Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Train Journey (Short Story)

The warmth of the day doesnt make my mood any better as I close the door quietly behind me and sigh at the thought of another day. The trees are in full bloom now, different coloured blossom covers them, the shaping of life being breathed back into them after the harshness of winter.

Traffic speeds past me as I walk slowly towards my destination, my head feels foggy and unclear, yet I know what I must do, I've known for weeks I just haven't had the courage to go through with it. I pass the newsagents where I've bought my paper for the last 10 years, a middle aged asian man stands behind the counter waiting for me to hand over my money as I pick up the latest tabloid trash. We've seen each other every day yet neither of us knows each others names, no more than a cordial 'thank you' has ever passed between us. It doesn't matter anymore as I won't be needing a paper after today anyway.

I place my oyster card on the yellow tap in on top of the barrier and wait for the gates to open before me. They act like the starting gate of a horse race as everyone races to get to their train. There are faces once again I recognise, the young blonde girl who spends her whole journey applying her make up, the grey haired man who reads The Times, the young black boy with his earphones in who drifts off to sleep on his way in every day. I see these people all the time but do they know what it is going through my head? Do they even care?.

I walk to the yellow painted line at the edge of the platform and look along the track to see if a train is coming. It's nearly time now, not much longer, the pain in my heart will soon be gone and I can end this constant misery that I am in. I've worn a special suit for the occasion, I had it cleaned over the weekend, my wedding suit, from a time when I was happier than I am now, a time when it all made sense.


She lifts her head from the pillow and looks to the right hand side of the bed. He's not there. She calls his name but he doesn't reply, she listens intently hoping that she will hear the clutter of cups in the kitchen as he prepares his breakfast but knowing deep down that she won't. He hasn't eaten breakfast for months now, it used to be a time they shared together but now? Well it's just something they don't do anymore.

She unhooks her pink towelling dressing gown from the door and wraps it around her body, pulling the belt tight around her waist. She crosses the hallway to the other bedroom and quietly opens the door. Three small bodies lay in different positions in their beds, the duvets with cartoon characters on them covering various parts of them, just enough though to keep them warm enough for sleep.

She walks slowly down the stairs and enters the kitchen, flicking the light switch as she reaches the side where the kettle will soon spring into life and boil the water for her morning coffee. She looks around the kitchen not quite sure what she is looking for but knowing something about today isn't quite right. She picks up a cup for her morning coffee. Her blood runs cold as she sees the neatly folded A4 piece of paper lent against the toaster with her name on it.


I watch as the platform gets busier and busier round me. People in suits, briefcases at the ready to be used as weapons to make sure they get that seat. Tradesmen with tool bags ready to counter act the threat of a well aimed briefcase held by their sides. Do these people not see the stupidity and banality of what they do every day? Do they gauge how successful their day will be by the amount of peope they can rudely shove out of the way in their quest for the holy grail of a cheap badly woven public transport seat? Is this what their lives have come to?

I used to enjoy travelling into work, I was never one for the daily seat battle I'll admit, but the thought of going to work and earning my money gave me a great sense of satisfaction. I wouldn't call myself a company man but I am loyal and enjoy the people I work with, that is to say I did. Until he came. New bosses arrive all the time, it's a fact of life and one I've got used to down the years. Execept he was different from the rest.

Young, no kids and motivated by money, he didn't care about past results it had to be done his way. He worked out your weaknesses quickly and applied the pressure to them every chance he got. The strong ones left quickly, he thought they were weak but they weren't, they had the courage to walk away, to go to places where they could be appreciated. Me? I wasn't that brave. The fear of change as I approached my 40's with young children to support and a loving wife meant I didn't want to take the risk.

I took all of the threats about my job, the thought of how I could lose it at any minute, the way I was used for their enjoyment at the after meeting drinks. Whilst others flocked around him, I stood back supping my pint quietly keeping myself to myself and was labelled a non-team player. The extra work that was sent my way, the snide comments and texts that I started to receive, implying that maybe my time was up with the company. I took it for months then against my better judgement I went to HR.


