Tuesday morning on the 10.25


Countryside as Seen from a Moving Train

 

“Are things any better with Jack, or still the same?”

“They’re still the same.  I’ve tried my hardest to find out what the problem is, but nothing I do makes any difference. I’m afraid I have just given up.”

As the two women take their seats across the aisle from me, I try not to stare. Their conversation has aroused my interest, set my imagination to work.

I wonder what on earth could be wrong with Jack and think up several different scenarios.  Is he ill? Perhaps he only has months to live and couldn’t bring himself to upset his wife and family. Or is he facing redundancy and feels depressed, wondering how the family will manage without his salary? Or has he found someone else?

I decide it must be the latter. It will explain the change in his attitude to his wife, the reason why she has given up.   He doesn’t really want to be with her but just can’t bring himself to end their relationship.  I imagine them in their semi-detached house with small manageable garden, they have a mortgage and three children; the youngest would not have been planned. They used to holiday abroad for two weeks each year, now they take one week and spend it in a caravan somewhere in the Devon, barely speaking to each other.

He met the woman who became his mistress at work.  She is tall and slim with a terrific personality, quite attractive with a great sense of humour. His wife was like her when they first married, he tells her, but now she is more interested in the children and her family than him.

The train races along and I am tempted to take out my notebook, but it is in my bag on the luggage rack and I am unwilling to cause a disturbance. I resist the temptation. I make a mental note to always make sure the notebook is in my handbag. The conversation between the two women is spasmodic, their voices low.  I find it hard to hear anything further without making a fool of myself.

As the train enters a long tunnel, I have the opportunity to study their reflection in my window.  Although a slightly distorted view, I see two women in early middle age; the one who had asked the question seems the younger of the two and is now reading a magazine.  The other woman, the “wife”, is half-heartedly nibbling on a sandwich, staring into space.

Small stations flash past. The train will only make three stops before reaching London. I find that I feel sorry for the wife, she probably has done nothing other than carry on as she always has.  Perhaps she too longs for more; a more interesting life, a more attentive husband, but feels it’s too late to do anything about it.  She is just resigned to things the way they are, getting on with the mundane tasks life has handed her; a home to run, a husband and children to care for.

I decide that she looks like a ‘Susan’ and her friend is called ‘Louise’.  I am busy creating lives for them and their families when the train pulls into Paddington. I gather my bag quickly from the rack and follow the two women from the train.

“There they are” calls Louise, pulling Susan’s arm and hurrying her along.

They walk towards two young women, waiting by the coffee shop.

“Where’s your dad?” asks Susan sounding worried.

So, Jack hasn’t even bothered to come to the station. I feel sad for her; she is still hoping for a change of heart, while he obviously just doesn’t care anymore.

Suddenly there is a commotion and out of the crowd a man comes running, being pulled along by a very excitable West highland terrier.

“Oh Jack” Susan cries  stooping down to grab the dog, who is  trying his best to jump up to her, “you’re back to your old self.  I was so worried we were going to lose you.”

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I feel more comfortable writing ‘memoir’ pieces and would welcome your feedback if you have the time.

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14 thoughts on “Tuesday morning on the 10.25

  1. “…but it is in my bag on the luggage rack and unwilling to cause a disturbance” (comma) and I am unwilling…

    “mistress, at work” no comma

    The other woman, the “wife” is half-heartedly (comma after “wife”)

    Small stations flash past, the train will only make three stops before reaching London. either conjunction between comma and the, or period instead of comma

    I find that I feel sorry for the ‘wife’; she probably… why single quotes around wife? should be either double quotes or none necessary.

    too many semicolons
    ______________________

    i enjoyed the style of narration, reminded me of a lot of short fiction i’ve read in “the new yorker.” i knew that by the end it would not be what the narrator was thinking, but of course i did not know what it actually was going to be.

    the ending is almost disappointing – but not really – only because the drama set up by the wondering was more interesting than the truth. but to say it’s disappointing is of course selfish and unfair.

    what would make it a little better for me would be that the narrator steps along a little further, overhears something else, and continues with another “wondering” about another situation.

    or

    the narrator then begins to think about his/her own life, and there is a similar situation to the one he/she is imagining for susan. it would show where his/her “wonderings” had originated. or, the narrator then meets his own mistress, which also lets us know the origin.

    it’s good, and i’m glad i read it, but it could be a little more powerful with something a little further about the narrator. but again – that’s me being selfish.

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    • Rich, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it.

      I usually manage to get hung up with punctuation. I think I will revise the piece with your suggestions.

      There was one draft where I enlarged on the reason the narrator thinks the husband is having an affair, but that seemed to take on a life of its own and I worried that the story would end up being too long.

      Thank you again, feedback like this is really good to have.

      Dee

      Like

      • too long? no no no. i thought the story was too short. i would love to read the longer piece. maybe you’ve got the friday fictioneers in mind and that’s why you were worried about it being too long. consider noting where the story ends now and then adding the extended ending.

        here’s what i’ve learned about story length on a blog – if it’s good, people will keep reading. they will want it to keep going.

        as for the punctuation issues, i should have added that because of the narration style, the punctuation rules shouldn’t matter as much. the story was told in short observations, very intermittent, like stop-and-go thoughts. so it’s okay that sentences were interrupted differently because the narrators thoughts were interrupted.

        thanks for lettingme know it was there to read. much appreciated.

        Like

      • I think you may have something with the FF link, I notice that I tend to be conscious of word count more since joining that 100 word challenge. I’m also impatient to see the finished piece which is not good as I sometimes rush to bring things to a close instead of taking my time and letting the story unfold. On a good note my confidence in my writing is improving, I would never have dreamed of asking you to read my work before.
        Thank you

        Like

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