The Girl on the Train

This was written half inspired by a daily commute and half by random thoughts of escaping from the daily grind. 

The electric doors hummed open and a blast of fresh air hit her in the face and she really believed for a moment that she might step off the train. She believed that she was ready to face the truth. The platform was grey, the skyline was grey, the buildings were grey– it was suffocating. Her head spun and she grasped the door frame trying to breathe, but the greyness was cloying. She heard the tutting and sighing in the distance as she blocked the exit with her bag in her hand.

People jostled past to get off and then to get on in the other direction. The doors hummed shut, protecting her from the greyness. The train was her safe place now. The platforms and stations started moving past the windows harmlessly, in their straight lines. They couldn’t get to her now. Mechanically she returned to her seat and clutched her bag on her lap. She sat bolt upright in her seat, staring at a spot of toothpaste on the man’s tie opposite. Keep breathing, she told herself. In and out, in time with the rhythm of the train. Focus on the spot to keep your balance. She felt like she was sitting on a fast moving tightrope and a slight lean in either direction would be fatal.

She sat stock still and weighed her options. Her journey had been so easy from the kitchen table this morning.

She started building the blocks up in her head again – endless justification of what she was doing. A new wall…not the same one as when she’d got on the train this morning full of good intentions. She’d missed her stop. She needed to justify it. She needed reassurance. It wasn’t the right time. She should send an email first, make an appointment. She couldn’t just turn up bag in hand. They were bound to be out anyway, so it would be a wasted journey. The blocks were starting to fall in place. She saw the train map above the man’s head and read the station names over and over in her head, like a mantra.

Outside grey turned greyer as the train careered on into the black city centre. How appropriate – it was raining. Just a damp drizzle. It suited her soul. Platforms rushed by without stopping. People stared miserably through the window into the warm train, willing it to stop and rescue them. The fluorescent lights and the warmth of the train was not just her safety zone – it was becoming her life line. What would happen when she reached the end of the line? It loomed up in front of her like a brick wall that she was hurtling towards. She started building the bricks again. Next move. Next brick on the wall.

She would have to get off the train eventually. Money – tick. Credit card – tick. Bag with change of clothes – tick. She wasn’t an eight year old girl walking to the end of the street with a back pack and a teddy bear. She was an independent woman. Job – tick. A living – tick. Family – . No block for that. Her wall started swaying again. She started reciting her mantra of train stations.

The toothpaste man opposite had been replaced by a wax coiffed suit-man talking on his phone. She heard white noise. Other passengers were glaring at him. She focussed on his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down as he talked. She noticed that his lips moved in time with the train. The woman next to him brushed her skirt down in time with the train. The stations ran through her brain in time with the train. It was soothing to feel like she was in sync with the world around her. It made her feel connected.

She needed to plan her next step. The last plan hadn’t worked very well. She would start again. That was the past now. A fresh start was what was required. The train was taking her to her future – it was like a whole month’s worth of therapy happening on the train. She should see where it took her. There was obviously a reason why she didn’t get off the train at her stop.

Plans were her forte. She liked detail and planned every second of the day. Executing the plans was slightly more difficult. Life seemed to get in the way. Her journey this morning had started according to her plan. Her plan had been to step confidently from the train and glide up the platform looking ever so elegant. The sun would be shining. Her hair and outfit would be immaculate. People would stare as she walked by and be impressed. A taxi would be waiting by the station exit to take her to her destination and… That was the past now though. It wasn’t part of the plan any longer.

She re-read the station list. She would get off at the end of the line and change to the Northern Line. The Northern Line would take her to Kings Cross and from there a train north as far as she could get. North was a good direction. She’d never been further north than Watford before. North was in a straight line and felt organised. She had a plan. She would go North. North was up. Up meant progress. You couldn’t just stay the same forever. The North would welcome her as a newcomer. They would love her quirky southern ways and her accent. She would find a castle to live in and a kilt-wearing laird to protect her. The plan was getting there. She started to relax. She was right to have stayed on the train. This was her future now.

