A Girl on the Train.Short Story by James McEwan

On my journey by train into Glasgow yesterday I was reminded how anonymous we are to other passengers and seemingly invisible -unless they try and sit on your lap. We become strangers thrown together for a short period – and we sit in silence. Or do we?

I tried to capture this in a short story I wrote sometime ago where the interaction of sounds, furtive glances and seemingly disinterest is a cover for our instinctive curiosity.

Tell me what you think, can you envisage this situation?

On Camera Nov 2014 128

A Girl on the Train.

(She Blew Me A Kiss.)

 

The girl rushed into the train compartment and she dropped into the seat diagonally opposite me, to my right by the window. Seemingly agitated, she looked out and down the platform as if searching for a friend or relative, who perhaps might wave. But no one was there. Rapid beeps preceded the closing of the doors and the train smoothly moved off.

Her red hair was tied in a ponytail. Freckles dotted around her nose, her cheeks were clear and soft. She wore a white blouse underneath a tight tweed jacket, a short skirt and her faint green tights stretched down her legs into the ankle boots that matched the light tan of her satchel. Early twenties.

A woman directly opposite from me shook her Hello magazine and we exchanged glances.

I returned my attention to the crossword. Four down, the colour of jealousy, five letters. Green and isn’t that also the colour of envy?

An increasing volume of a ring tone from a mobile telephone had the girl rummaging in her satchel. I looked up. The woman opposite lowered her magazine, tightened her lips and shook her head at me as she glared over her glasses. I tried to ignore her and returned to the crossword.

Six across, slight discomfort in the organs. Ten letters, try irritation.

The girl placed a notebook on the seat, before retrieving her telephone from the bag.

‘Where are you?’ She spoke into her mobile.

The woman opposite rustled her magazine to a new page and turned sideways.

‘Well get the next one.’

I stared at my crossword. What kind of boyfriend misses meeting this girl, with bright blue eyes? Seven down, an inferior assistant, three letters. Slave, no that’s five, try cad.

‘Carol, you always say that.’

Not a boyfriend then, perhaps it was just a friend with a lame excuse, and who had probably slept in.

‘No its Ok, I can wait in Starbucks, you owe me.’

The woman opposite stared through her glasses at me. Well don’t listen I telepathically glared back and clearly you should avoid Starbucks.

‘He did what?’ The girl stamped a foot on the floor. ‘Oh Carol he didn’t. … He did.’

The woman took a deep breath and lifted her hand to cover an ear. Perhaps she doesn’t want to know what he did. I do.

Three down, something rare or unusual, nine letters. A curiosity. What was it he did?

‘But, is he coming with us? … He is.’ The girl stamped her foot again.

The woman folded her magazine and shifted in her seat, she crossed over a leg and accidentally kicked me. Ouch that hurt, I telepathically smiled at her and rubbed my shin.

‘I’m going to ask Mark along, if that’s Ok?’ The girl continued on her mobile and looked at me.

The woman opposite mouthed sorry.

‘No harm done.’ I said and return to my crossword.

‘What do you mean?’ The girl continued her conversation. She glanced at the woman and then stared across at me. She shifted the mobile to her other ear and turned to look out of the train window. ‘But Carol he’s good looking and …’

Eight down, having no choice eleven letters. Involuntary, now that’s an interesting word.

I watched the girl’s reflection flicker in the window where her face appeared contorted by the diffractions of light and passing background.

‘No no Carol … Mark said what?’ The girl stomped both feet.

Oh dear, what did he say? Perhaps Mark is too good looking or perhaps he is a two timing selfish sort. The woman turned a page in her magazine and a picture, of George Clooney with a beautiful woman in an evening dress, smiled at me. Oh how the celebrities live their lives.

‘I never want to speak to him again.’ The girl hugged the satchel resting on her knees.

So many times I’ve heard that before. Nine across intended to mislead, six letters. Deceit, yes we all fall for the same old excuses.

She started to laugh. ‘I know … you should have seen him.’

So clearly he made a fool of himself, somewhere.

‘I know what an idiot.’

So you’re better off without him, he can’t be trusted and you’ll find someone else. Twenty-four down, influenced by proximity, ten letters. Attraction, what does she find attractive?

The girl looked at me. ‘Who should I invite?’ She said into the mobile.

Why not me? I smiled.

Next clue: four across, an impractical person, and eight letters. Idealist.

‘No Carol, he’s too old for me.’ She looked out of the window.

She’s noticed me, but surely we could try. The woman turned over another page of her magazine and I saw Michael Douglas with Catherine Zeta-Jones holding hands. It works for some.

‘I don’t care, I am not going to ask him.’

She has no sense of adventure, I am sure if she got to know me, we’d be a perfect match.

‘That’s what you think.’ She spoke into her mobile and looked at me. ‘I’ll tell you later … later I said.’

The train announcement called out, ‘the next station is Central Low Level.’

In a connecting glance with the girl I instinctively felt a mutual desire and a perception of more to come.

‘No way,’ she said. ‘I’ll meet you in Starbucks, bye … bye.’ She returned her mobile telephone into her satchel.

Sixteen down inspired with foolish passion, ten letters. It can only be infatuated.

The girl shouldered her satchel and left the train. Rapid beeps preceded the closing of the doors and the train started to move off.

Someone knocked on the window from the outside. It was the girl. She frantically pointed at the seat where she had left her notebook. I grabbed hold of it. The top window was jammed and I rushed to the next compartment. The girl was running along side the train and I threw the book out to her. She picked it up, smiled, waved and then she blew me a kiss.

‘Oh really,’ the woman said as I returned to my seat. She shook her magazine to a new page. Renée Zellweger was smiling at me from a picture, as if she knew why the girl blew me a kiss.

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5 responses to “A Girl on the Train.Short Story by James McEwan

  1. This is such a engaging story that flows so well. I can definitely imagine a situation like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely delightful story, James! I pictured every moment of that ride. Best, June

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very well constructed and was enthralled throughout. The scene was very visible and the ending just about perfect. Good luck with the novel, it’s a great buzz to see em out there in the big wide world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The use of the crossword puzzle is really clever and strings this story together beautifully. Is this from our Shortbread days James? It has a sense of familiarity for me – but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of it. The observations are smartly observed, particularly of the disgruntled female passenger.

    It’s been quite a while since I used public transport – great strides are being made in many areas here in South Africa but that aspect still falls woefully short – but this took me back to my London and Cardiff commute days and the brief shared moments with strangers. So in answer to your question, yes, I can envisage this situation and you’ve done a good job of capturing the fleeting sense of possibility.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Nik, thanks for coming back with a comment on this. Yes it is one of my early days stories, one that I enjoyed writing at the time. Presently I am knocking around some ideas for a novel. Woh! It is something I want to achieve and always feel inspired when I see Diane publish yet another one. I must make more time for writing, something you will appreciate with a young family. I have no excuses as my girls have flown so to speak. Regards.

      Liked by 1 person

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