Gone #ThreeLineTales

three line tales week 90: New York subway

On the wrong train! Was in hurry just got on the 1st 1 it’s full of strange people who keep staring at me it’s dead quiet no 1 is doing anything. Should get off at the next stop but scared 2.  

(Inspired from; https://only100words.xyz/2017/10/19/three-line-tales-week-90 with thanks).

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Querulous #atozchallenge

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Querulous; complaining in a whining manner. 

Mum said I was just too much and this would be better all around. I didn’t believe her though but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d never travelled by myself before and it was a long way to go to Aunt Maggie’s. I’d be excited about going on the train, but now two hours later, I was bored.

The train was rattling loudly and clicking over the rails. Rain was hitting the window and the countryside was racing past in blurs of green and yellows. I couldn’t focus on counting sheep or other animals now. For awhile, I had watched the old woman, who I was sharing this carriage compartment with, but then she had fallen sleep.

She reminded me of my great grandmother because of all the wrinkles and old dress. The woman had been reading, then knitting a scarf, then eating lunch before she had gone to sleep. I was tried too, but feeling awake. Leaning against the window ledge, I watched the rain and began thinking.

I wasn’t being sent away because I was bad, mum had made sure to tell me that, it was because she wasn’t well. She needed someone to look after her and there was no one, so she had to go to hospital which meant there was no one to look after me. I couldn’t be by myself, not just because I’m only thirteen, but because I have autism.

Autism is a hard thing to explain to people, so I don’t talk about it often. Mum says, I’m not different, I’m normal, but I just have a special way of thinking and doing things. There are lots of other people like me and they have their own ways too, just like everyone else does. I wish I didn’t have it though. If I was normal, I could look after myself and mum better.

Instead, I’ve to go to Aunt Maggie’s though I’ve not seen her for years and she’s not really my aunt but a very old friend of mum’s. I don’t know how much she knows about me, but mum says she’s really nice and with it being half term, I won’t have to move schools. Hopefully, she’ll be nice and let me play games and read my comic books all the time.

I had been fighting going to Aunt Maggie’s for the last two weeks. Mum had slowly started suggesting it along side explain things to me. I told her I could stay in the hospital with her or someone else could look after me. What about my normal babysitter, Nancy? I really like her and she always makes me laugh. I’d have anyone, I plead; even Mrs. Cramps, the crazy lady who smells bad and lives at the end of the street.

No, mum had said, no one else can do it. Please don’t make this harder. Be a good boy.

I was a good boy, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with her. I wanted to stay in my bed, in my room, in my house. I didn’t want to go to some place new. I don’t like new things, especially if it’s noisy. Mum knew that and still she had tried to make me excited about going. It hadn’t really worked even though the train had been a nice distraction.

That’s how she’d really got me on the way to Aunt Maggie’s and the bag fill of snacks, toys and comics. Now, I was getting close to arriving and meeting Aunt Maggie, my mind had changed again. No longer did the way mum had put things make a difference. I just knew it was going to be too hard. I couldn’t be good if I didn’t like it. That was just the way it worked.

I shut my eyes, listening to the rain falling and the old woman snoring. I’d try my best I decided then if I was really good, maybe I’d be able to go home faster.

The Dying Light (Part 1)

lantern, light, rustic

 Nathaniel arrived late at night on the tiny train station platform, tried and dirty from the journey. As the old steam train pulled away behind him, he looked around, loosely clutching his large case in one hand at his side. There was a small hut with a single door and window to his right. A light in an old fashioned black case with a fancy pointed dome on top hung over the door.

He went to the window and looked in, but it was dark inside. He tried the door but it was locked. Sighing, he walked away and back to the middle of the platform. There was nothing else here and no other source of light. For a few moments, he wondered if this was a dream; had he fallen a sleep on the train?

Then from far in the distance came a flash of white light and Nathaniel saw for a few seconds what lay before him. Stretching as far as he could see was a marshland. Large pools of dark water, some of which were half hidden by the giant reeds created moats around islands of tall grass. Unseen bullfrogs croaked loudly and splashed into the deep waters, their sounds the only thing that could be heard.

‘Yes, I’m dreaming,’ he uttered, ‘this can’t really be the place!’

He went back to the hut’s door and banged loudly on it. The lantern above his head swung, creaking on a short chain. No one answered the door.

‘Hello? Is anyone in there?’ Nathaniel shouted, ‘I’m Father Tawny and I’m looking for Mrs. Fitz. She called me to give aid in her dying hour.’

His voice faded and he listened hard but still heard nothing. At a lost for want to do, Nathaniel paced the tiny platform which was actually only a few feet across. His case swung about then he placed it down and carried on walking back and forth. Every so often he would see the flash of white light in the distance and catch a glance of the dark marshland.

‘God, I could do with some guidance,’ Nathaniel muttered, ‘how am I to get over there?’

He quickened his pacing as he tried to think. He went back to the hut again and double checked the door. He rattled the handle hard and without really meaning to give the door a sharp kick. Suddenly, the door handle and lock came away in his hand, the wood splintering loudly. Nathaniel stumbled backwards as the door squeaked open.

