When Anna returns to England in 1944, after serving in Normandy as a special agent, she is sure her spying days are over, but old age feels like being back behind enemy lines and if she is to keep her independence she must bring her intelligence skills back into play, find the gun she never handed in and face up to the ghosts that have haunted her ever since.
But for Anna this battered green file is much too important to be hurried. She's reached the age when for whole months at a time nothing much happens. But this isn't nothing. The file might answer a question that has been snagging her thoughts for more than sixty years, irritating her like a torn nail, like someone knocking on the front door of her mind, a caller who refuses to give up and go away. This is important to her and she will take her time.
Sixty years ago she undertook an assessment, came to a conclusion, made a decision and killed a man. That moment became the turning point of her war, the tipping point of her whole life. This file may throw light on that incident. Anna has a daughter of her own but they never shared a moment like the one she has just witnessed through the glass. What happened, not far from where she now sits, cast a long shadow over her life, a shadow that has thinned but is still there.
She doesn't go to church any more, hasn't been for years. In spite of this, the language of her catholic upbringing has a hold over her still. She doesn't believe in a divine being or an after-life, but she longs to be forgiven.
She stares at the file, still reluctant to pick it up because there is another word left over from her days of faith. That word is redemption. She thinks of her life as a catalogue of mistakes. The folder may contradict this. Perhaps it will at last give her a reason to be proud of that wilful young woman who has unaccountably grown old and turned into her.
Chris Bridge was born in Hull in 1947. He studied English and Philosophy at Nottingham University. After graduating he tried to combine teaching and writing but teaching won and he eventually became Headteacher of Huntington School, York, finishing his school career as a National Leader of Education. Since retiring he has been a regular contributor to poetry magazines. His poems have featured in the winning lists of Hippocrates and Stanza poetry competitions. Back Behind Enemy Lines is his first novel. He lives in North Yorkshire.