CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT Learning to Fly

Raven Roberts

The Bird of Prey
EAW ROSTER
Universal Women's Champion
Ms. Cash In The Vault
Messages
1,236
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1,554
Points
113
Location
Las Vegas, NV
#1
(For more on Raven’s backstory, read “These Broken Wings” http://eawnetwork.com/index.php?threads/these-broken-wings.1039/ )

CLAAAAAAANNNNGGGG!!!!

The silver tray crashes against the wall of the bus, bounding off and into the street. Raven keeps her head tucked down next to her duffel bag as the diesel engine takes her away from her neighborhood for the last time, her mother’s voice still shrieking through in the distance, fading into obscurity.

“...en...”

“Raven...”

“RAVEN!!”

Raven snaps to reality, looking up at Shayna’s angered glare.

“Kid, you’ve been here 3 months. But it constantly seems like you’re anywhere else. Do you even want to wrestle? Or is this some escape for you?”

Raven stares back at the dark skinned woman with a blank expression.

“Vivian may let you sleep here, but you’ve still gotta put in the work. I don’t know what it is about you that she likes so much, but you’ve still gotta prove it to me. This industry is my life. I’m not gonna let some homeless wretch come in here and be a burden on students who actually want to achieve something.”

Raven looks back at her. The last few years of her life flashing through her head. Her father leaving. Her mother abusing her. Danny...

“Danny...” Raven whispers, head down.

“Who in the blue hell is Sammy?” Shayna demands.

“...nothing. I’m here. I’m focused.”

“You’d best be. Im tired of you sitting here everyday, pantomiming your way through workouts. You’re in a match kid. Next Thursday night. Local show at the MGM. You’re in the dark match.”

“But... but I just got here. I’m not ready for—“

“You’ve been stinking up my gym for three damn months! Either prove to me you want to be here, or get out! If you won’t put in the effort, I will crank up the intensity to either get something out of you or break you. Your choice.”

———

After class, Raven quickly showers before getting under the covers in her bunk. The other girls living here in the dorm are advanced students, prepping for lifelong careers in wrestling. Raven is the youngest and least experienced. The only one with nowhere else to go.

“How am I supposed to compete in a match,” she thinks to herself. “I don’t even have proper gear yet. I’m not ready.” Tears form in her eyes and she pulls the covers over her head to hide. She doesn’t want to betray her own weakness in a room full of strong women.

“What do I do?” She asks herself. She reaches out and grabs the single framed picture sitting next to her bed. She pulls it in close and hugs the sketch of the winged woman for comfort. She falls asleep still worrying about what was coming.

———

A few days later, Raven walks up to Shayna, hoping to plead her case.

“You can’t make me wrestle a match yet! I don’t even have proper gear! I’ve only been here for three months! I’m not ready!”

“I’m sorry,” replies the instructor, “I didn’t realize I was here to babysit a whiny little bitch. I thought that was why you were getting private lessons with Vivian on the weekends?”

Raven is shocked by her words, she turns to see the rest of the class looking at her in disbelief.

“That’s right everyone,” shouts Shayna. “The crybaby here had one meeting with Mrs. Marshall and all of a sudden she gets to sleep in the dojo dorms, eat school provided food, and have private lessons with the owner.”

Raven is furious. “Why would you—“

“We train warriors here, Miss Thomas. You either step up to the challenge or you get your ass out in the street.” Shayna looks Raven up and down. “Either make your choice or we see what you’re really made of in six days.”

Raven stands there, jaw agape for a moment before accepting her shame and joining the rest of the class, who look at her with disgust.

———

The day of the match has arrived. Raven desperately looks for Shayna to plead her case again, but to no avail. When she returns to the dorms, there’s a box on her bed. She opens it to find a note.

You’ll need these. Good luck. -VM

Raven digs further to find a set of black wrestling boots, blue tights and a matching top.

“You’d better be ready,” Shayna says from behind. “Because tonight determines whether you get to stay here or not. Vivian’s not here to give you anymore white privilege today. We’ve agreed that set of gear will be the final piece of special treatment you get.”

Raven watches as she walks away, then she sits back on the bed, overwhelmed by what’s happening.

———

“Can’t anyone else take me to the match?”

Shayna looks at Raven from the drivers seat, irritated. “I’m the judge of your status here. No one else comes.”

“Why can’t Vivian decide my fate? She owns the school.”