He looked down, seeing the handle and lock in his hand. Glancing around he made sure no one had seen him then walked into the hut. The door, he noticed had totally rotted away which had made it easier for the handle and lock to come away. He set them on a small desk and looked around in the gloomy light.

There was hardly anything inside the hut. He found a stack of tickets, a few pens, an empty water bottle, a box of matches, four candles and a large lantern. Upon realising this, he thanked God, collected the last three items and took them outside under the light above the door.

Inspecting the lantern, Nathaniel saw it was a simply made long rectangle with black iron and thick glass panels. The handle was a massive hoop like that of a door handle and seemed quite secure. The door was a latch lock and it took a few moments for Nathaniel to open it. Picking the biggest candle, he placed it inside and lit a match. The tiny flame glowed brightly then become two as the wick caught.

Removing the match, Nathaniel shook it out then closed the lantern door. The candle light made a nice circle to see by.

‘Thank you, Father,’ Nathaniel whispered.

Putting the other candles and matches into his long brown coat’s pockets, he picked up the lantern and his case. Moving the light around the platform, he walked to the nearest corner and looked down at the train tracks which led away from the mash. The distant white light flashed by and he turned his head towards it in time to see something at the opposite corner.

There was attached to the edge of the platform a wooden plank. He approached slowly, letting the light show him the way. The plank was attached to a second one then a third by thinning ropes on either sides. It was a bridge just above the marshland. The planks were dark, but dry and seemed to led towards the distance flashing light.

Nathaniel reached a booted foot out and stepped onto the plank. There was a small groan and slight shifting movement. He put his other foot on and uttering a pray moved on to the next one. The bridge held his weight and underneath him rose the smell of stagnate water with rotting vegetation. A bullfrog crocked loudly close by, startling him and Nathaniel saw the long legs of said bullfrog jump off the bridge and splash into a pool below.

Swallowing, Nathaniel tightened his grip on his case and lantern, started whispering another prayer and walked further into dark marsh.

 

To Be Continued…

(This story was originally written for Sue’s Thursday Photo Prompt Lantern. However, I decided it was too long and I wanted to divided it up into smaller parts, making it unsuitable for the prompt. Sometimes, my story ideas demand to be longer and I like to do them justice, so that what they want to tell can happen. So, please enjoy this story and if you like it please give me a like and share it with your friends. Feel free to leave comments too, I love hearing feedback and it helps inspire me to write more. Also, if you are not already please follow my blog. I’d love to get up to 500 followers this year! I’m currently at 327 followers. Thanks, Hayley)

Love Don’t Bother (Part 4)

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Trying not to over think as the train whizzed me away and rain pelted the windows, I set my thoughts on my work and the week ahead. For some reason, though I couldn’t get the image of Darcy, Amelia, Alex and Luke sat on the sofa eating Chinese food. My cruel mind put words in their mouth and I hear Alex say, ‘good job she’s not here or she would have eaten all the food already!’

Darcy chines in with, ‘You know she’s addicted to prawn crackers. I saw her eat two whole bags once!’

‘Hey, there’ll be left overs for lunch tomorrow!’ Amelia points out.

Then maybe, Luke might tell them to stop being mean to me. Alex will laugh and say, ‘it’s fine, she’s not here, she won’t care!’

I shake my head and swallow a lump in my throat. I try to convince myself that they would never have that kind of conversation about me, but as the train pulls into the station it’s too deeply planted in my head.

I get off the train and hurry through the ticket gate, which I almost get stuck in. Without looking back, I go to the automatic doors and step outside in the rain. I wipe my face and sweep my hair back, enjoying the cold air on my skin. The crowd is crazy, but everyone gives me a wide berth and though no one is staring at me, I know they all see me. How can they miss me? The giant wearing blanket size clothes.

‘Marcy? Marcy?’

I turn at my name and see Ben coming through the doors. He looks smart in black trousers and a pale blue shirt. He’s unbuttoned the first few buttons and I can see a v shape of his chest. His large stomach hangs low, strapped in by a black belt. He’s dark brown hair is neatly cut short and his face looks tried and concerned.

‘Hi,’ I say softly.

‘Are you okay? Did you have a panic attack on the train again?’ he asks.

I shake my head. He reaches out and takes my hand. His fingers are warm and soft.

‘Let’s go and eat. You’ll feel better.’

I nod and let him led me off into the city.

The bad weather hasn’t stopped people – mostly the students, from a night out. The bars, pubs and clubs already seem busy. We weave through everyone and the streets, passing a Superlambanana statue on the way. They are a new icon of Liverpool; with the body of a sheep and tail of a lamb covered in brightly coloured paint. I feel drawn to stop and look, but Ben tugs me on.

We reach my favourite restaurant and Ben opens the door. The smell of burgers and fried onions hangs in the air. We take the second window booth in the small sixties America themed room. The long counter is directly to my left and it stretches all the way to the back where the toilets are. On the other side of it is a row of plastic red chairs and matching tables as well as two more read leather booths at the end.

The walls are covered with all sorts of memorabilia and Americana. Most of its sixties rock ‘n’ roll, with framed records and photos. A red electric guitar hangs a meter or so above my head. The sign claiming it belonged to some rock singer I’ve never heard of. It always reminds me of Back To The Future.

