Sunday 2nd November

What a brilliant start yesterday; thank-you for your support and enthusiasm. Here's the second prompt of the month:


2

The railway station is haunted by the mother of a baby snatched from there in 1955. As the train pulls in, listen hard. In the sound of the brakes, crying.

45 comments:

  1. He watched as his son wiped his sticky hand in his light blue t-shirt.
    “Oy, cowboy, what do you think you’re doing? You’ll be like a lollipop.”
    The boy looked at him with a lack of understanding. The man was trying to tuck the kid’s t-shirt into his shorts with one hand while holding an ice-cream in the other, when the boy squealed, “Look, dad, a train!”
    He looked up and saw a train on the bridge above.
    “Let’s go watch it.”
    “We can watch it from here.”
    The face puckered into a threatening grimace.
    “All right, let’s go.”
    They walked under the archway and into the relieving shade of the old railway station.
    “How many carriages are there?” the man asked.
    The boy forgot about his ice-cream as he pointed at each carriage and counted aloud. The ice-cream snaked down his hand and pooled at his sandaled feet only to vanish on someone’s sole.
    “Three, four …”
    People poured from the train and swamped the station like swarming locusts.
    “Maybe mom came with the train,” the boy said, rocking on the balls of his feet, craning his neck to catch a sight of his mother’s face.
    The father straightened up and winced. For a few seconds he paused, trying to find words to express what could not be expressed in words.
    “No, she won’t,” he said harshly, then caressed the boy’s head gently.
    “Maybe she’s on the next train,” his son continued unperturbed.
    The man crouched down to the boy. “I told you, David. Mommy isn’t coming back.”
    His son stared at him with huge eyes, shining with clear tears.
    “It’s just you and me. I’m sorry.”
    His hand trembled as he grabbed the small palm and lead the boy from the cosy shade and out into the sun.

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  2. Lost love sobs in the sound of the train drawing out of the station, people left on the platform gaze into the distance, searching for some hope for the future

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  3. The ghost train terrified me as a child - not the sounds and fake cobweb strings but the certainty that I would never emerge. I wish I’d tried it now.

    Brian Clegg brian@brianclegg.net

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  4. There’s a ghost of love in the marriage, a ghost of passion in the love. In her baby’s face, the ghosts of relatives and forgotten ancestors, they appear and disappear.

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  5. Agatha Christie's Orient Express.
    Hitler's death trains to Dachau, Auschwitz...
    The Bombay Express passing
    Through Bhatinda in 1947.
    The Madrid train bombings.
    All the loved ones,
    Reunited at the platform.

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  6. Dabber watches. He waits, leaning against the curve behind the chocolate machine. He looks casual. That is the plan. Here he is shielded from the camera.

    Between trains it’s quiet down here. Normally his gangster mantra is blasting from his ipod, but for a time, he needs to be aware of everything around him. He tried to replay some in his head, but gave up. Humming “I’m gonna break ya head, break ya head, I’m gonna smack it on the wall,” didn’t work in the churchlike silence.

    Quiet. The mice scamper between the rails. “Poor like church mice – don’t think so.” These have all the discarded sandwiches thrown by the suits.

    His eyeballs itch, his mind screams - get me a fix. His hand tightens around the blade. He wasn’t going to talk. Not this time. The suit was going down and Dabber was taking everything. Watch, wallet and computer. It’s the suits fault. He should have stayed with the herd. Like beast on the prairie, the one on the edge gets eaten.

    Footsteps. Bloated and pale. He’s weak and soft. He’s not going to trouble a street warrior like Dabber. Now he’s going to bleed.

    Dabber pulls his ski mask and hood forwards. The camera can see his shape – but not who he is. He whispers to himself, “Hey Ma I’m going to be on TV.”

    As he moves close, a weird looking bitch steps between him and the suit. Her eyes spit menace. He swipes his knife at her throat. It takes a lot to rip a throat and meeting nothing, he spins off balance over the edge.

    As the train speeds over his torso, the walls echo a staccato beat – “No other mother will be losing a son - no other mother will be losing a son”.

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  7. In 1955, Dame Edna of the lilac hair first waved her gladioli in the Land of Oz. Fifty-five years later the flowers had become extinct. You’d better believe it, Possums!

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  8. EDWARD WAITS BY THE FLOWERS

    He remembers something. The smells perhaps. Of oil and cigarettes. Stale piss and flowers. There is still a flower stand, you see. Buckets of daffodils and cellophane-wrapped forced roses and carnations in too-bright pinks and yellows and reds.

    Stand by the flowers, Edward. Till I come back. Do you understand?

    And the child-Edward had understood. Had done as he was told. Had waited.

    There’s a clock hangs in the station, face as big as the sun, the movement of the twin black hands making time’s passing audible. He remembers that. Recalls watching the slow ticking off of all those minutes, the minutes he stood hopping from one foot to another. And singing so his mind was not on wanting to go pee.

    Then a woman kneeling beside him. Speaking soft and smiling and asking for his name. And he made a gift of it to her.

    And are you lost, she said. Alone? Waiting for someone?

