When you don’t speak the world is a
very different place
Robbed of speech and ignored, Leah exists on the margins. Then Patrick arrives
Bullied as a child by her siblings, Leah is so traumatised that she loses the power of speech.
Being mute has made her acutely observant, so years later she notices how her mother, Izzy becomes energized the moment the funeral of Leah’s father is over. She soon learns that Izzy is searching for the son she gave up for adoption.
Patrick is found and Izzy is delighted. He soon becomes a frequent visitor. Leah is so enthralled by Patrick that she changes her usual look of long cardigan over men’s trousers for a more appealing, womanly look. The change is not lost on Patrick who responds in a very non-brotherly way.
Leah runs away to the only friend she has and, after regaining the use of her voice, enlists his help in discovering the truth about her supposed half-brother.
Their search leads them to Leah’s estranged uncle and a run-in with the cult of the Living Saints.
Can Leah convince her mother that all is not as it appears with Patrick?
Can she and her family rescue their mother from the religious cult and escape Patrick once and for all?
Chris Bridge was born in Hull, UK in 1947. He studied English (and Philosophy) at Nottingham University. His career has been in teaching, eventually becoming Headteacher of Huntington School, York. In 2006 he was appointed a National Leader of Education.
Chris currently lives in North Yorkshire and can frequently be found working as a volunteer on the Operations Team for the Yorkshire Arboretum, where he is also a Trustee.
His first novel, Back Behind Enemy Lines was published by Peach Publishing in 2014. It has received considerable acclaim and was listed for the Historical Novel Society Indie Prize. It rose to be 7th in the Amazon Australian best seller list and 173rd in the UK list.
“A very haunting and moving story, there is an atmosphere which builds up so strong in the way this story is told.” – Nikki Bywater
In February 2017 his first collection of poetry, Walking Through, was published by Graft Publishing.
He is on time and alone. We are assembled. Tea is laid with an as yet untouched Christmas cake, iced and splendid at its centre point. The fire is lit and the lamps pool their light on carpets, on polished oak, on the decorations we have known all our lives. Then there is the Christmas tree itself with its myriad lights. It feels to me as if we are showing off and I am uneasy. Mightn’t he come in and think, I have missed out on all of this. But the wealth came about because of Gary. Indeed, Patrick had to be adopted. His father had to abandon my mother before any of us could be born. We children are therefore the beneficiaries of his adoption.
Izzy goes out to greet him. We wait. Glances are exchanged.
They come back arm in arm and Patrick looks different. I realise I never say his face close-to in the cafe. The wholesomeness is gone. His hair has grown and he has a couple of days of stubble. All this has the effect of making him look younger and trendier. No chinos and old man’s v-neck sweater today. He’s wearing jeans and a big off-white jumper that zips up to the neck. Both look new. The jumper has no bobbles.
Julia comes forward. “Welcome to the family,” she says, “I’m Julia. I always wanted a decent brother. My other two are such dead losses.”
How long has she worked on that line, I wonder. Then James is being introduced. He sweeps his hair to both sides before shaking hands.
Danny is sweating. The moisture beads on his brow. The room must be too hot for him. I know what he’ll do. He’ll test the firmness of his half-brother’s handshake. Patrick seems surprised, then responds. That seems to be that. But then I see Patrick walk over to Roz and say, “You must be Leah.”
“Roz, actually,” she says. “I’m with James.”
Patrick looks around and finally notices me. I do stay near to walls. From ingrained habit I am standing in the shadows. He comes towards me and I can see his eyes. They are kind. In spite of his recent tussle with Danny he holds my hand gently so I feel reassured. “Hello, Leah,” he says. “I’m Patrick and very pleased to meet you…”