|Full name:||Risa Megan Ward|
|Age:||17 (as of UnWholly)|
Ex-AWOL Unwind; survived past 17
Ohio State Home 23(former)
Risa Megan Ward is Connor Lassiter's girlfriend. She was once a ward of the state of StaHo Ohio 23 before escaping and meeting Lev Calder and Connor. She later becomes the chief medic of the Graveyard.
A ward of the state since birth, Risa spent the first fifteen years of her life in State Home Ohio 23, trying to prove herself worthy of the life given to her and provided to by the state home. She chose music as her course of study, particularly classical piano, which she had been honing. Put under pressure, Risa had always been intent on being better than the other wards of the states. Mr. Durkin, her piano teacher for five years, is about the closest thing Risa has to a parent. He never puts Risa under any pressure and tries to assure her of her standing in the StaHo.
WORK IN PROGRESS.
During one of the recitals of the wards of the state, Risa performs a sonata by Chopin, which she does beautifully in the beginning. Then she becomes distracted after her first mistake, which soon leads to four more. On the verge of tears, she hopes that it wasn't noticed by the jury, but she knows that they have, just as much as she did. It would have been fine if any of the other kids' performances were less than stellar, but the others shined.
One week later, called into Headmaster Thomas' office, she is faced with a tribunal of three people there. One of them is the social worker assigned to Risa's "case," the other, the school's legal counsel or lawyer, Mr. Paulson. They tiptoe their way through before breaking the news to Risa. They say that since every Staho is obliged to take the unwanted babies that don't get storked, they have to make room for every new ward, which means cutting 5 percent of the teenage population, and that budget cuts impact on all State homes. Then they tell her she's reached her potential. Fed up, Risa comes straight out with it and both states and asks if she's being unwound. When Risa asks whether she has a choice in it or if she can change her course and be a boeuf, she is declined, saying that training to become an Army boeuf takes many years, especially for a girl. She is then escorted out by two guards.
She wasn't allowed to return to her dormitory, since, as an Unwind, there's nothing she needs. Some of her friends sneak down to the school's transportation center to bid her farewell, but, Mr. Durkin does not come, which hurts Risa most of all.
She sleeps in a guest room in the home's welcome center, then, at dawn, she's loaded onto a bus full of kids being transferred from the huge StaHo complex to other places. She recognizes some faces, but doesn't actually know any of her travel companions.
Twin Lakes Harvest Camp. It's a fine place. It's our facility of choice for all our Unwinds. In fact, my own nephew was unwound there. - Headmaster Thomas
Across the aisle, a fairly nice-looking boy—a military boeuf by the look of him—gives her a smile. "Hey," he says, flirting in a way only boeufs can.
"Hey," Risa says back.
"I'm being transferred to the state naval academy," he says. "How about
"Oh, me?" She quickly sifts through the air for something impressive. "Miss
Marple's Academy for the Highly Gifted."
"She's lying," says a scrawny, pale boy sitting on Risa's other side. "She's an
Suddenly the boeuf boy leans away, as if unwinding is contagious. "Oh," he
says. "Well. . . uh . . . that's too bad. See ya!" And he leaves to sit with some other
boeufs in the back.
"Thanks," snaps Risa at the scrawny kid.
The kid just shrugs. "It doesn't matter, anyway." Then he holds out his hand
to shake. "I'm Samson," he says. "I'm an Unwind too."
Risa almost laughs. Samson. Such a strong name for such a mealy boy. She
doesn't shake his hand, still annoyed at having been exposed to the handsome
"So, what did you do to get yourself unwound?" Risa asks.
"It's not what I did, it's what I didn't do."
"What didn't you do?"
"Anything," Samson answers.
It makes sense to Risa. Not doing anything is an easy path to unwinding.
"I was never going to amount to much anyway," Samson says, "but now,
statistically speaking, there's a better chance that some part of me will go on to
greatness somewhere in the world. I'd rather be partly great than entirely
The fact that his twisted logic almost makes sense just makes her angrier.
"Hope you enjoy harvest camp, Samson." Then she leaves to find another seat.
"Please sit down!" calls the chaperone from the front, but no one's listening
to her. The bus is full of kids moving from seat to seat, trying to find kindred
spirits or trying to escape them. Risa finds herself a window seat, with no one
This bus trip will be only the first leg of her journey. They explained to her—
to all the kids after they boarded the bus— that they would first be taken to a
central transportation center, where kids from dozens of state homes would be
sorted onto buses that would take them to wherever they were going. Risa's next
bus would be a bus full of Samsons. Wonderful. She had already considered the
possibility of sneaking onto another bus, but the bar codes on their waistbands
make that an impossibility. It's all perfectly organized, and foolproof. Still, Risa
occupies her mind with all the scenarios that could lead to escape.
That's when she sees the commotion out of her window. It's farther up the
road. Squad cars are on the other side of the freeway, and as the bus changes
lanes, she sees two figures in the road: two kids racing across traffic. One kid has
the other in a chokehold and is practically dragging him. And both of them have
run right in front of the bus.
Risa's head is slammed against the window as the bus suddenly pulls to the
right to avoid the two kids. The bus fills with gasps and screams, and Risa is
thrown forward, down the aisle, as the bus comes to a sudden, jarring stop. Her
hip is hurt, but not bad. It's just a bruise. She gets up, quickly taking stock of the
situation. The bus leans sideways. It's off the road, in a ditch. The windshield is
smashed, and it's covered with blood. Lots of it.
Kids around her all check themselves. Like her, no one is badly hurt,
although some are making more of a fuss than others. The chaperone tries to
calm down one girl who's hysterical.
And in this chaos, Risa has a sudden realization.
This is not part of the plan.
The system might have a million contingencies for state wards trying to
screw with things, but they don't have a plan of action for dealing with an
accident. For the next few seconds, all bets are off.
Risa fixes her eyes on the front door of the bus, holds her breath, and races
toward that door.
|“||Risa's pretty. Not in the way Ariana was pretty—in a better way. . . Risa has a natural kind of beauty.||”|
She has brown hair. She was described by Connor as pretty, possessing a natural kind of beauty.
Growing up as a state of the ward, she had always ben under the pressure to be great in her field, which was music in her state home. She was a wonderful pianist but always noticed even the smallest mistakes she made. She was also shown to be very streetwise while she was on the run with Connor and Lev. She is also good at taking care of children since she was sometimes assigned to nurseries in the state home.
Without realizing it, though, she had also become quite good with several other things noted by others around her, such as her survival and medical skills. After staying in the Graveyard as a medic, she realized she wanted to go down that road and be a doctor someday, if she survived past 18.
She strongly opposes Unwinding, to the point that she refused to undergo a transplant to replace her shattered spine with an Unwind's, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Eventually, though, she is forced to undergo the treatment and finds guilty pleasure in being able to walk again.
Her name "Risa" may be derived from the Spanish word "sonrisa" which means smile, as stated by a Hispanic kid Risa once met.
Being a ward of the state, she shares the surname "Ward" with other wards of the state.