(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


6. Chapter 6 ~ Raven

My phone beeping serves as my alarm clock, jolting my eyes awake as it vibrates for a split second on top of my desk. I turn to lie on my back and realise I’ve overslept, the sun’s up already. Usually I wake up an hour or so before sunrise and nap later on in the day if I get tired. I sigh, drawing back my curtains and sitting up to see what it was that caused my phone to sound, though I’m pretty sure I already know the answer.

Ryan: Good morning :) It’s a great day, the surfing conditions are amazing…

I smile, sending him back my reply.

Me: The answer is no, but you already knew that.

He’s been trying to get me out surfing pretty much every day since I gave him my number, getting increasingly confident that I’ll say yes with each ask. We’ve been texting for a couple of weeks now, but we haven’t seen each other face-to-face. I waved at him from our front garden one time, but that’s the closest we’ve come. My phone buzzes again as I receive his response.

Ryan: One day…

Ryan and I have been texting a lot really, more than I expected us to at first. I mean, I knew he was curious about me, but everyone is, I didn’t realise it would result in this...dare I say it, we’ve become friends. Not that anyone else knows. Mapelli thinks friends are too risky, although I’m not foolish enough to believe that she hasn’t noticed us messaging one another, I just think she hasn’t noticed how much we do it.

I’ve never really had a friend before.

I’ve had Mapelli, and the others...but they’re more like family. Mapelli’s my elder sister and my guardian, it’s not her role to be my friend.

Ryan’s my friend, in fact, I think he might be everyone’s friend. The sort of person you simply can’t dislike. Sociable, funny, caring- everything a friend should be. I don’t think he realises just how much receiving his texts means to me, I’m not sure I realise how much they mean to me. They’re my link to the outside world, a way for me to feel a part of the village- they’re my voice.

I swing my legs out over the bed and get up, throwing on a cardigan over my pajamas and leaving my bedroom. I notice Mapelli’s bed is all made up as I go, she’s probably been up for hours. Sharing a room with her is like sharing a room with a ghost sometimes. She never actually seems to be here, even though her presence is everywhere. I can hear voices coming from the other rooms upstairs, everyone else is awake and up, Dex...Ace...Queen, all of them, having a discussion about what to do with yet another day of solitude. I ignore them and walk downstairs, fetching a bowl of cereal and sitting hunched up next to the radio.

“...and of course, two weeks today will be our annual remembrance day in memory of those lost to us ten years ago...” the news headlines whizz by, and I half-listen, my ears perking up at the mention of remembrance day. I wasn’t here ten years ago when it happened, but some of the others were, they even tried to help...not that that exactly worked out for them. Still, it doesn’t stop me and Mapelli from joining in with the events, paying our respects. The whole village attends, and that should include us too.

I can hear them talking from down here, they’re shouting now...arguing yet again. I can almost picture Mapelli sat silently among them, unable to open her mouth, just stood watching them quarrel like a disappointed parent. I try to ignore it, switching off my ears and heading over to the sink, washing up my bowl before returning to my seat, pulling the thin blanket up over my legs and curling up into a little mute ball. Nothing much has changed for me in the six years I’ve lived here, I remember the day I arrived I thought everything was going to change, that I wasn’t going to have to hide anymore- but I was wrong. Here I’m still hiding, I’m just hiding as part of a group now. I almost miss my early life, moving from one temporary foster placement to another. At least then people thought I was normal, just normal with selective mutism. Now I’m a girl with selective mutism who comes across as anything but normal. Now I’m the girl who stays indoors all day, who just sits in a bay window and stares out through the curtains. Mrs Willows was my favorite foster parent, she was always so gentle and kind, tucking me in every night, reading me a new story each day before bed. If she did think I was odd for not talking, she never showed it. Mapelli liked her too, I think, and Mapelli was never very fond of any of our foster parents, she never could learn to trust them...when Mapelli turned eighteen and left foster-care I thought I might never see her again, all of a sudden I was moving from one home to the next completely alone. Then, one day, a man showed up asking to adopt me. It all worked out fine, and I came here, to Pur Lowen, only to find Mapelli sat in the living room of the house he owned, this house, full of other people like me and Mapelli, and I realised I’d probably found my real home at last. Mr Ruperts is gone now, but I still haven’t forgotten what he did for us. Giving Mapelli the deeds to the house, then moving away so we could all live in peace. He changed my life forever, probably for the better. I wish I could find him to thank him in person, now I realise just what he did for me. Anyway, after that day I settled down here with Mapelli, and six years later, we’re still here, living quietly out in the middle of nowhere.

I lean back and shut my eyes, now only half-awake. My sort-of-slumber only lasts briefly however, ten minutes or so later I hear voices chatting and laughter coming from nextdoor. Curious, I move over to the window, lifting up the corner of the curtain to peek out. It’s Ryan, with a bunch of girls, hugging and going their separate ways outside his Grandma’s house. Two minutes later they’re all gone, and he walks back inside. It doesn’t take him long to text me, my phone buzzing behind me on the table.

Ryan: I’m back, not got anything else on all day, do you want to pop round and hang out?

I sigh, sending him my reply.

Me: I can’t, sorry.

Ryan: Why not? I swear all you do is stay indoors all day anyway.

Me: I just can’t.

I’m praying that he’ll drop it, text a quick ‘oh, okay’ and move on, but at the same time, I know he won’t.

Ryan: You can’t blow me off twice in one day! Come on, there’s no reason not to.

There’s a lot of reasons not to actually, but he can’t know that. For one, Mapelli would lock me in my room for a month. For a second, I could ruin everything for everyone. Realising that he’s not going to give in easily, I create an excuse.

Me: I’m sorry. I wouldn’t be much fun, it’s hard to hang out with someone who can’t talk.

I suppose it is a little true…

Ryan: Don’t be stupid. Just because you can’t talk doesn’t mean you can’t live.

I don’t have a clue how to respond to that.

Probably because it’s so correct. But what does it matter anyway? Ryans under informed, he doesn't understand the full gravity of all of this. I’d mess up, I’m bound to, and then we’ll have to move away again.

Then again… I’m not a child anymore. I’m seventeen, I’ll be eighteen in a month and a half, I’ll be an adult. Surely I’m old enough to be allowed to do this sort of thing? To step outside this house without my big sister as a shadow? If anything it would make me seem more normal.

I turn to look up the stairs- they’re still arguing...they might not even notice I’m gone.

Before I can change my mind, I get up and open the door, pausing for a millisecond before stepping outside, and walking over.

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