Raven’s Run 20

Raven’s hair was free and streaming back and she seemed to be having the time of her life. I know I was.

I showed her how to steer and after a while I gave her the chance to practice. She attacked the task ferociously, and after half an hour she was beginning to develop a fine and delicate touch.

I tried to lead her into talking more about her family, but she avoided the subject. She did not seem secretive so much as she seemed uncomfortable, as if she didn’t want to think about them. Until I mentioned siblings. 

“Brothers, no; but I have a sister. Daddy’s favorite. The kind of girl who can do no wrong. Never gets in trouble. Never gets less than an A in school. Always the best at everything she does. She’s really great!”

Her voice was heavy with sarcasm. I said, “Older or younger?”

“Younger. Eight years younger than me. She’s an ice skater. She’ll be in the Olympics someday, if she doesn’t break her leg or something.”

I smiled at the venom in Raven’s voice, and asked, “What’s her name?”

“Pilar. You know, after the Virgin Mary, the first pillar of the Church.”

I laughed and Raven looked daggers at me. I said, “Even her name is perfect.”

“Exactly!”

“I watch ice skating sometimes, but I have never heard of her.”

“Do you go to the meets or just watch on TV?”

“TV.”

“A big meet will have a bunch of skaters, but the networks only show four or five of them. They shoot a lot of footage, then after the meet is over they splice together what they need. When you see it on television, it looks as if they just happened to film the winners. If someone makes an unexpectedly good showing, they go back to stock footage from previous years so that it looks as if they knew all along that she was going to be a winner.”

“How long has Pilar been the family favorite?”

“Since forever!”

When I had first fished Raven out of the water, she had spoken standard English. Now that she was becoming relaxed with me, her schoolyard Chicano-English mannerisms were beginning to creep out. She asked, “How about you?”

“I have a sister, and an older brother that I thought was perfect. Donal, was his name; he was much older so we didn’t compete. I haven’t seen him in years.”

“Why?”

“He left home when I was nine. Just disappeared. I never knew where he went or why. Maybe my parents did, but they never said. He used to fight with my dad all the time.”

“Boy, I can relate to that!”

*****

At least ten years before I wrote Raven’s Run, I wrote the first sixty or so pages of a novel called Eden Lake. The names were different, but the main character had a father who had run away to Canada after causing the drunk driving accident in which his wife was killed. The son in Eden Lake was saddled with raising his younger sister, an event that led to mutual alienation.

Ian is a different character, but I grafted the Eden Lake backstory onto him, complete with estranged sister, and added Donal. All this was to provide plots for future novels should Ian have become a series character. more tomorrow

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