Raven, A Portrait

She's completely esoteric in her presentation to the world.

She's completely young, compared to most people here, though Justin was sure once that she was in her twenties. Sure that she wears strange hats, and talks as though she's completely disinterested in her own words.

She likes to wear flashy plastic jewelry - dozens of bracelets - concoctions and combinations that look like a kid made them once. Around her neck she wears a beaded chocker with the word SALAD written across her trachea with huge black block lettered beads.

I asked her why once, because I honestly wanted to know the significance, but she just said: 'Why not?'

The word SALAD reminds me of the Muslim Turkish warrior Saladin, and I tell Raven stories about the Crusades. She's never heard of him, but she does tell me that when she was younger she was made fun of because of her name. The kids would say: 'That's sooo Raven!' Like the TV show with the obnoxious actress Raven Symone.

The other day she called my name and I looked up quickly, hearing the distress in her voice. She sat at first, then stood. She cries so silently it set me on edge. I've never heard a girl sob so uneventfully. She tells me about the man she has just spoken with, how he chided her brazen forthrightness, saying something like: "Can you do that? Huh, can you do that?" in a tone that must have frightened her.

I know that she loves Kit-Kat bars so I smuggle one from room to room and bring it to her.

She asks me often if she's going to be happy. I tell her that it's too early for me to gauge her level of happiness. Everyone else usually laughs at that.