Title- Silent Echo: A Siren’s Tale
Series- Silent Echo Trilogy # 1
By- Elisa Freilich
Publication Date- September 2013
Published By- Diversion Books
Genre- YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Silence was Portia Griffin’s nemesis. In a world where teens never cease to speak their minds, the sixteen year old Portia, rendered mysteriously mute at birth, has opted out of the mainstream conversation. Instead, this silent sophomore at Ridgewood Preparatory Academy finds solace in her keen love of music and bizarre obsession with birds. And it doesn’t hurt that her best friend, Felix Fein, deaf at the age of eight, couldn’t care less whether or not she is able to execute the spoken word.
But Portia’s world is about to change – and not necessarily for the better.
After sixteen silent years, Portia is suddenly gifted with a voice unparalleled in its purity and powers. Her new ability to persuade, to seduce and to destroy with her voice alone sends Portia on a search for answers she never imagined she’d have to accept.
Read an excerpt:
The fluttering of the birds’ wings against the windshield produced a steady noise not unlike the whirring of a fan.
He looked over at the pained face of his wife. She was at the peak of labor, her contractions only two minutes apart. Her water had broken several hours ago, and despite his demands to leave immediately for the hospital, Helena had insisted on waiting it out, determined to relish the birth of their first child in the comfort of their own home.
Joshua had only conceded knowing that in Ridgewood there wasn’t likely to be much traffic. Their worst delay might be having to wave to a familiar pedestrian.
But this roadblock could never have been foreseen. They were everywhere — the feathers, the flapping wings. When the first one had landed, a snowy white creature with clouded jade eyes, he had thought nothing of it. Swerving gently, Joshua was surprised that the bird held its ground, welcoming its identical twin, who swooped down and landed firmly on the hood of the car.
And then an avalanche.
Identical white birds streaming down in droves, their verdigris eyes boring curiously beyond the windshield.
She cried out in pain.
“Please,” she pleaded with her husband — her voice was barely above a whisper. “Please get me some help.”
Joshua looked over at his wife. Her milky complexion, now blue as a flame, had taken on an unnatural translucence, revealing the frenetic pumping of blood through her veins.
But trapped inside the chrysalis of feathers and beak, there was no way to maneuver the car forward. Or in any direction, for that matter.
“I’m so sorry, baby, I can’t see a thing…”
He tried prompting the flock to leave with a few angry bursts of the horn. But the sound only propelled the beating of their wings. And with each new unwelcome visitor, a sterile Labor and Delivery room became a fantasy reserved for another universe. Dialing 911, Joshua tried maintaining his composure. He could sense the operator’s skepticism until Helena let out a fortuitous moan, lending an undeniable truth to his tale. He tried pinpointing their location. Where were they anyway?
While he attempted to gain his bearings, Helena became entranced by the thumping of the giant wings. The percussion was a sponge, soaking up her anxiety at being trapped. The vibration of the wings made its way down her spine, relieving the immense pressure in her belly.
With a burst of sudden clarity Helena knew that this was going to be the birthplace of her child. Right here, on Thornton Road. There would be no hospital and no Dr. Schein. Joshua would have to deliver this baby and she felt it coming. Fast.
The birds continued to flock to the car, forming a layer three deep. Nestling their heads into one another, they hastened the rhythm of their wings, their movements in perfect unison. She stared them down and, as they returned her gaze, the balloon that was her swollen body was untied, her pain released in a slow and steady stream, replaced by an utter sense of calm.
There were only the birds now.
Never mind the fruitless attempts of her husband to open the car door against the impenetrable suction. No recognition of his own panic, his own understanding that if she didn’t make it through this, there would be no tomorrow for either one of them.
And still, the birds remained.
The creatures lifted their heads up, one by one, revealing their aged green eyes. Helena basked in the comfort of the winged voyeurs, grateful for the way they had reversed the current of her pain.
“It’s coming,” she whispered to Joshua.
Joshua surrendered any vestiges of calm to which he had been clinging, his face a mosaic of horror and shock.
“What? You mean now?”
And before Helena could even answer, the child emerged. Joshua caught the tiny creature in the bath towel they had grabbed as an afterthought just before leaving the house.
“Oh my god, Helena, it’s a girl!” His voice trembled, unable to find solid ground. “She seems perfect! Oh my god—“
Helena looked down at the child. She was perfect. A small silken tuft of brown hair sat like a crown atop her delicate skull. Her fingers were long and graceful, tiny papery nails topping each one. Her lips were full, forming a perfect ruby heart.
Joshua started wiping the child clean, offering his wife words of endearment and praying that the paramedics would arrive soon. But his words floated away like particles of dust. There was no room for them in the air that had become filled with the cries of the newborn.
The thumping of the birds’ wings began to fade, offering center stage to the cries of the baby. Gradually, one by one, they flew away forming a perfect arrow as they soared into the dusky sky.
When the last one was gone, the baby’s cries became a tornado sucking away all other sounds and sights. The storm of the infant’s tears held within it a somnolent melody, every sob the next movement in the tearful symphony.
Joshua and Helena struggled to keep their eyes open despite the deep sleep that was suddenly beckoning them. The sounds of the child were a quicksand. And they were being pulled under.
Just as they were about to be submerged completely, the arrival of the paramedics jolted Helena, awakening her maternal instincts. She drew her new daughter to her breast, amazed at her ability to nourish the child from her own body. The baby fell silent as she began to suckle, breaking the dreamy spell that had been wielded by her tears.
Sleepily, Helena ran a gentle fingertip over the velvety cheeks of her new daughter. They would call her Portia, just like they had talked about.
“I will never grow tired of hearing your voice, little Portia,” whispered the proud mother to her new daughter.
She could never have known then that for the next sixteen years the child would not make another sound.
Elisa Freilich has enjoyed a love affair with language from her earliest days. Raised in rural Monsey, New York, Elisa spent her days reading whatever crossed her path and developing a keen appreciation for the ever-present music in her home – from classical to rock. French lessons and creative writing workshops complemented her adolescence, which was also greatly enhanced by a summer spent abroad at Cambridge University. From the time she could read and write, Elisa could often be found composing poems, song lyrics and satirical newspapers.
After her college years at Boston University, Elisa continued her creative pursuits, working as a junior VP of Marketing at a corporate graphic design agency and, later, as an interior decorator. Eventually, Elisa left the workforce to raise her family, in her now hometown of Englewood, NJ.
Throughout the years, Elisa has retained her devotion to all genres of books and music and was determined to synthesize her passions into one refreshing and original platform. The result is her debut novel, SILENT ECHO: A Siren’s Tale, which will be published by Diversion Books in Summer 2013. With her own lyrical style, Elisa has created a world that young adults around the globe will find intensely gripping and refreshingly original.
When Elisa is not writing, her creative outlets still abound. She is fierce with a set of knitting needles, a hot glue gun and any ingredients that can somehow be fashioned into a sinful and highly caloric babka.