Feeling soaked, I take off my jacket and grab a menu. It feels slightly sticky in my hands, but I turn the pages anyway. I scan the words, but don’t really take them in, my thoughts have switch to wondering why I’m here. Of course, to have a date with Ben, but was it actually worth it? Maybe my time would have been better spent studying some more and stuffing my face full of Chinese food.

‘You look nice,’ Ben says suddenly.

I glance over and thank him.

A waiter appears and politely takes our drinks order, a strawberry milkshake for me and a vanilla one for Ben.

Then Ben reaches over and takes my hands in his. He rubs my knuckles and watches the movement.

‘Thank God you text me when you did,’ I speak out, ‘I sort of forgot we were meeting tonight. I was busy studying.’

‘Glad I did then and you study too much!’ Ben responses.

I shrug, ‘a PhD is a lot of work.’

‘And what will you do when it’s done next year?’

‘Stay at the uni, hopefully.’

I trail off and look outside at the rain and the city lights. I can just about hear people laughing and talking. Ben is staring at me, I can feel it, waiting for me to go on, but I don’t want to talk. My mood feels like the weather; depressed and gloomy. Ben is still stroking my hands.

‘I really like you, Marcy,’ he says.

I snap back to him, ‘what? We’ve only met twice now…’

‘So?’ he presses and smiles at me.

I press my lips together and smile back, I can’t help it. He’s cute with his baby chubby cheeks and long black eye lashes. There’s something infections about his orange slice smile and laughing eyes.

The waiter returns and we are forced to break hands as the drinks are placed down.

‘Ready to order food?’ he asks.

‘I’ll have a chicken burger, please’ I say.

Ben ponders, glances at the menu then, ‘can I have the bbq chicken pizza?’

‘Of course, thank you,’ the waiter speaks and turns away.

I watch him go and place the order in even though the chef is right behind him. Looking further up, I notice the last booth next to the toilets is occupied. Two young teenage looking boys are staring at me and I can make out a third too, but all I can see is his sticking up hair. The boys look away and carry on with what they are doing.

A wave of nerves wiggles in my stomach and I turn back to the window. I just know they are talking about me…

‘Marcy? Are you feeling okay?’ Ben asks, he’s been sipping his milkshake.

‘Sure,’ I mutter and take a drink of mine, though I wish it was alcohol.

‘Look, I know that was a bit sudden, but you said we had to be honest about everything with each other. So I was just being,’ Ben explains.

I stir the straw in the thick shake, wrestling with myself over what to say.

Ben leans back, his hands pressing down the table top, ‘it’s fine if you don’t like me…I really thought you did though…’

‘I do! It’s just that…’ I take a deep breath, ‘I’m worried you only want one thing…’

His lips twitch and form an O as he makes that sound.

I shrug, ‘why else would you want to date me? I’m not pretty and I have all these issues.’

‘You’re completely wrong. You are very pretty and your issues are not all of you,’ Ben cries.

‘Really?’ I look up through my eye lashes, trying to judge his words.

‘Yes. And of course that’s the ultimate goal, but I’m happy to wait and right now I’m just enjoying your company,’ Ben adds.

I smile, feeling the nerves being overtaking with tingles of delight.

‘A chicken burger and a pizza?’

We both look up and let go of each other’s hands. The waiter places the food down, tells us to enjoy and leaves.

‘Do you really mean that?’ I ask.

Ben nods and unfolds his napkin, ‘wouldn’t say it if I didn’t.’

‘Good.’

I pick up my cutlery and spear a chip. Putting it in my mouth, I watch Ben chopping on a slice of pizza and I just feel things are going to work out between us.

Here We Stand (Part 2)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

I peered through the arched doorway and saw the stone spiral steps leading downwards but also upwards. I squeezed inside and found it was a tight fit between the staircase column and opposite wall. Going downwards, I felt the rough wall with my hand and listened to my hiking bag scrapping along behind me.

It took me a moment to realise the steps had ended. I shuffled on, hoping to find a light switch or to see another source. The air was cold, almost crypt like, but I could smell no rotting bodies, it was just the scent of dampness still. My hand flew into an empty gap and I stopped. There was a hole in the wall.

Deciding there was nothing else for it, I swung off my hiking bag and put it down. My shoulders and back burned whilst a cold air rushed under my t-shirt and danced on my sweaty skin. I rubbed my back and listened to the dripping of water somewhere close by. Fumbling with straps, zips and buckle clips, I opened a side pocket and pulled out a glow stick.

Dim green light filled my vision as I cracked and shook the stick about. I blinked, refocused and took in my surroundings. Large flagstones covered in dirt lined the floor and just above my head was the ceiling. The doorway next to me led into a bathroom. The dripping water was coming from a sink beside a toilet.

Grabbing my hiking bag, I walked sideward then let the straps go as I inspected the sink. It was hard to tell what colour it had been as rust had now taken over. I shone the glow stick close to the water and watched as a red coloured drop ran passed. I turned the tap. It was stuck fast, but after a few tugs, it come loose and iron stained water rushed forth.

