(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


9. Chapter 9 ~ Raven

I love my sister, I really do. She cares about me more than anyone else in the world, and without her, I’d be a mess, probably sleeping in the streets with cardboard as a duvet. She keeps me clothed, fed, warm, and safe...and I’ll never be able to thank her enough for everything she’s done.

...But she can be a real pain at times.

Paranoid and stiff, she stands in the way of my potential and freedom like a brick wall, sometimes all I want to do is smash her down and run away, starting anew somewhere.

To summarise, if Mapelli knew I was planning on spending an entire day outside the house she’d lose it. Which is why I need to be crafty. Mapelli’s upstairs with everyone else at the moment, in the attic. The attic door has a dodgy doorknob, it often falls off on the outside, meaning I have to run over and reattach it so they can all get out. If I were to nudge it so it fell off, they’d be trapped, and it would all look like a harmless mistake. I can claim I never heard them yelling, that I thought it was just them yelling at one another again. They’d never know the truth.

As I nudge the doorknob gently, my stomach fills with fear. What have I become? A few weeks ago I would never have dreamed of doing such a thing. It falls to the ground with a gentle ‘thud’, and, before I can change my mind, I rush off back downstairs, chucking on my coat and running out of the door, free at last.

I’m too relieved to regret my actions, excitement overwhelms all my other emotions. Just feeling the morning air of my cheeks seems to blow away all my doubt, carrying my negative thoughts away with the wind. Beaming, I run on, jogging over to the boathouse.

Ryan is already there when I arrive, zipping up his wetsuit. There’s a girl with him, she’s tall and blonde and thin, she’s helping him get ready. I’m not sure why, but my stomach doesn’t seem to like this girl, it twists and churns and aches at the sight of her stretching out the fabric across his arm. I’m not sure what it is I am feeling, but I know I don’t like it. Luckily I am extremely well-practised when it comes to masking emotions, and I force a smile, walking over.

“Raven, hey! You came.” Ryan spots me, a little surprised that I actually made it down, “Zoe, this is Raven June, Raven, this is my friend Zoe. Zoe, could you find her a costume? She hasn’t done this before.”

“Sure,” the blonde girl, ‘Zoe’, grins, “Come on, they’re just over here.” She leads me away, directing me inside the small hut, pointing at a rack of wetsuits. I get a closer look at her, I recognise her a bit, her eyes seems familiar somehow. “This one looks about your size, go try it on.” She hands one over to me, I smile a thank you, and walk into the changing area.

The material is sticky and tight, it suffocates my thighs and feels like a blood pressure monitor against my arms, is it too small? Or is this how they’re supposed to feel? They do look tight-fitting on other people I suppose… I persevere through, dragging it up my legs and across my body until it covers me. I stand up, waddling out of the room, unable to walk properly. Zoe comes over and does my zip for me.

“There, perfect fit.” She says, “Now all you have to do is tie your hair up and you’ll be good to go.” I do as she tells me, following her back outside to join the others. “Oh,” she stops me just before we exit, “Don’t worry about this being your first time, everyone struggles at first, just go out there and have some fun.” I nod to tell her I understand. It’s a bit weird how nice she’s being, I’ve lived my life afraid of people, worried that if they ever found out about me they’d turn on me, but Ryan and Zoe are nicer to me than most of the people I live with...and I feel really good when I’m around them. Nervous, yes, but it’s a nice excited sort of nervous, it feels nice.

Once outside, we all group together, grabbing our boards and running out towards the sea. I stay close to Ryan, still not too comfortable with everyone else, and he lags behind so I can keep up, as my tight wetsuit slows me down. I feel a sharp icy pain in my toes as I step into the water, and automatically want to jump back again, the water stings my skin. Ryan laughs at my reaction.

“It’ll be fine once you get in there, you adjust to the temperature.” He assures me, giving me a gentle shove forward. Gritting my teeth, I launch myself in, submerging into the freezing sea. My entire body feels like it’s been struck by cold lightning, but I keep on walking deeper and deeper and deeper still, until my feet no longer touch the ground and I’m kicking to stay above the water. “Here, let me show you how to get on your board,” Ryan offers, “Try to keep it level and swing your left leg over so you’re sat on it, like this.” He demonstrates, making it look easy. I push down gently onto the board, and move to swing my leg over, but before I can it’s tipped over from my weight and forced me under the water. I spring back up, my brain crying out at the freezing temperature, Ryan chuckles, moving my hair away from my eyes and pushing my board back towards me. “Try again,” he tells me, “This time be a little quicker.” I grab the board, sighing. Tight wetsuits, a freezing sea, and a board that won’t behave...why do people love surfing so much? I press down to keep it level, and try again, moving as quick as I can to try and get on before it can tip. This time it works, and I’m perched comfortably in the center of my board. “Well done,” Ryan smiles, “Now, try to move and lie flat on your board, then you can start to paddle with you arms and swim along the waves.” I give him a confused look, lost among his words. “You probably won’t get to standing today, but if you lie flat like this,” he adjusts so his chest rests against the wood, “Then you can use your arms to swim along.” I try to copy his movements, moving so I’m lying on my board. I extend out my arms and swing them in and out of the water, and just like that, I begin to move forward. Ryan too, starts to paddle along beside me, and we continue to swim attached to our boards for the rest of the session. I have to stay, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Despite the rough start, I really enjoyed being out there with him.

We rush back onto the shore, and I shiver uncontrollably as my body tries to warm up. Ryan fetches me a towel and we hurry back to the boathouse to get changed and dry.

The hot shower feels amazing against my icy white skin, and hits me like a heat wave all other. Enjoying the warmth, I slowly shampoo the salt water out of my hair and rub the soft soapy sponge against my sandy skin. I don’t want to leave the heat of the steamy shower room, but I do, quickly drying myself off and throwing my clothes back on.

Outside, Ryan is waiting for me and the others, grinning ear to ear.

“Chips?” He suggests, and we all smile.

“Well duh.” Zoe giggles, sarcastically rolling her eyes.

For some reason the chips taste even better today than they did before, their salty coating makes my mouth water. I think it’s this atmosphere, this excited, happy atmosphere, that makes each and every detail, big or small, that little bit better. I guzzle my portion down hungrily, I think I worked up quite the appetite surfing. Looking around I can see everyone else did too, they scoff there portions down at lightning speed.

We separate after that, Zoe and her friends head on, whilst Ryan stays behind to walk back home with me.

“Did you have fun?” He asks as we walk. I nod, a curve in my lips. “I told you that you would, does this mean you’ll tag along more often?” I shrug, not making any promises. I want to, but it’s more a question of if I’ll be able to. Will I be able to fool Mapelli and the others again? How long until they find out? What will happen if they do? “Well, anyway, I hope you do, because today was amazing.” I smile, staring down at my feet. I can see my house about twelve meters away in the distance, and Ryan turns to go towards his. “Thanks for coming today Raven.” He grins at me, before turning and walking over.

I walk over to my front door, opening and shutting it softly, putting my bag down on the table and hanging my coat up on the rack. Quietly, I remove my sandy shoes, and head towards the kitchen. When I get there I gasp in fright, Mapelli is there, standing tall and firm with an angry look on her face, and a doorknob in her hand. I know from the look in her eyes that she knows. Looking out of the window, the sun is setting, and my amazing day is coming to an end. I sigh, looking up at her pleadingly, this is going to be a long night.

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