(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


8. Chapter 8 ~ Raven

I’ve lived my whole life trapped inside walls, thinking that the second I escaped and stepped outside the door alone and unprotected then the universe would implode or a meteor would hit the earth and wipe out all of mankind. My life was the same day over and over, played on one endless loop. I just sat in a bay window, staring out at the world like it was a portrait in a gallery.

Then, I left the house, and stepped outside.

For quite literally the first time since I came to this town I was independant, I made a choice, and left these walls...and you know what? The world didn’t implode, mankind lived to see another day, and I went on to live what was probably the best day of my life so far. Deprived of the real world for so long, I became a bit addicted, and started sneaking out more and more-well, not sneaking as such, more leaving without telling anyone, at times when they wouldn’t find out. It’s...tactical independance, and I can’t get enough of it. Even when I can’t leave unnoticed, I go and sit outside on our patio, unable to breathe in anything except the cooling fresh cornish air.

It’s been weeks since I first left the house, and since then all I’ve been able to think about is that feeling of freedom, and the adrenaline hit of taking a risk. I’ve spent so much of my time with Ryan that I almost know his Grandma’s house like the back of my hand. We go to the beach on sunny days, and play board games when it’s wet. I know it’s strange, but I feel like if someone other than Ryan had invited me out that day things would have gone differently, Ryan gets me...well the me I let him see anyway. He seems to understand what it’s like to feel different, but even more importantly than that, he seems to understand what it’s like to be afraid of who you are.

Of course, Mapelli is clueless about my change in attitude. Unlike me she wasn’t forced into isolation, too young to say no, she chose to be alone, she prefers the shadows...like the others. She wouldn’t be able to comprehend the way I’m feeling, she thinks I’m like her, she thinks I’ve accepted who I am- what I am, but I haven’t, I just don’t have the strength to admit my weakness. Mapelli’s always been untrusting and dull. She was nicknamed ‘Ellie’ when we were younger, living in foster placements together, and I’m sure that if she could have opened her mouth, she would have corrected them. She certainly makes sure I refer to her by her full name, the glares she gives when I slip up are enough to make anyone cower, let alone me. She’s Mapelli June, misfit and proud. I’m Raven June, confused little girl. If she knew I was venturing outdoors unprotected she’d flip, she’d probably lock me inside- she might even keep me in a single room, just to keep me safe of course, that’s all Mapelli cares about, safety. She’d calm down eventually and let me out, but she wouldn’t trust me much for a long while afterwards. She’d take it upon herself to become my shadow. I don’t want another shadow, I’ve had enough of darkness, I want to stand outside in the sun.

Mapelli’s in the kitchen right now, doing the dishes. The others are all upstairs as usual, in the attic rooms, not wanting to risk being seen by anyone through the windows. Me and Mapelli are the faces of this house, the part people see, and never really look beyond. They all make up the brain and heart, invisible yet there, and if people really really look deeper, they might catch a glimpse of them. It’s fine though, we all like our little roles. They don’t want the world to see them, they may be proud misfits, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten how cruel people can be. It’s better for everyone if people believe me and Mapelli live here alone.

I walk over to give my sister a hand, drying up the dripping wet soapy dishes and putting them back where they belong. She doesn’t react to my aid, she just keeps on scrubbing, focusing entirely on her work. This small, simple gesture doesn’t rank highly enough in her mind to earn a proper reaction. I continue nevertheless, knowing that to stop doing so would trigger a reaction. Halfway through my phone pings, and Mapelli looks over her shoulder, trying to read the notification. I get there first though, snatching the phone up off the counter so she can no longer read the message that was sent.

Ryan: Hey :) So, I know what you’ll say, but tomorrow the conditions are supposed to be amazing for surfing...and well, you know. So yeah, the offer’s open.

I sigh, knowing that my response will disappoint him, even if it is the one he’s expecting.

Me: I can’t, sorry.

I place it back down, and rejoin Mapelli, finishing the chore. Mapelli pats my back as a sort-of make-do thank you, and heads upstairs to be with the others, I can hear them yelling from down here, and she probably thinks it’s her job to sort them all out. I head back out onto the patio, sitting down on the steps instead of a chair, my phone in my hand and I read back through my old conversations with Ryan. They all go the same way. We chat about how we’re both doing, whether or not we’re busy, what we were planning on doing that day, then he asks me to join him and his friends surfing, and I say no...and he doesn’t reply after that, our conversation ends. Ever since we first met he’s been trying to get me to go surfing with him, I claim to have changed so much since then, but how can I prove it? Can I really call myself confident if the only person I can be confident around is Ryan? I take out my phone, not letting my mind catch up with my hands as I send my message.

Me: Actually...tomorrow sounds great, I’ll see you then.

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