A study with flowers
Heard on the train.
The passion of the lily.
On the train. Crowded. Seat by the window. Next to me a giggling young woman fuelled by the wandering hands of her boyfriend.
Reflected in the glass a dark haired woman sitting across the aisle passing her hands through her short curly locks. She checks her image, meets my gaze, pauses, frozen her and her twinned, then looks away, turns to the child beside her, her daughter I presume.
He – I lived in London a while back.
She – Then you woke up.
He – We all have to. I did have dreams. (mimics a whining voice) I wanted the bright lights, I did, wanted to be a star, red carpet treatment, name up in lights…
She (hitting him on the thigh) – Shut up! Stop it!
He (laughing nervously) – Light Street….Might Street……Night Street.
She (sighing) – James…Let it go…Just so.
The train lights flicker, the carriage darkens. The hiss of the sucking walls outside seeps inside.
Daughter (turning to her mother) – Is this a tunnel, mummy? Why are we going through a tunnel?
Woman – Because we have to get to where we’re going.
Daughter – But why?
Woman – The train would just stop otherwise. It wouldn’t move from here…
Daughter – So we’d never get there then?
Woman – That’s right, (her voice drops, then gently) never get there.
Daughter (standing on the seat as the train exits the tunnel) – Look, there’s daddy’s church! (excited, turning to her mother) Do you think he’ll wave, mummy? Wave mummy! I think he can see us!
Woman – Sit down, darling. The train’s going to stop. There’s going to a bump. You might fall down.
Daughter – Don’t you want to see daddy?
Woman- We have to go now. Come off down from the seat. Let’s go.
Daughter – We haven’t stopped yet, mummy.
(The train stops with a jolt. The doors slide open. The woman gets up, pulls the girl with her. She has a baby pushchair with her – right hand holding the daughter, left the pushchair. She struggles to manoeuvre both off the train. The doors close and she lets out a scream.)
Woman – God! God!
Daughter (tugging at her mother’s hand) – Mummy, I want to see daddy.
Mother (pressing the buttons on the door panel, muttering) – Open, open, damn you. (then to no one in particular) How does this bloody door open?
Daughter – Mummy (whimpering now). Mummy. Let’s go and see daddy. He’ll help.
Mother – Will you stop going on about daddy! (she is crying. She turns to the door) Open, blast you! Open! (the doors open with a loud hiss) Jenny, come on, come on. (she pulls the girl behind her and starts to walk rapidly towards the exit. The pushchair – a passionate wrap of lilies, a card with a child’s drawing of a heart cellotaped to it, hanging from the bar – is still on the train, which begins to move away from the platform gathering speed.)
This is a bit Hemingway-ish. This sad little vignette would make a short play. Maybe you should try it in script form.
It’s a good exercise, I tried it, but it’s hard for people to read unless they are actors (I’m not)
That happened to me once, but it was my travelling bag with my passport and wallet in it. Got it back intact on the next returning train thanks to the efficiency of the Belgian railway guys.
I was experimenting because I have a scene in the Death Refracted where I use this structure.
I will try scripting this into a play.
This was a sad experience and I was left wondering about the father, whether he was the vicar, but more likely dead and they were visiting his grave.
Good observations, Bhi!
Eavesdropped bite-sized slices of life can be interesting and disappointing in equal measures as we’ll probably never know the true back-story or result. A bit like watching a movie with the volume turned down. All good inspirations for a story though.
Thanks for dropping by, Steve.
This was all about observing without colouring, letting the reader fill in the blanks if they wanted to. A bit of experimentation in structure and form for other stories. But it is the seed for a longer story I’ve in mind.
Excellent! It’s quite engaging from the very first line, but did the narrator also alight, how’s the narrator seeing the mother and the child. Where’s the narrator?
Thanks for reading and the feedback. As I said to Steve, this was more about just observing; the observer is recording a moment without a commentary. It’s like taking a photograph; sure you need a setting, but the emotion and interpretation is left to the one who will look at the picture down the line.
Perfect. I get it.
THis was very engaging. Found stories are great. I had a little trouble with the phrase “frozen her and her twinned”. Wasn’t sure if it was tense slip.
CW, This comment got lost in the ether – just came onto it today.
That frozen phrase was me attempting to capture the two images of the woman; one in the window next to me, and the other in hers. I’ll play around with the text here and see if I can come up with something better.
the father is alive and well but this is a real loop from their future, one day he won’t be alive, one day soon perhaps I have felt a strong connection with trains in general, the Dickens railway accident, Tay Bridge disaster, the movie the Cassandra’s crossing, the short story the Signal Man by Dickens, a few things that have to do with my own childhood nightmares all this affected me tremendously and I’m a sucker for stories that have to do with trains. of course the writing followed. the only thing that perhaps you need to edit a bit… Read more »
I was left wondering about the father. Who were the flowers meant for? Did i reflexibly associate the church with death and the flowers to be left at his graveside. Yet the girl is talking as if the father is still alive, and the woman doesn’t want to hear any more about him.
I’ll look at the frozen bit again – brain is still jumpstarting this morning.