“The Earthquake Bird”*

*2001 novel by Susanna Jones.

From Chapter Three:

“….Three silent, blissful years passed. Then she won the county junior chess contest.

The local newspaper had prepared a piece about Lucy the Tragic Mute Genius. There is one thing above all that Lucy has never been able to tolerate and that is presumption about Lucy. So complacent, so unquestioning, they wrote their fantasy about her loneliness, her reach for chess as a desperate last hope of communication with the world. Lucy had taken up chess precisely because there was no need to speak. Check can be communicated with the eyes and eyebrows. If some pedant insists on the use of the word, it can be written on the back of the hand. So at the prize-giving ceremony she opened her mouth and spoke clearly but casually into the microphone, “Thanks,” as if she had been speaking every day. Checkmate. Except that she had only cornered herself. Once she had spoken again, it was impossible to rediscover the silence.”

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