The sound blasted around me, unlocking the silence that had been weighing against my ears. I stole some glances over my shoulder, but could see nothing forming out of the shadows that had claimed their space back. I turned and waited for the water to change colour. When nothing happened after a few second, I placed the glow stick down and saw a shard of mirror had been left against the sink.

Cupping my hands, I put them under the water then took a careful sip. It tasted like old soil in which veg had rotted, but it was strangely sweet. Shrugging I had some more then went back for a few more handfuls. The water filled my empty belly and left a tangy, metallic taste in my mouth.

Picking up the glow stick, I bent and tried to catch my reflection in the mirror shard. I could just see the growing beard on my face and my long ragged hair drooping on my too thin cheeks. Standing up, I patted my stomach through my damp baggy t-shirt and carried on.

There was nothing else down here. Or if there was it had long been sealed up.

Returning to the staircase, the full weight of my hiking bag on again pulling me down, I trudged upstairs. There were more steps going up, but finally I found myself in a decrepit bell tower. The wooden floorboards looked okay, but there was a trap door in the centre that had been under the bell. Looking up into the roof, I could not really tell where the bell had once been attached too. There was no doubt in my mind though that it had been taken away to be used somewhere else or melted down.

The tower was open on all three sides, so cold and now rain could come in. I went to the nearest opening and looked out. In the fast building evening light, I could see the tops of trees and houses. A fire was burning a few miles to my left. I could see the smoke rising and perhaps a flicker of orange. It was hard to tell if it was a beacon or some vandals.

The rain peppered my skin, making me feel more refreshed as I went to the next opening. This one looked over more trees and houses. Chimneys reached to the cloudy, gunmetal grey sky, their bricks darkened by the rain. Was that the railway station? Maybe not, but it looked big enough. My thoughts darted back to last night when I had slept fitfully in a storage room.

Stepping away, I went to the third opening. This one looked out on a small graveyard. The headstones stuck up through the tall grass as if demanding still to be seen. A few trees grew on the edge then spread to create woodland. Most of the trees had to be evergreen because all the others were slowly surrounding to autumn. I could see no further as evening settled in.

Not giving into dropping my hiking bag, I went back downstairs. Coming into the church’s altar again, I looked round and tried to decide where the best place to sleep was.

 

To Be Continued…

The Train Station (Part 6)

Train Station

Bridget returned to the train station the next day. Nothing had changed, expect for the people. As she walked along to the coffee shop, someone was playing the piano. Slipping her headphones off, she heard the end notes of a song that sounded like it came from a Disney movie. Trying to figure what it had been, she went into the shop and joined the queue.

It was busy today. The smell of coffee drawing everyone in and the sight of snacks tempting even the strong willed. Bridget fiddled with her headphones, wanting to put them back on but knowing if she did that it would be her turn to order. So, she fell into people watching without really meaning too.

The old man in front of her was holding his glasses to his eyes and looking at the menu. He was leaning slightly on the handle of a suitcase, though trying to act like he was not needing any support. His skin was tanned and wrinkly and there was golden wedding band on his finger. he was wearing cool, loosing fitting cotton clothes and comfy shoes that sort of looked like slippers, but could not have been. He was also muttering the menu under his breath.

Leaving him and looking further down, Bridget saw four other people, one of whom person  seemed to be holding up the line as they could not make up their mind. Bridget started with him, noticing the blue suit he was wearing and the neat hair cut. She thought for a second, she reconsidered him, but then he turned and he was a stranger.

After him were three people waiting for their drinks. They were all woman and two of them seemed to know each other. Bridget could not get a clear view, but she thought they sounded like they were from London. The third woman was wearing a bright summer dress and looking unhappy. Or maybe she just really needed some coffee.

‘Hi, can I take your order, please?’

Bridget snapped around to the man behind the counter and said the first think to come into her head, ‘a caramel latte please.’

‘Size?’

‘Medium with cream,’ she added.

The man nodded and told her the cost. Bridget handed the money over and went to join the small group of people waiting. Once she had her drink, she hurried outside and grabbed any empty chair she could. Sitting down opposite the teenage girl who had let her have the chair, Bridget relaxed.

She looked around the station, hoping to spot Drew or Sas or someone else she had recorded in her notebook. The people before her seemed alien. They were hurrying about in that way she had  become use to, heading to the trains or out of the station. The hum of voices mixed with the sound of trains and also the background sounds of the city that the strong wind was blowing in. The smell of coffee, mingled with engine oil, people and fast food.

Bridget wrapped her hands around her coffee cup and wondered why she had thought she’d ever see them all again. The train station was just a gateway for these people. They came from their homes or places of work, went to wherever they were going in the city then headed back again. Or the other way around. She sighed and without thinking of it dipped a finger into the whipped cream on top of her coffee and licked it off.

The teenage girl soon left, not saying anything else to her, even if she had seen Bridget licking the cream and sipping burning latte nosily. Bridget drew out her notebook and pen. She glanced around, sadly and tried to pick out someone from the crowd.

She just could not do it though. Her head was filled with a vision of those two men meeting and hurrying off. Their story had to be told and somehow she was the one who had to do it.

