Throw Back Thursday: The Face In The Window; by Cheryl Headford

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The Face In The Window

There are those who can’t see, and those who don’t see, but we are all blind sometimes.

The Face in the Window is a story of two very different boys, trying to find their way and bring together two worlds that are as different as night and day.

Ace’s world is dark. Born blind, he’s learned to open his eyes in a different way and from the very start he is a stabilizing and calming influence on Haze.

Haze’s world is lonely, filled with the crushing pain of a long past event and the crippling fear of the uncontrollable outbursts of rage it left in its wake.

Ace struggles with a brother who is intent on making his life miserable in every way, and Haze struggles to control the rage that threatens whenever he does so.

Gradually, they learn about each other’s world and, as the two are brought together the boys head toward an explosive climax when they meet.

Let’s hear what the boys have to say in their own words about the journey that led from the first glimpse of the face in the window to the traumatic events that very nearly part them forever.

Me: So, Ace, how do you do that thing where you turn to someone and look into their face? How do you know where their face is when you can’t see it?

Ace: I don’t know, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. I suppose, it’s something to do with how they sound. I can’t do it if I can’t hear them. When someone speaks, I orient on their voice and look where I think the voice comes from. I picture the person’s face, if I know what they look like, otherwise it’s just looking into the dark like usual.

Me: How can you know what someone looks like?

Ace: I see them through my fingers. If I touch your face I create a picture in my mind of what your face looks like and then I always see that picture when I hear your voice.

Haze: It’s truly amazing. He doesn’t think it’s anything special, but it’s almost uncanny how close he can get. He has amazing ears. He’s very particular about where we sit in a cinema or in his room, so we get to the best place possible to hear the sound. It all seems the same to me.

Ace: You’re a philistine when it comes to music anyway. The rubbish you like does sound the same wherever you sit. I’m going to give you an appreciation of the depth and nuances of classical music if it kills you.

Haze: They teach you a load of crap at that school.

Ace: They teach me how to kick your ass.

Haze: You wish.

Ace: Don’t make me have to do it again, here and now.

Haze: You wouldn’t want to destroy the image of sweet little angel would you?

Ace: That’s not the image I’ve ever had of myself. I’m quite happy for it to be destroyed. On your feet and prepare for a good old fashioned ass kicking

Haze: Easy ninja. Trust me, this is not the place for that kind of shenanigans

Ace: Okay, but you know I could, right?

Haze: You can do anything.

Ace: When you are with me I can.

Me: Alright, guys, enough of the smooshy stuff. We get that Ace is pretty amazing, but I’ve been hearing good things about you too, Haze.

Haze: There’s nothing amazing about me.

Ace: Yes, there is. You saved me.

Haze: No I didn’t. You saved me

Ace: We saved each other.

Haze: No, seriously, you saved me. If you hadn’t recognised the sound of the waterfall I might never have been found and I was in no shape to get out of there on my own. I’d likely be dead.

Ace: No. You’d have found me if I hadn’t found you. I know it.

Me: You sound so certain.

Ace: I am. We were meant to be together and that’s it.

Haze: Ace sees the world in very simple terms. It’s all black and white to him.

Ace: Actually, it’s all black. I’ve never really got my head round colours. I’ve never seen them, after all. I think in pictures but I don’t think they’re pictures you’d recognise.

Me: That’s very interesting. I didn’t think about colours, or rather not being able to see them. I can’t imagine a world without colour.

Ace: I can’t imagine a world with colour. I see shapes and patterns, sometimes shadows and light.

Me: You see patterns?

Ace: Yes. Actually, I see sounds. Mostly sharp sounds. When I listen to music I see a lot.

Me: That’s fascinating. What does sound look like?

Ace: Depends on the sounds. Sharp sounds usually look sharp. Sweet sounds, softer, like bubbles or whorls. Sudden loud noises kind of explode out of the middle and sometimes loud and sharp make black and white squares.

Haze: He can be really weird sometimes.

Ace: So can you.

Me: I hear you’re going to university next year. Have you enrolled at the same one?

Ace: Yes. It took some organisation but we got there in the end. My mother wanted me to go to the same university as my brother, Nick, so he could keep an eye on me, but they didn’t do the courses we both wanted, so it took some investigation and discussion. The university we’re going to has amazing facilities for blind students.

Haze: When we went to look around, they assigned Ace a girl who’s just like him, except not as beautiful, of course. *At this point Ace smiles coyly and snuggles up to him. It’s so cute* She’s in her third year and is absolutely amazing. She’s so bubbly and brilliant. She showed us around and had Ace using all kinds of hi tech stuff I couldn’t begin to understand. The blind students have so much going on I don’t know when he’ll find time to spend with me.

Ace: I’ll always find time to spend with you. Besides…. We’re going to be living together.

Okay, that look needs censoring, so I think this might be a good place to draw the interview to a conclusion.

I can tell you two are going to do just fine. Maybe one day you’ll come back and let us know how university works out for you. Somehow, I know you’ll have plenty of adventures to recount.

