How could you be so completely and blindly stupid?” Mapelli yells, screaming down at her sister.

“We can trust him, he understands, he-”

“I don’t care what you think!” Mapelli cuts her off, “You’ve clearly gone insane.”

They’ve been arguing for the past twenty minutes, exchanging shouts. They’ve gone from silent to screeching, it’s as if it’s opposite day. Mapelli’s tongue really is green too, it might even be a little longer than the average tongue as well...the more I look at it there more there is to see, but at the same time, I feel bad for staring.

“Well no matter what you think he knows, so why don’t you calm down and deal with it?” Raven cries out, banging her fist down onto the table. It takes me by surprise, and it shocks Mapelli too. She stands still, stunned and silent, trying to register her anger. I move to stand behind Raven, resting my hand on her shoulder as if to say it’s okay, calm down...breathe’, and she relaxes her stiff shoulders, taking a few deep breaths. “I trust him Mapelli,” she pleads with her sister, “Please, give him a chance.” For a second something flashes across Mapelli’s face, compassion, pity, perhaps even understanding, but it doesn’t last. A moment later and her face is set in stone again, firm and unmoving. She does, however, sigh, and take a moment to think up a compromise.

“It’s not just up to you and eye though, is it?” She reminds Raven, “If you truly want this boy to be a part of your secret them he has to know everything.” Raven stiffens in front of me, the only one out of the two of us who can make sense of Mapelli’s words.

“It’s been a long night Mapelli, can’t we wait until morning?” She begs.

“What? So you and I can sit there silently whilst they all battle it out? No way. We’re doing this now.” Mapelli refuses to waver, “Come on, we need to head up to the attic.”

Raven doesn’t argue anymore, she takes my hand and leads me forward, grimacing. Mapelli goes in front, and as we walk she murmurs in my ear.

“Just stay calm and try not to irritate them, Mapelli does that enough already,” she advises me, “Just be yourself, let them know just how much you care about me and everything will be fine.”

We come to the top of a staircase, faced with an old oak door. Mapelli bends over to open up te lock, swinging the door open in one swift motion, and stepping inside. With no lights lit, and only blackness out of the window, you can’t see a thing.

“What do you want, Mapelli?” A voice grumbles from inside the darkness, “And what was all that yelling downstairs? We’re trying to sleep up here.”

“Raven’s done something stupid.” Mapelli sighs, parting from the doorway to let us through.

“What? Again? It’s not about surfing again is it because I think you overreacted last time…”

“Oh will you just shut up and listen!” Mapelli snaps, “Raven told him, the boy from nextdoor, he knows she has fangs and that I have a green tongue.”

“What? Really? Did he, did he run?” A different voice speaks.

“No, he stayed. In fact, he’s here.” Mapelli tells them, “He’s here to meet you all.”

“Well that’s...interesting.” One of the voices slurs.

“Give me a sec to put my glasses on them turn on some lights,” the other instructs Mapelli, “I want to meet this boy who didn’t run.”

Without meaning to, a take a small step closer to Raven, my nerves finally hitting me. She just squeezes my hand, I can’t see her in the darkness, but I’m pretty sure she’s smiling up at me reassuringly. Mapelli waits a moment or two before finally flicking a lightswitch. It doesn’t have a great effect, the bulb has gone in one of the lights so only have the room is dimly lit, but I do see a young man sat with his back up against the wall, with some kind of sunglasses covering his eyes. He’s got rough, uncombed honey blonde hair, and freckles dotted all around his face. His lips are curved up into a casual smirk as he slowly gets to his feet, walking over.

“I’m Dex,” he holds out his hand for me to shake, “And you are…?”

“Ryan.” I tell him, “I’m Ms Alma’s grandson.”

“I didn’t know she had a grandson, she mentioned a granddaughter but…”

“I’m transgender.” I quickly clarify, “My birth name is Rhiannon.”

“Well that clears that up.” Dex grins, folding his arms across his chest. I notice there’s nothing odd about his mouth, no fangs, no weird tongue...nothing. He must notice me staring because he soon begins to laugh. “My deformity isn’t in my mouth Ryan, it’s in my eyes.” He gestures to his sunglasses.

“Your eyes? How can your eyes be deformed?” I ask.

“Well they actually look fairly normal, it’s the effect they have on people that’s the issue.” He explains, “You see, when people look into my eyes they get really really emotional. Whatever emotion they’re currently feeling is maximised. So if they’re feeling happy, they feel euphoric. If they’re feeling sad, they feel depressed. If they’re feeling irritable, they get really angry and destructive, and so on...get it?”

“I-I think so.” I nod.

“These mirror sunglasses stop people from looking into my eyes. I still can’t go outside though, sure the sunglasses work in the summer but people would get suspicious as to why I have to wear them in the winter, wouldn’t they?”

“Yeah, yeah that makes sense.” I agree, registering the information one tiny detail at a time.

“It’s not all bad though, sometimes I quite like being a misfit.” Dex shrugs, smiling.

“That’s easy for you to say, you can hide your deformity, all of you can.” The second voice speaks from the shadows at the back of the room. I jump. I’d almost forgotten there was a second person.

“Oh don’t start that again, all you do is moan.” Dex groans.

“So would you if you were in my position.” The voice replies bitterly.

“Come out of the shadows and meet Ryan.” Dex suggests, “I think I quite like him, and he makes Raven smile which is a very rare sight to see.”

“You know what else is a rare sight to see?” The voice speaks again, walking forward, towards the light, “Me.”

At first I’m not quite sure where to look. Half her body is covered in skin, the other half in reptile scales. Patches on her arms, face, chest, and legs. Gradient of deep greens and rich browns escalating all over her body...the same shade of green as her squinted eyes, the same shade of brown as her thin, straight-falling hair. She walks slowly over, coming closer and closer until she stands beside Dex, scowling. She holds out her hand and I shake it, trying to ignore the texture of her scales that coat three out of five of her fingers and the palm over her hand.

“Ryan, meet Queenie.”

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