Chapter One



Silence was all she knew.

Amy had been profoundly deaf since birth, and had no comprehension of the world of sound. At the age of 24 she had given up using her hearing aids as she was sure they no longer made any difference. Despite the obvious challenges she faced on a day to day she did not especially mind being deaf. How could you miss something you never had? No everything was fine, she was happy.

Of course she was.

Currently, however, there was a rather annoying inconvenience threatening her whole comfortable existence. The dishwasher in her flat had broken and the repair technician was not due until tomorrow. She sat at her breakfast bar torn between carrying on with her book or tackling the mounting pile of dishes with the classic sink and hands method.

Her cat, Thomas, stalked the kitchen worktops and seemed to turn his nose up at the abandoned crockery, sneering almost at Amy. She sneered back but, with a frustrated sigh, she resigned herself to washing up the old fashioned way. If she did not do it soon the kitchen would soon be overwhelmed with dirty bowls and utensils; and Thomas would probably move out. Although, perhaps that was not such a bad thing. They had never exactly seen eye to eye ever since she had been lumbered with him.

Thomas seemed pleased, however, when she started filling up the washing up bowl and purred pleasantly to himself as he languidly stretched out where a large mixing bowl had been. She eyed the fat grey cat suspiciously; he seemed in far too good a mood for her liking. Normally he would have not even seen fit to grace her with his presence, except at feeding time. He must be up to something, she thought, but turned her attention back to the mounting dishes and running water.

The problem was not so much that she did not wash up often enough, but rather that she loved to bake. She baked daily; in fact, baking was how she made her living. She made celebration cakes for just about any occasion but mostly for weddings. She enjoyed creating something out of people ideas, and giving them something they loved as the end product. She had built up a good reputation in North London where she lived, and was not short of clients wanting her cakes. She shared a small commercial kitchen with another baker down the road, but her flat was where she did all her experimenting.

She had made it halfway through the washing up when her doorbell rang. The spotlights installed in each of the rooms of her flat flashed brightly informing her that someone was at the door. Drying off her hands, she headed to the door checking the spy hole before opening it up.

"I am early, I know." Chris smiled gently as he signed.

Amy just nodded in response and gestured to the teacloth in her hand whilst beckoning him in.

"Still not got the dishwasher fixed?" Chris' sign language was the best of any hearing person she knew. Chris's wife was deaf so had obviously been teaching him since they had met.

Amy shook her head in response to the question. "Well you know how fond I am of washing up."

"I will wait until you are ready okay. I am in no rush." Chris sat down on the couch in the living room and began to fiddle with the remote control for the television. Thomas deposited himself with a thud on Chris' lap and was rewarded with a tickle behind his ear.

"Thank you." Amy returned to the kitchen and threw the teacloth down on the side and hunted for her shopping list. Chris came every Saturday morning to give her a lift to the wholesalers across town. With the amount she bought there for her cakes it made it impossible to take public transport, she had become reliant on the favour. She had met Chris' wife through the local deaf club which she used to attend.

She had recently thought about returning to the deaf club but always thought better of it in the end. They were awful gossips there, and Chris and his wife Katie were about the only two she could still bear.

She grabbed her coat and shoes and joined Chris on the sofa whilst doing up the laces on her trainers. He turned to face her before signing. "Katie said you are not able to come to our party next week."

Amy wondered how long it would it before he brought that up. "Sorry, I am busy."

"Doing what?"

"I have got a wedding the next day. I will need to get the cake finished and boxed up."

"Surely that does not take all night."

Amy shrugged knowing that Chris was not about to let it drop.

"When was the last time you hung out with your friends huh?!" The gestures of his signing became stiffer to show his frustration.

"I am really busy okay," Amy stood and pulled on her coat.

"Well if you are not going to answer I can tell you. It was about four years ago!" His hands moved rapidly.

"I know what you are going to say. Please just drop it so we can go shopping."

"Fine fine, I will drop it, but only if you agree to come. At least show your face."

She folded her arms over her chest in defiance but could not hold out for long. "Katie put you up to this didn't she?" When Chris just smiled in response she had no choice but relent. "I will come, just for a bit."

Chris smiled. "Let's go then."

Just as Amy was shutting the door Thomas slunk out and meowed her loudly as if telling her off for attempting to lock him in. She sighed at him but decided if he wanted to run riot on the streets of London then so be it. Chris and she were halfway down the steps from her first floor flat when Thomas decided to weave his way between her legs. The movement threw her off balance, which being deaf was not that great anyway, and she pitched forward. She held her breath certain she was about to land square on her face and break her neck when she felt Chris grab hold of her round the waist.

"That was close!" He signed after getting her back on her two feet. "That cat of yours is a pain in the ass. I don't know why you keep him!" He did know why she kept him but kept his smile plastered on his face.

Thomas merely hissed at them both and sat squarely in the centre of the stairwell bringing up a paw to lick at it nonchalantly.

Amy managed to sign once she had composed herself and the sick feeling that had risen in her stomach subsided. "That cat will be the death of me."

The journey to the wholesalers went by quickly, however the journey back was slow and anything but silent for Chris who had Radio One blaring and was punctuating the music with colourful language in response to central London traffic at the weekend. Amy could not help but grin as she lip read the less than favourable words spilling from his mouth. Her hand on the seat could feel every beat of the song emptying from the speakers and for a second she imagined what it would be like to have sound fill your head.

Her thoughts turned back to their conversation. She had no doubt that Katie had put him up to it. Her friend had made no secret of her frustration over the last year. What did it matter if she did not want to go to parties anymore?! Everything was fine, she was fine. Why wouldn't people accept that?

Amy placed her hand firmly on the seat to concentrate of the beat of the music. She stared at the vibrations visible through her fingers and in her silent world never saw it coming.

The van hit her side of the car sending them sideways into the bus next to them. The force of the second impact sent her head flying to her left and as it connected with the glass of the passenger window her vision went dark.