Story Cubes

What are the odds of being able to be inspired indefinitely?  Pretty slim I would say.  Recently I was given this brilliant “toy”.  I say toy, but it’s not going anywhere near my child just yet!  Story cubes are basically dice with pictures on – you throw them and make up a story from the pictures showing.  The possibilities are great!
Here are some of my throws:
Story cubes

Story cubes


Story cubes

Story cubes

Story cubes

Story cubes

What story would you come up with? 

A Macabre Writing Challenge

On my Writer’s HQ course that I’m currently doing, there is a recurring theme of “just get writing”.   So I revisited my lovely Writing Challenge app which does exactly the same thing, and here’s what came out this time.  

It’s slightly macabre – I wonder what is going on in my head sometimes! I suppose this is what happens when you switch off the planning and switch on the writing. Continue reading

The Boy and his Bass

The boy and his bass 

I wrote this after a gig – it struck me that musicians have a special relationship with their instruments.

He held her in a loving embrace.  She was taller than him by a good few inches and leant back into his shoulder nestling into his neck.  They curled elegantly around each other.  He tweaked and played with her, stroked her neck, slapped her side.  The crowd were transfixed.  They felt like they had stumbled upon an intimate moment.  The rest of the musicians were oblivious – they each had their own love affairs going on.   The beat picked up and the slapping continued.  The audience roared its approval.

Musicians and their instruments

Musicians and their instruments

As the set carried on the music rocked and rolled and rocked again to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.  The boy leant in close to his double bass in the slow numbers and murmured into her neck and flung her out with a spin when the beat quickened.

The finale saw a majestic pirouette then as quickly as the boy had been to stroke and caress his bass, he let her go and lay her down on the sticky pub floor. 

The boy’s girlfriend came up to help clear up.  She held the double bass’s cover up to throw over its’ head.  The boy took it from her hands, kissed his girl on the cheek and said, “I’ll do that,” and lovingly tucked his bass away. 

His girl stepped aside and just stared at them.  Her eyes gleamed in the stage lights.  As the boy zipped up the bass’s case his girlfriend glared.  She felt jealousy bubbling up inside her.

The boy put his arms around her and whispered in her ear.  “Thanks for coming tonight.”  She smiled and de-clenched a fraction – there were some things she could do which his double bass couldn’t.  Her smile froze.  He let go of her and picked up his bass to carry in both arms. 

She frowned again. The three of them left together.

The Skeleton Danced at Midnight

The Skeleton Danced at Midnight

This is another writing challenge which I started for the Daily Post and has ended up being a slightly spooky image of a fairground.  I have always found fairgrounds and circuses to be rather odd and intriguing places. 
The challenge was to use five nouns from the following list:  The lake. The night. The crickets. The ravine. The attic. The basement. The trapdoor. The baby. The crowd. The night train. The fog horn. The scythe. The carnival. The carousel. The dwarf. The mirror maze. The skeleton.  

The skeleton danced at midnight with the melody of the carousel reverberating through his hollow bones.  He yearned to touch the carnival animals again and jest with the dwarves.  His life of skin and flesh had been full of colour, light and music and how had he loved it!

Skeleton Danced at Midnight

Skeleton Danced at Midnight

The crowds spun through the circus screaming with laughter and candy-floss induced mania.  It was a sugar-spun world.  The fat lady solemnly ate her way through fifteen courses; the bearded lady combed her hair and the iron man lifted trucks to practice his art.  Animals preened in their cages and the big top shone like a beacon in the night sky.

The carousel had been his creation with the pretty horses with their painted tails flying.  How he loved their graceful motion.  Up and down and round and round.  They never stopped their flight until that fateful day when he lost his footing and fell under the painted horses’ hooves.  He lost his flesh to the carousel but honoured it with his bones.