The Train Station (Part 5)

Train Station

Bridget did not want to leave the train station, but the hour of people watching was over and she had to go to work. Packing up her things, she put on her headphones and selected a random play list. Enjoying the fact there had been no bad piano players today- in fact no one had touched the instrument- she left the station.

Stepping out into a light rain fall, she hurried to the bus station, ignoring the people all around her. The loud music did a good job of covering up all the voices and other background noises of the city. Avoiding walking under the scaffolding of a building being done up, she stepped on the tram lines and went up the hill.

Reaching the tram station, which looked empty, she headed across to the bus station and waited for her bus home. Her thoughts flipped back to seeing those two men- Drew and Sas. Who were they? What was their story? Bridget let her imagination run and she began to picture them as lovers, not long been together. There was some trouble with their families. Maybe, one of them had not been able to tell his family? Drew, the man who had been waiting and clearly stressed had serious Catholic parents and he knew if they found out he was in love with a man they’d disown him.

Bridget shook her head, deciding that would not do. The bus pulled up and the doors opened. She dug out her day pass and joined the queue to get on. Showing her ticket and sitting down, her mind was still wondering what the problem was with those two men. There was just something about them she couldn’t get rid of. Resting her head lightly against the cold window, she shut her eyes and tried to let everything go. It would not do having that kind of story in her head when she arrived for work.

All too soon, she was getting off the bus and crossing the road over to the youth center. The rain had gotten worse and was now rapidly coming down. Bridget was early, but a few junior club members were already hanging around outside waiting to come in. Slipping her headphones off, Bridget said her hellos as she dig around for her id badge. The doors opened before her anyway and she stepped inside.

‘I can’t believe this weather!’ the receptionist cried.

Bridget nodded and signed in. Not feeling in the mood to chat with the older woman. The receptionist had short dark blonde hair, hard blue eyes and a pinched together looking face. She was wearing the center’s light green t-shirt and black trousers.

‘It was so nice before and now it’s raining again. I’m meant to be going out tonight too…’ she added

‘It’ll have stopped by then,’ Bridget said.

‘I hope so.’

Placing down the pen, Bridget hurried to get changed in the staff room. Thankfully, the small room was empty and she switched her t-shirts with ease. Coming out again, she crossed the center’s large open main space and to what looked at first glance to be a bar area, but was actually the art’s corner. Humming to herself and thinking about what she was going to do, Bridget began opening cupboards and pulling things out.

Luckily, Bridget’s shift went fast and she was home before she knew it. Though she was very grateful. Feet hurting, she got changed and went into the kitchen barefoot. Her mum, who she had spoken too already was curled on the sofa watching a movie. Bridget made herself some tomato soup and a ham sandwich. Taking them upstairs, she eat then got writing up her notes from the day.

Her mind began to wonder once more and she looked carefully at what she was writing, Bridget decided she had to know more about those two men. What was going on between Drew and Sas?

Sadly, she knew she would never find out.

 

To Be Continued…

The Train Station (Part 4)

Train Station

The train station was just as busy as it had been yesterday. Bridget sat at the same table outside the coffee shop, notebook and pen awaiting her. This time though, she was sipping an ice fruit smoothie. Lost in thought, it took her a few seconds to see the man indicating to the empty chair opposite her.

‘Is anyone sitting here? Sorry to trouble you,’ he added.

Bridget glanced to the tables either side of her and saw that they were both occupied. The one on her right had a very large lady reading a thick book sitting at it and the one on the left had a teenage couple, both playing on their phones. Bridget nodded at the man and gratefully he sat down.

‘I was thinking,’ Bridget spoke.

The man looked questioningly at her.

‘That’s why I didn’t notice you,’ she added.

‘Oh. Its fine,’ the man answered.

Bridget smiled and took him in. The man was in his mid-thirties, with black wavy hair and a sculptured face. His nose, cheeks and chin, reminded her of Roman busts. He was wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans and carrying a single bag. He was holding a takeaway coffee cup and taking the lid off the top.

‘Are you waiting for a train?’ he asked.

‘No…I’m…waiting for a friend. Her train is late,’ Bridget answered.

The man nodded, ‘I’ve got a few minutes till mine.’

Bridget stopped herself from asking where he was going and instead put his face into her memory so she could write him up later.

The man turned from her, looking at the train time table board then at the ticket barrier. A train had clearly just come in and a crowd of people were coming through.

Bridget also drew her attention to them. Many seemed to be coming for a Friday night out or to spend the weekend. There were large groups of only men and only women, followed by a small mixed group of barely old enough teenagers. Bridget spotted a Hen party. All the women were wearing sashes that were pink and had silver writing on. They towed small suitcases and were chatting loudly.

Someone started playing chopsticks on the piano. The musical notes rising above the voices and the engines of trains.

Bridget sipped her drink and shot shy glances at the man. There’s no harm in asking him where he’s going, she thought.

A barking dog drew her attention away and she looked up. A woman was running to the ticket gates, holding two dog leads in one hand and suitcase in the other. Her dogs were racing beside her; a boarder collier and a smaller cross mix. She approached the wide gate, waved her train ticket in the guard’s face and was let in. Bridget watched her running to platform six, the dog still barking.