“Because I don’t know what it is you said to Vivian for her to make you her little pet, but it’s gone far enough. Look here, I’m not going to let some pampered little white girl keep disrupting classes designed for trainees who actually have a future! Do you understand?”

The eighteen year old Raven stops, finally realizing she’s at her last chance, realizing that if she fails, the dream she and Danny had shared would be lost, along with her last connection to him. She breaks down crying.

“I don’t care what you’re crying about. Get yourself together. You have a match in a few hours.”

———

Raven tells Shayna her story the rest of the drive. About Danny. About her father leaving. About her mother’s abuse. About her sisters treating her as an outcast. All up until that fateful night next to the dryer vent. And finally leaving home and never looking back. Shayna doesn’t appear to listen. Raven rubs her eyes and tries to catch her breath as they pull up to the casino. Shayna walks Raven around the back to the talent entrance, gets her signed in for the show, and takes her to the locker room to change.

“Here,” says Shayna, returning not long before the match and handing Raven a slip of paper.

“What’s this?” Raven asks.

“It’s the full card for tonight. You’re opening in the dark match, but it may not hurt for you to watch how some of these other matches go for your own education. Depending of course on how your match goes.”

Raven looks over the names. “Raven... Roberts... how did you—“

“I’ve seen that little sketch you keep framed by your bed. Probably the one from your story, right? I assumed it was your chosen ring name.”

Raven, confused by emotion, lashes out. “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO—“

“I HAVE EVERY RIGHT!! YOU SLEEP IN THE SCHOOL!! YOU WASTE TIME DURING MY CLASSES!! YOU EAT BUDGETED FOOD!! YOU’RE TAKING A BED FROM A MORE DESERVING GIRL WHO ACTUALLY WANTS TO BE HERE!! YOU HAVE NOTHING!!” Shayna screams through frustration with the petulant child.

“Do you somehow think that if you become a wrestler that it will bring that boy back? It won’t. He’s gone, child. Gone. Accept it.” She looks into Raven’s eyes just in time to see something inside of her break. Raven charges her.

“RRRRRRAAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!!”

Shayna side steps and grabs Raven in a sleeper. “You may be tall but you still lack technique. You wanna hurt someone? Fine. Go hurt you opponent!” Shayna pushes Raven towards the door. Raven looks back at Shayna, murder in the young girl’s eyes. She runs for the curtain and warms up properly for her match, ready to release a mountain of fury.

On cue, Raven walks out to the ring full of fire. Shayna steps up to the curtain to watch as Raven’s opponent walks down to the ramp. “Why did you tell her that I gave her that gear?” Shayna turns back to see Vivian Marshall, walking from behind a corner.

“She needed it to be a nurturing gift. I don’t do nurturing,” responds Shayna. She smiles at her mentor before focusing on the match.

Raven bounces around in the ring, trying to stay loose. Ready for the bell so she can exorcise years of demons on the poor girl in the other corner. Finally the ref is set, he rings the bell. Raven charges the poor soul and...

———

Raven wakes up in the back of Shayna’s car with a splitting headache. She feels around and notes a bandage over her eye.

“whaa... what... What happened?” Raven said, groggy from pain.

Shayna chuckles. “You charged her, she hit you with a roundhouse kick, split your eye open, nailed you with a pile driver. One. Two. Three. Whole thing couldn’t have been more than fifteen seconds.”

Raven, distraught, sinks into her seat in the car. “So that’s it? I’m done? Just like that?”

Shayna doesn’t respond. Instead she pulls into the dojo parking lot and up to the front door. She looks back to face Raven. “You finally found motivation tonight. You were driven. You were intense. That’s what you need to survive. Whatever in your mind snapped, cling to it. Turning all that pain into fire is how you become successful. Go to bed. You’ve got class at 8:00 am.”

Raven looks back at her for a moment, confused. She nods, grabs her bag, and steps out of the car, still stumbling through fogginess in her head. She makes her way to the dorm and crawls in bed, wondering what everything tonight meant.

———

The next morning, Shayna walks into the gym, ready to begin as some of the students are still entering the building. She looks to the side and sees Raven, already sweaty from training since early morning, clearly more than she’d ever done before. She’s working the agility ladder, fresh bandages applied to her skull.

“Ok, ladies. Gather around. Time to warm up,” Shayna calls to the students. Raven comes and joins the class in a circle.

“Roberts...” Shayna says.

Raven looks up, still surprised to be called by that name. Shayna looks at her, hiding a hint of pride.

“I don’t care if you got your head split last night. No one slacks in my class. Understood?”
 

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