If you would like to read more of Ace and Haze’s story, you can find it here at Featherweight Press


The_Face_in_the_Window_Front_Cover_7_11_2013Ace is blind and Haze is damaged. They live in different worlds and not everyone is happy when they become boyfriends. Haze is struggling with the after effects of a traumatic event in his past that has left him at the mercy of an uncontrollable rage. When Ace’s brother steps up his campaign of torment against Ace, they’re all in danger from Haze’s outbursts, though it isn’t until things get completely out of control that the healing can really begin. But with Ace unseeing and Haze perched on the edge of a cliff, will either of them survive long enough to benefit?

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Excerpt One – Meeting Ace

I will never forget the first time I saw Ace Richmond, not as long as I live and probably beyond. He was sitting at the kitchen table, the chair pushed back and his long legs crossed at the ankle under the table. There was a plate of sandwiches in front of him and he was eating an apple. I saw none of that.

To say that I had ‘seen’ him through the window would have been like saying that I had seen the reflection of the moon on the surface of a still lake or the sun setting into the sea. Beautiful but only a pale shadow of the real thing.

Today he was wearing an acid green t-shirt with a pink elephant on the front that was somewhat jarring on the eyes, especially matched with the lurid pink tartan trousers and the large jewel encrusted sunglasses that were completely out of place. I had to blink twice to fully take them in. However, if his clothing was something of a shock it was nothing compared to the rest of him.

He had appeared slender and ephemeral from my standpoint below, thin and pale. Up close he was far more substantial. He was not so slender at all, although there was a certain grace in the way he was lounging in the chair that made him seem more willowy than he was.

He was pale; his skin almost translucent, like the white hair that cascaded over his shoulders and obscured half of his face. He was gorgeous too; far better looking than I had observed or imagined, but not in the fragile, fey way that I had thought. He was very substantial indeed. Weird in the clothing sense but lovely and…real.

Excerpt Two – Ninja

We had lunch in the same restaurant that we had the first time, and Nick was suitably impressed. Ace enthused about the menus, the food, how nice the waitresses were, and Nick watched him with a slightly bemused expression on his face.

That was nothing though to the expression he wore when we went down onto the beach and I had Ace doing cartwheels again.

“Bloody hell,” he murmured under his breath as we watched Ace’s wild abandon. I don’t think he was physically able to say any more. Ace literally took his breath away.

“He’s full of surprises, isn’t he?”

Nick nodded, unable to take his eyes away from his brother.

Eventually Ace stopped and stood still, turning his face to the sea breeze, and simply waited, quietly.

“What’s he doing now?”


“Waiting for what?”

I couldn’t help a giggle. “For us, of course. He has no idea where he is now.”

“Oh. I…I didn’t think. He must trust you a lot; just to stand and wait and not be scared.”

“Ace is never scared. He’s the bravest person I know.”

We were walking by then, and Nick fell silent. We hadn’t quite got to Ace when he said, “I wish I could see the sea.” There wasn’t any sadness in his voice, just a hint of wistfulness. “It feels so…big and wild.”

“It is.” I slipped my arm around his waist, and he rested his head on my shoulder.

“Mister… Mister…” At the sound of the breathless but excited voices, we turned and I saw two boys, about eleven years old, racing across the beach toward us.

“That was awesome,” one of them gasped as they skidded to a halt.

“Can you do it again? Can you teach us?”

“How did you do it? Are you an acrobat?”

“Or a ninja?”

Ace laughed and shook his head; he frowned thoughtfully. “I don’t know how I do it, not really. It just feels…right. I don’t know if I could teach anyone, because I don’t know what I do myself.”

“Aww, but we really want to learn.” His voice was so earnest that Nick and I exchanged glances and stifled giggles.

“Please, Mister, just tell us what you do.”

“I just… You need to find something inside that really wants to come out, that needs to be free, and then you just throw yourself at it and it takes you over.

“I learned how to trust my body and the space around me at school. We do a lot of martial arts and most of the flipping and stuff are just part of the moves.”

One of the boys turned to the other and said, “See? I told you he was a ninja.”

“Ninjas,” said the other one, “wear black and don’t look like that. He’s all white with funny eyes.” His eyes widened, and his face got an excited expression. “Maybe he’s from one of those secret organisations, like the White Dragons or something, like we saw in that film. Maybe he’s an assassin.”

“WOW, Mister. Are you really? Are you? Are you a secret assassin?”

The other boy hit him in the shoulder so hard he almost fell over. “If it’s a secret, he’s not going to tell you about it, is he?”

“Oh. Sorry, Mister.” He was subdued for a moment, with downcast eyes, scuffing the sand. Then he brightened up and with a sly expression on his face. “But are you? Are you really? I mean you can trust us, because we’re only kids so you know we’re not like…like from a rival gang or something.”

His friend rolled his eyes and sighed. “Sorry. He’s a bit thick. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.” Ace was grinning as the boy dragged his friend away.

“Hehe, one day I’m an angel and the next a secret ninja assassin. Nice. I wonder what I’ll be tomorrow.”

I hugged him close. “Mine,” I said, and he giggled.


images (1)Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.

In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.

Find Cheryl: For Nephy’s World for Rainbow Warriors which is my new YA blog

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