#ExcerptWeek – Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow

51CLk1CvWvL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)living in the shadows

Chapter 27: Victoria

Thursday 25th September

Victoria was lonely. It was a week since she’d arrived and she hadn’t made any friends yet. She sensed most of the women resented her. Probably because she was Seth’s favourite, she told herself, pushing away the memory of two days ago.

She hadn’t seen him to speak to since then.

She thought it would be so different being in a commune; that she’d belong; be accepted for herself. Not as Richard’s stroppy sister, or her parents’ difficult daughter, which she knew was how they thought of her, but as one of the community here; as Seth’s girlfriend. It wasn’t turning out like that; not yet anyway. Two of the girls in the dorm had already complained about the amount of time she spent on herself instead of her taking on a share of the work. Well, stuff them, they could get lost. She had no intention of looking as grungy as they did. Any more than she was going to learn how to do the stupid knitting Jasmine had insisted she tried. She reckoned if she kept on dropping stitches Jasmine would give up on her. As for using that makeshift cooking range… Victoria shut out the humiliating scene. That woman, Chrystal, hadn’t needed to be so nasty, how was she to know she was supposed to check there was enough wood to keep the fire going underneath? Wasn’t that a job for the men? The tears came easily.

She breathed on the window and rubbed a circle in the grime on the glass with her finger. Peering out, she shivered. She hated it here.

She hated the rusted fence, just yards from the building she was in, and beyond it the expanse of wasteland. Hated the ugly skeletons of old buildings, mapped out on the ground by foundation stones, covered in pink weeds and coarse grass. Hated the spindly-looking shrubs growing from the collapsed ruins of the old mill. She especially hated the large corroded metal sheets that had replaced a part of an old fence, blocking off any view of the road beyond. By twisting her head she could just about see the large gates, padlocked together and leaning lopsidedly against two brick pillars. Like a bloody prison, she thought.

The excitement she’d felt last Wednesday as they drove away from the boring little village in Wales had gone. She’d replaced one stifling place for another.

If only they hadn’t walked by the canal that day.

She flopped down on her mattress and looked down the long room that was allocated to the single women in the commune. There was no one else around but they’d left their smells behind. She crinkled her nose against the smell…no, the stench, she thought the stench of sweat, of unwashed hair. Body odours. She pulled at the thin, horrid sheet of material that divided her mattress from the next. It didn’t reach far enough for her; she’d have liked to shut everybody out completely. The ‘so called’ curtains separating the twelve narrow mattresses weren’t enough to give Victoria the privacy she’d been used to.  But they were enough to make her feel cut off from the other girls when they chatted at night.

That was how she knew that Seth held the daily meditations that she hadn’t been allowed to go yet. All he’d said on the second day she was in the commune was, ‘I’ll know when you’re ready to join in.’

She listened to their discussions, jealous of their time spent with him, envious whenever one of them had been singled out for group contemplation. Wanting to feel part of what they shared. To learn how to find that spiritual peace she’d been unable to find. That Seth had promised her that day, way back in the summer.


judith headshot

Although I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, for the last forty years, I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place.
I’ve written all my life and have had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. But only started to seriously write novels after I’d had breast cancer twenty years ago.  Four novels safely stashed away, never to see the light of day again, I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. I’m now writing the prequel. Hopefully then the  family in this series will leave me alone to explore something else!
I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing.  I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run workshops on all genres.
I also organise the Tenby Book Fair in September and, at the moment, am interviewing all the authors who will be appearing there on my website http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk.

When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m doing research for my writing, walking the Pembrokeshire countryside or reading and reviewing I review books for Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT, along with some other brilliant authors and bloggers.

My Books:

Pattern of Shadows:
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/pattern-of-shadows
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1Riznh1 

Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com

Changing Patterns:
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/changing-patterns
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1U1XmYD

Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com 

 Living in the Shadows:
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/living-in-the-shadows-1
Barnes &Noble: http://bit.ly/1pHmeIh


#ExcerptWeek Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow



Chapter 56: Victoria

Sun 12th October

Victoria watched Melody being systematically ostracised by the rest of the group. No one spoke to her. They whispered about her and, when she approached or came close to any of them, they turned their backs on her. But, wherever she went, one of them followed her.

Victoria didn’t understand why they wouldn’t let her just leave.

‘She’s not allowed to go until the Master says she can,’ Amber explained. ‘He talks to her at night.’

‘At night?’

‘All night. He’s trying to make her understand how she won’t fit in on the outside anymore.’

He’s brainwashing her, Victoria thought, horrified. He’s trying to break her spirit. It made her stomach twist inside her.

Despite all her efforts to avoid any of the groups, all of them had tried to involve Victoria in the exclusion.

 ‘You can’t sit on the side-lines, Summer, it’s too dangerous,’ Amber said, while they were sitting around the table at suppertime.

‘What do you mean?’

‘She means we are a family, Summer.’ Chrystal stood behind them. We all rely on each other; for our food, our clothing and,’ she spread out her arms and looked around the dining room, ‘our shelter.’

‘It doesn’t seem fair, Chrystal. When you take our meditation sessions, you preach good vibes.’ Victoria deliberately said the word; she thought back to the last time the woman had gathered them together; yeah, ‘preach’ was definitely the right way to put it.

 Still she made her face impassive when she saw Chrystal bristle.

Victoria looked across at Melody. Sitting on her own at a table that she’d been led to the day after her outburst, she was upright, arms folded. The meagre amount of food on the plate in front of her was ignored.

‘She is backsliding into temptation. There is nothing we can do for her now, Summer. It is up to the Master.’ Chrystal put her hand on Victoria’s shoulder. She felt the clench of her stomach muscles, tried to shut out the drone of Chrystal’s voice. ‘If she goes she will leave without his blessing. She is rebellious, disobedient. A castaway.’ Now she was leading Victoria towards the door and it was as though there was nothing for it but to go. ‘We have been watching your struggle over the past few days. We see your compassion for Melody. But it is misplaced.’ She leaned towards Victoria, her voice soft. ‘You need to decide where you loyalties are. With her, or with us, with our Master. He needs to know, Summer.’

Victoria glanced over to the top table where Seth sat alone. He was watching her.

Amazon. co.uk:
 Living in the Shadows

Living in the Shadows

Amazon.co. au:
Living in the Shadows

Living in the Shadows