‘I have to go. Hope your friend gets here soon,’ the man said.

Bridget snapped her head back to him, ‘yes. Me too, thanks,’ she muttered.

The man stood, gave her a small wave and left. Bridget’s eyes followed him, noticing how nice his bum looked in those tight jeans.

Placing her drink down, she flipped open her book, wrote the date and title on the top line and started jotting down his description. She recalled as much as possible, adding in the question of where he was going underneath. Finishing up, Bridget looked up and saw a young man pacing before her.

He was checking his phone and when he reached the entrance to the pub he turned and came back. As he reached the entrance to the coffee shop, he turned and walked back again. Bridget watched him, fascinated. He was wearing a t-shirt that was too big that had some cryptic logo on and baggy jeans with scruffy trainers. There was something about the way he was pacing, it was frantic and clearly he was desperately waiting for someone.

Bridget dropped her eyes away and drew a line under what she had just written. With another look up, she began writing about the pacing man. Letting her pen flow across the lined page, she did not think too much about what she was writing. Stealing more glances, she noted down his clothes and how he looked. He had flat, wide cheek bones and a slight tan to his skin. His eyes were dark and constantly on his phone. He was so fixated that he did not notice his longish hair moving downwards over his face.

He stopped suddenly, looking up at the barrier as if he had heard something.

Bridget paused her pen and stared too. A new train load of people had arrived and they were all barraging through. There were too many faces and brightly coloured summer clothes mixed together for her to just focus on one person. So many had come for a night out, yet it had barely hit the afternoon. Families drifted passed with young children and large suitcases. Two middle-aged women stepped off to the side near the pub and began waving the rest of their group over to them.

Bridget regarded the pacing man. His back was completely turned and he was watching the crowd. Or at least she guessed he was. Whilst she studied him, a tall man peeled himself away from everyone else and came over. The pacing man jumped a little on the balls of his feet and slipped his phone away. As the man approached, they hugged and the pacing man went to kiss the other.

‘Not here,’ the other man whispered and quickly withdrew.

‘No one cares, Sas,’ the pacing man muttered.

The man nodded at Bridget, who quickly turned away and grabbed her drink.

‘Well, I don’t care!’

‘Calm down, Drew,’ Sas said quietly.

Bridget slurped the rest of drink and put it down. Her fingers were wet, so she rubbed them on her jeans before picking up her pen again. Moving her hair back with her other hand, Bridget looked secretly at the men. The second one was a lot taller than the first and more muscular. He also had softer cheek bones and plum lips. His hair was a rich brown and floppy. He was wearing tight, low slung jeans and a half open midnight blue shirt.

‘I don’t see why I should! Why are you so later anyway?’ Drew snapped.

‘The trains,’ Sas said with a quick shrug of his shoulders, ‘Do you want to stay here for coffee?’

‘No…let’s find a wine bar,’ Drew demanded.

‘Okay, fine, whatever…’ Sas trailed.

They began walking away, their footsteps mingling with the countless others and becoming lost in the background noise.

Bridget got back to her notebook and began writing furiously.

 

To Be Continued…

The Train Station (Part 2)

Train Station

Bridget watched the hurrying people with interest and was reminded of the sea. People come in and out of the barriers alongside the trains coming in and out of the station. The noise of footsteps, voices, suitcase and pram wheels become one solid background sound that competed with the rattle of train wheels and rumbling of engines. Above it all, came the PA lady’s voice, shouting the arriving, departing and delays on the trains.

Sipping her latte, Bridget dug her other hand into her bag and pulled out a small notebook. Setting that on the now dry table, she reached back in for a pen and spent a few moments locating one. Pulling out a heavy sliver fountain pen, Bridget slid her eyes over to the table beside her.

The middle-age couple had fallen back into silence with the man looking at his phone and the woman now stealing glances at Bridget. Their eyes met once more and this time the woman turned away and drew out her own phone.

Bridget turned her back to them and flipped open the notebook. She turned to the next blank page, her fancy handwriting on the previous pages not catching her eyes enough to make her stop. Picking up her pen and taking the lid off, Bridget wrote the date at the right top corner of the page just like high school had drilled into her for five years. Then in the middle of that line she wrote; Observations At Victoria Train Station, Manchester, 2: 21pm.

From her mind’s eye, she then wrote a detailed description of the couple sitting next to her. After, she recorded that snatch of conversation she had heard. Looking down at what she had written, she tried not to read it back, but to let it go from her mind. Rising her head and tucking a strand of her long med-brown coloured fringe back, Bridget stared at the barriers and watched the flow of people come to a slow stop.

Two men wearing yellow high visibility vests patrolled the area. They were checking tickets that gates would not let through and opening the wide gate for those with prams, suitcases and wheelchairs. Further to the left side and now more visible, another group of people wearing the same yellow vests stood behind a desk. They seemed to be in charge of getting passengers just off trains to pay for their tickets if they had not been able to before. Bridget had missed them in the crowd of the lunch-time rush. The station crew did not held her gaze for long though.

The tinkling of piano brought her head around and to the train time board. Just underneath the forever changing place names and times was a large black upright piano. It had been painted with that special blackboard paint, allowing chalk writing and images to cover the surface.