She nervously edged closer to the piece of paper with her name on it, her throat tightened, her breath came quicker and her hand began to shake as she held it in front of her trying to steady herself long enough to pluck up the courage to read it. He hadn't said a word last night, nothing, she had noticed he been quieter than usual but that wasn't that unusual lately. She knew something had been troubling him as he had been more argumentative with her, shouted at the kids all the time, it wasn't like him. She didn't pry though she just passed it off as a phase he was going through.

He wasn't perfect she knew wasn't going to say he was, to be honest who was?, but he was kind, loving and had been a great father to the kids, as well as being the love of her life. They had ups and downs like all married couples but these last few months he had, what? Been sleeping less? Eating less than usual? Seemed tense all the time?. Yes he had been all of these but she wasnt worried, not at first anyway. He had lost the spring in his step, the spontaneity of a romantic gesture, the scooping up of the kids in his arms when he came through the door. He had changed, he wouldn't talk about it, she knew he had problems at work, he had been there so long that the friends of the wives she made had mentioned a few times about it, but if he didn't want to talk about what could she do?.

She reached out tentatively for the folded paper, hoping it was a romantic note, but the knot in her stomach made her realize that it wasn't and she started to shiver as she slowly unfolded the note he had left her.


The biggest mistake I had made was going to HR. I thought they would listen to me, and to start with they did, but the problem with working for a family firm and your boss is the owners son is it all gets back to them. I had tried to talk it through with my wife but there was never the right moment, the kids, the bills, there was always something getting in the way. They would miss me I was sure of that, it hadn't been an easy decision to make, but I knew deep down I had to end the misery I was putting them through, the misery I was in. I was supposed to be strong for them, to wipe away their fears but I couldn't do it any more. I am a broken man.

I edged closer to the edge of platform, this would all be over soon. I looked at the electronic notice board, 1 minute until the next train, one minute until the end of all this misery and pain. I wondered whether it would be instant or whether I would survie?. I had planned it so carefully, watched the wheels and knew where I had to land to make sure it was all over as quickly as possible. I could hear the rumble of the wheels coming along the track and the little spark that the tracks gave as the electricity runs through them. I gripped my case tighter, took a deep breath and closed my eyes.


The coffee cup in her hand smashed as it hit the floor, she had seconds, minutes if she was lucky as she gripped the note tightly in her hand, her knuckles turning white as the blood stopped flowing through them. She thought she felt her heart stop as with her free hand she grabbed for her bag. Where the hell is that damn phone, panic gripping her as she flung the contents onto the floor.

She scanned the mess on the floor quickly, located her phone and started to ram the numbers into it, would she be too late?, it felt likes hours before the phone connected and started to ring, please don't go to voicemail, not now, not today, she held her breath as the phone continued too ring. How had she not noticed how bad he had felt, how had she not seen the signs, he had needed her and she hadn't been there, she felt like she had let him down and a tear fell from her eye.

The phone answered and she wondered if she would hear his voice or whether it would be a stranger to tell her she had been too late, she caught her breath and softly spoke into the handset.

"John I love you" tears were streaming down her face as she waited for a voice any voice to tell her he was okay

"I love you too" his voice almost inaudible over the sound of the train that was rushing past him.

"come home John" she pleaded tears dripping onto the handset her voice tightening as she fought for her breath.

"hello?" a different voice spoke to her now, one she didn't recognize and tinted with an accent.

"who is this?" she screamed into the handset her fears taking over that she had been too late

"My name is Victor, I work in the newsagaents, your husband is fine he's standing next to me, I'll bring him home, he's a little shaken but he's okay. I noticed something was wrong today so I followed him and grabbed him just in time. Can you tell me your address?"

Victor sounded calm and the softness of his voice reassured her, she told him her address, thanked him, then slumped to the floor as the floods of tears fell from her eyes.


  1. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this story. I liked the two points of view and of course the twist at the end.
    Keep up the good work.