Today I am giving a preview of the first of the six stories, "Touching Souls," the title suggested by a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. It is set on the island of Jersey, in the Spring of 2013.
Al Cohen and his wife Naomi are respected members of New York's Jewish community. Al's French mother, Sophie, was a Roman Catholic, but had little involvement with the church during his childhood. His father, Robert, on the other hand, served on the council of his local synagogue and, as a young man, Al himself embraced the religion of his father and most of his friends. Robert died in 2003 and, five years later, on her own deathbed, Sophie dropped a bombshell, telling Al that Robert Cohen was not his biological father. Some years later, Al is contacted by the half-sister he never knew he had, and it is questions about their shared heritage that bring them to Jersey in 2013. Al is naturally curious to know more, but nonetheless apprehensive about the dark secrets that may be revealed.
Saint Helier Harbour, Jersey. Photo: Man Vyi (image is in the Public Domain).
"Al looked out across the harbour mouth to the squat white lighthouse on the other side. The orange glow from the streetlights along the pier illuminated the harbour as if it were daylight, and gulls still flew around in the hope that someone might throw down the crust of a sandwich ... He sat down on the bench and took the letter from his pocket. Removing it from its envelope, he unfolded it, taking care not to damage the brittle yellowing paper, and scanned the French words. They must have been written right here, on the end of this pier ..."
Strangers on an island that none of them have visited before, Al, his half-sister and Naomi, are drawn to the ancient burial mound of La Hougue Bie, the place that, more than any other, links them, as individuals, to their shared inheritance.
La Hougue Bie, Jersey. Photo: Man Vyi (image is in the Public Domain).
A further visual preview of this story is available on Pinterest.
Mark Patton's novels, Undreamed Shores, An Accidental King and Omphalos, are published by Crooked Cat Publications, and can be purchased from Amazon UK or Amazon USA.