Bridget had clocked it before when she had been heading to the coffee shop. Even though she could not see it now, she remembered that purple letters had shouted out play on me! Then they had been something about the piano being given free by the Manchester School of Music for public use.

Taking a few big drinks of her now cooling latte, Bridget listened to the sad musical notes ringing out. She did not recognize the song. Though if it was classic, she would have no idea anyway, beside from the few famous ones that get played all the time. On the other hand if it was a pop song or a love ballad, she would not have known that either.

Placing her half empty cup down, she picked up her pen and decided to note down the idea of a pianist who could only play sad music. Maybe his lover has died and he can no longer face the world.  The door of his Paris flat has been locked for many years and he’s now slowly dying as he creates the most saddest music man had ever known.

Bridget trailed off the idea. That was not her normally story writing subject. The song on the piano ended and though it had been good, nobody clapped. Normal sounds filled the train station once more. The female announcer broken in with, ‘the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train which was previously delayed, is now arriving at platform three. This service will be stopping at; Liverpool Lime Street only. Please keep your luggage with you at all times.’

The couple hurriedly finished their drinks and got up. Bridget watched them from underneath her hair as they gathered their belongings.

‘Finally!’ the man spoke out, ‘stupid trains, never on time.’

The woman shook her head and looked like she was going to say something back. Thinking better of it, she followed the man out of the coffee shop seating area and towards the barriers. Bridget saw her give a quick glance over her shoulder.

Was she checking if I was following her or if she’d left something behind? Bridget wondered.

Frowning, Bridget watched them feeding their tickets into the gate and going though. Dropping her shoulders and wishing she could have learnt more from that snatch of conversation the couple had had, she let her eyes drift across the station. There was still a large number of people standing about or walking. A few had gathered under the train time table board and were looking up at it. Other people standing still were clearly waiting for people. Bridget spotted someone coming towards her.

He was a tall guy, six foot two at lest and he had long black hair tied back off his face. He had a bushy beard too and a very round fat face. He was a huge young man with a belly hardly held in by the belt of his jeans. He was wearing a black heavy metal band t-shirt and was looking down at his phone as if the thing was alive.

Bridget picked up her pen and began writing again. Another part of her mind drifted off into thinking about who he was waiting for. A family member? An old friend? Maybe he might be going on a first date with someone he met online?

Bridget raised her head and looked at him. She could see the handsomeness in him, the almost American biker style look or perhaps Viking warrior. His arm muscles looked strong under his t-shirt despite his overweight body. Suddenly the man looked up, but not at her at the gates were a woman was coming through. She had ginger hair, fair skin with a splattering of brown freckles and small features. She was wearing a blue vest top, leather jacket and long blue skirt. She was also just carrying a handbag on one shoulder.

She came over, looking happy if a little tried and hugged the huge man. She had to stand on tiptoes and her arms barely went around his bulging neck. She seemed to become lost against him as they embraced tightly. Then, they kissed and hand in hand walked away.

Bridget watched them go, her mind reeling then took to her notebook once more. Just as she started writing someone began playing the piano. It was a different person this time. Bridget rose her head as the first notes become caught up in a man singing- badly. She tried to see who was seated at the piano, but it was not possible from the angle she was at. Getting back to writing, she tried block out the off key and slightly squeaky rendition of a current love song.

She hurriedly wrote down what she could remember about the young man and his girlfriend. Setting her pen down, she finished her coffee and thought about leaving. The man on the piano was making a terrible sound with his voice and yet his playing was not so bad. It also seemed like he had attracted a small group of people, but Bridget knew they were actually looking at the train time table.

She packed her stuff away, zipped up her bag and stood up. Tugging it on as she walked away, Bridget avoided a small running toddler whose mother was yelling in Polish for him to come back. She side stepped and carried on walking as the pianist finished his song and launched into another one.

She saw him for the first time, a short Asian man with close cut black hair, wearing jeans and a green polo shirt. There was a large gold watch on his wrist, which didn’t seem to be slowing him from playing. Bridget almost stopped, the notes sounding very familiar. Then the man opened his mouth and began singing the theme song from Titanic.

Bridget cringed, unable to hide it from her face and picked up her pace. She headed out of the train station the piano and terrible singing chasing after her. Stepping through the doorway, she took a few breaths of polluted city air and though she did not really want to, Bridget went home.

 

To Be Continued…

The Train Station (Part 1)

Train Station

The train station was busy as Bridget waited for a table outside the coffee shop. She leant against the wall with her large headphones getting uncomfortable around her neck. She looked for a place to quickly put her latte down but there was no space. She glanced through the window of the shop and thought about going back inside. A burst of laughter drew her attention and she looked at the people occupying the tables.

A group of eight young businessmen had put two of the small tables together and were enjoying a late lunch whilst talking loudly. They were all wearing black suits with white shirts and plain coloured ties. At their feet were messenger bags and small rucksacks. Bridget tried to hear what they were saying, but it was difficult to when they were all talking and laughing at once.

