The Prodigals follows the lives of four troubled young men in Manchester - Brian, Howard, Declan and the novel's anti-hero, Travis McGuiggan. It's a book about friendship, religion, drinking, cruelty and love. It's also a book about leaving home and returning.
For more about the author and his work, please visit his website.
Declan lived across the road from the driving test centre. He kept the curtains closed because he didn’t like the idea of people looking in, but every day he’d slide them open a fraction so he could sit and watch the action on the other side of the street.
He saw people in tears being comforted by their instructors, or pouring their hearts out into mobile phones. He saw people jumping for joy, kissing the examiners full on the lips, or performing impromptu dance routines to the amusement of passers by.
He was comforted by the fact that no two celebrations were the same. Every tearful phone call displayed some tiny idiosyncrasy.
Declan lived in an old Victorian house divided into bedsits. His room was about the same size as the bedroom he’d had as a child, but it suited his needs. He imagined in the olden days, this would have been the servant’s quarters.
The street was lined with trees, and at first glance, this could’ve been mistaken for an affluent area. Maybe it was, once.
There were three plants on his windowsill – a yucca, and a pair of cacti. Declan didn’t see his plants very often, as they were on the other side of the curtains. He watered them once a week, and sometimes, at six in the morning, he’d open the curtains to take a look. There wasn’t usually anyone around at six in the morning, so he was safe for a while.
Declan slept in on this particular morning. He had nothing to do, and took some pleasure in not having to get up early. He’d finished his A-levels a few weeks previously, and had slept in every morning since then.
He pulled himself up and climbed into his dressing gown. He filled the kettle, and washed yesterday’s cup. He let the teabag brew while he shaved. Declan shaved every morning, whether he needed to or not. It gave him something to do while his tea was brewing. He had a shaving mirror hanging over the kitchenette sink, which over time had become flecked with dirt from the washing up water. He preferred not to clean it because the thin film of grime helped to dim his reflection.
He kept one eye on the teabag as he scraped the white foam from his skin. He liked watching the tiny jets of brown polluting the clear water. He wiped his face and hands on a kitchen towel, and poured in the milk. He swished the bag around in the cup, crushing it against the side before tossing it into the bin liner under the sink.