Train rails.

#300DaysofFlashWriting: Day 20 story on ‘Train journey’

Here’s another piece for the #300DaysofFlashWriting challenge, where participants write for ten minutes only on a prompt posted online by my friend Shekina on her blog and social channels. This was written from the Day 20 prompt, ‘Train journey’, partly inspired by certain events in the news this week.

This Saturday Night

She walks down the near-empty carriage towards the toilet, lights speeding past in the pitch black of this Saturday night. The train is going to Manchester and she has had three double vodka and cokes (which doesn’t matter). Sometimes she has to reach out to steady herself by grabbing the tops of the seats near her. She is travelling on her own (which doesn’t matter).

Her mind is elsewhere. She is still in Blackpool where she has just left her boyfriend to make his own tipsy journey back home in the opposite direction. This is what they do: she goes to Blackpool for the day, or he comes to Manchester for the day. They go to the cinema and a restaurant and around multiple pubs, intoxicated on each other. Then they part ways like the dirty tide ebbing away from Blackpool beach and spend the next six days working and sleeping and arguing with their families, before coming together again the following Saturday.

She is so occupied with these thoughts, with the memory of his lips and his hand in hers, that she jumps when she feels a hand running lightly down the back of her leg. She is wearing a minidress, a short jacket and thin tights with ballet pumps (which doesn’t matter). A recent nightmare of a giant spider crawling down her back shoves itself into her mind, and she shivers. She pulls her leg away and turns to look at the table of four twenty-something men, empty cans standing between them.

The man whose hand it is speaks to her. “Alright, love? Nice legs.” His friends laugh. 

She quickly glances at his friends – no help to be had there – and gives him a dirty look. “No, not really. What do you think you’re doing touching me?”

He smirks. He smells like the greasy men who prey on women in cheap pubs: too much aftershave, hair gel, a metallic note of arrogance. She should be scared, but she isn’t (which doesn’t matter). She thinks she’s got the measure of him. Of men like him.

She waits for his answer, but he keeps looking at her. His friends keep laughing. She snorts and carries on down the carriage, suffused with anger and something like shame.

He is waiting for her when she comes out of the toilet armed with a determination to complain to the train guard. She can see a light sheen of sweat on his forehead, and he wobbles with the train despite having one hand on the wall. It is obvious that he is drunk (which doesn’t matter). 

*

She tells her boyfriend that she is too ill to see him the following weekend.

*

When she finally gets up the courage to go to the police two weeks later, they ask her about all of the things that don’t matter, and refuse to listen to her about the things that do.

© 2021 Dipika Mummery

Image by Hands off my tags! Michael Gaida from Pixabay

See all of my pieces for #300DaysofFlashWriting.

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