Bridget looked at the only other table where a middle-aged couple sat in silence. By their body languages they were avoiding each other. The man was turned away, looking down at something whilst the woman was looking across at the businessmen. She turned her head and met Bridget’s eyes, a frown on her lips. Bridget knew what the woman saw; a geeky twenty- something girl getting her afternoon coffee fix.

Feeling a touch of guilt, Bridget looked away and up at the train times’ board. From here though the orange letters and numbers with unreadable. However, she was not waiting for a train or for someone to arrive; she was here for something else.

Stealing glances at the couple, whilst trying to pretend she wasn’t watching them, her mind began to fill with ideas. What was their story? She questioned herself. The writer in her wanted to jot all these thoughts down before they become lost to the void. Still though, she hung back, holding her hot takeaway coffee cup and looking around the station.

A large number of people were heading to or from the barrier gates. Suitcases wheeled behind a few of them whilst the majority had rucksacks and some had others bags. Most of the people, Bridget saw were alone and clearly traveling for business. A handful of people were in small groups of friends or family. Voices rose and fell, echoing slightly by the glass roof as they all mingled into one.

The sounds of trains arriving and departing broke up the collected voices. Loud rumblings and clicking of engines sent vibrations through the floor. A whistle blew somewhere, the sharp sound cutting through everything else. A train started to leave platform one, which was only a few meters away from the coffee shop. Bridget watched it go, lost in thought.

A female voice over the PA crackled in with an update announcement, ‘the two-oh-five train to Blackpool North is arriving on platform six and I’m sorry to say that the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train has been delayed due to a passenger taking ill at a previous station. It is now due in at two-forty-eight on platform three.’

Bridget flashed her eyes up to the roof as if the woman was actually speaking from there. For a moment her thoughts switched to imagining that being the case and just like a life guard sat on their tower, Bridget saw a woman sat on top of the station’s roof monitoring all the trains and informing the passengers.

Smiling, she finally gave into being drawn back so much to the couple. Watching them, she started to notice things. The man had short brown hair, a long nose and scrubby brown beard. He was wearing a loose blue shirt and black trousers. One of his legs was resting on top of the other and sometimes he would wiggle his black pointy shoe. He was on his phone, Bridget observed, reading an online newspaper.

The woman on the other hand was fixated on her coffee. Her sad eyes were staring into the white mug clutched tightly in her hand. Bridget knew that look and guessed the woman was fighting back something she wanted to say to the man. Stress lines crossed the woman’s face, appearing through her natural look makeup. She took some shelter behind her curled blonde hair whilst risking a look at the man. She was wearing a peach blouse, a black pencil skirt with coal tights and black flats. The clothing showed nicely her curvy figure and large breasts.

The woman sighed and opened her mouth to speak a few quiet words, ‘I still can’t believe you said that.’

The man slowly rose his head, met her eyes and replied, ‘she deserved it and don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same.’

‘Not like that though…’ the woman trailed with a small shake of her head.

The man shrugged and looked back at his phone again. The woman let out a sigh and stared into her mug once more.

Bridget’s curiosity swelled. To distract herself, she took a small sip of her latte. The hot sweet coffee burnt her tongue and she quickly withdrew. Swallowing as she winced, Bridget noticed the businessmen leaving.

They stood up slowly, keeping the conversations going as they gathered their things. It had had been hard to tell them apart before, but now Bridget could see them individually. They ranged in heights with there being a large difference between the tallest and the shortest. All were clean shaven and three had black hair, one had blond and the others had brown. They seemed an unlikely group of friends, but clearly work had brought them together.

As they walked away, Bridget moved to the tables, but then stopped in disgust. The men had left their empty coffee cups and lunch remains. The crumpled fast food bags and cardboard containers littered the table. She turned away and caught the eyes of the woman who give her a smug look.

Bridget shuffled back to her spot against the wall, just about avoiding two teenage Chinese girls going into the coffee shop.

‘I’m sorry,’ the female announcer seemed to shout above all the noise,’ that the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train has been delayed due to a passenger taking ill at a previous station. It is now due in at two-fifty-five on platform three.’

The man huffed and muttered something that sounded like, ‘just typical.’

‘Next time let’s go via Piccadilly,’ the woman added.

Bridget sighed and looked over at the small pub next door to the coffee shop. There was one high table over there that was free. However, it would not give her a clear view and that was what she needed. As she thought about cleaning the table herself, an older woman with light blonde hair going grey walked up and started cleaning the rubbish away.

Missed my chance, Bridget sulked.

She took a sip of her latte, finding it cooler and watched the woman matching off to put everything into the bin. As she came back, Bridget saw she was actually a worker for the coffee shop. Feeling her luck finally changing, Bridget slide over and waited whilst the tables got wiped down and separated again.

‘Thanks,’ Bridget said as the cleaner walked by.

The woman nodded, smiling happily.

Bridget took the table closer to the fabric barrier that marked the coffee shop’s seating area. Placing her latte down, she pulled off her bag and placed it on the other chair. She took her headphones off her neck and iPod out of her pocket. Unzipping her bag, she put them in then felt the table top. Her fingers came back feeling slightly damp. Settling in, Bridget sipped more of her coffee and watched the flow of the train station.

 

To Be Continued…