    Edward remembers the hot sting of his boy-tears then. No words coming to his rescue. And looking over the lady’s shoulder, over his own, to see if she was coming. His first mother, not this counterfeit mom who took his hand in hers and led him out of the station and into a waiting car.

    Edward grown now. Clutching a copy of the Times and waiting, like before, by the flowers. The clock still counting off the minutes, till she comes. And she will come this time. Maybe did before.

    A sudden train pulls in. Her train could be. He cranes his neck to see. Strains to hear. In the sound of the brakes, crying. His and hers, as she steps down from the carriage, steps back in time, steps back into Edward’s life. They are strangers and Edward is singing through his tears.

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  9. Disembodied voices, urgent whistles, slamming doors. Reunited families, hurried travellers, separated lovers. Steamy smoke, sweaty bodies, smelly cafe. Nothing escaped her frantic search: all evaded her. Everything fades. Nothing remains.

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  10. Gillian relaxed, letting the blood trickle down her throat and remembering her first kill. The woman with the baby had been an easy target. Alone on the platform and waiting for the last train to Paddington, she’d fed the brat until he sank into a fitful sleep. The porter had retreated to his warm booth where a flask of cocoa and a bacon buttie awaited his attention, along with a single bar electric fire and ‘A Book At Bedtime’ after the shipping forecast.

    She’d never learned the mother’s name. She hadn’t needed to. Feeding the baby had left her exhausted and she’d dozed until the noise and steam on the 11:22 had woken her with the tank of oil and shriek of the whistle. She’d reached down automatically to the Moses basket and stood, not registering the horrifying lightness of her burden for several steps, her face melting into a pool of despair as she dug through the blankets, desperate to find her missing son.

    Gillian had watched every moment, savouring the despair, the beating heart of the child in her arms an intoxicating rhythm. Her teeth lengthened for the bite, spattering the child’s face with saliva. It drew a breath to cry, but before it could utter the firs sibilant wail Gillian had broken its neck, wasting the fresh blood.

    Disgusted with herself she had dumped the body in one of the broken tombs of St Marple’s Church, leaving it to rot and not caring if it was ever found.

    Her eyes flickered open. Was the child still there, she wondered. Fifty years was a long time and her outlook had changed significantly since then. Perhaps it was time the bones were given a decent burial and if she were swift, she could reunited the mother and the child.

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  11. Fear grips for horror
    of female infanticide,
    she,ensconces though
    lifeless for lost child,
    heavy jostle and bustle
    in the railway platform,
    live with commuters,
    emotions vie with
    wheeling brakes.

    Radhamani sarma

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  12. Not the strident ululations of the Stationmaster’s whistle, nor steam condensing cold against her cheek, just those starfish hands pressing the carriage window, so hard their tiny palms shone white.

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  13. She parked the pram outside, kissed him once and scuttled indoors to wait. Finally she saw them arrive. They stuffed him into a shopping bag.

    Now she'd sleep at nights.

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  15. She returns every year to search the platform, the waiting room, the tracks. Should you see her look away, for the desperation in her eyes will haunt your soul forever.

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  16. A shout from the wrong side of the tracks ignored. The masses frown, heads down, hope for their light in the tunnel. A step too far: another day, another breakdown.

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  17. As they pass through the stations, there is an impregnable commonality. Each one is furnished with a sign, streaking banner-like, looking as if it should flap in the wind and creak with loneliness. The windows of the carriage are brown but if you look closely they are speckles joined together. She wonders what the speckles consist of. Hidden filth?

    It's beginning to get dark. The lights in the carriage are making it a little more difficult to watch outside but she becomes aware of a man sitting opposite. There is a moment of embarrassment as each realises that the other is returning their gaze. She wonders what he has been able to tell by looking at her. Or if her facial expressions have altered throughout the journey. Had she flinched when they passed her secondary school where she'd had her first bra pinged from behind in assembly? Did she look disillusioned when they went under the bridge, the one she had been told not to cross over when a train was coming otherwise she would have bad luck forever? Did she smile when she thought about the school trip when a whole class had to run through the carriages under orders from the teacher because they'd got on the wrong end of the train and it was a short platform? Had she blushed when she remembered a conversation with an archbishop visiting from America who's asked her if she was a Christian and she'd thought he'd wanted to know if her colleague was her partner and her vehement denial shocked him into silence and by the time it had sunk in what had really been asking, it was too late and he was getting off to go to Lambeth Palace? There's a good reason why the British are reserved.

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  18. He lays cooing, dwarfed in the Silver Cross. She watches the doves nest building in the station eaves and is distracted, just for a moment, by memories of unborn children.

    Jacqueline Smith

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  19. Drinking champagne at the bar in Paddington Station is the new spectator sport. It's length is 95 meters and necessitates it's staff to be well-exercised and of athletic build.

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  20. I gave up eating ghosts on doctor's orders but still I crave that taste of sodden blotting paper. These days I keep them in a matchbox and nibble butterflies instead.

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  21. Howling, haunting hissing sounds. How could this have happened to them? Whispering, weeping, wailing. What will finally bring an end to this misery? She checks his room again. Still gone.

    gina
    gngbenson@gmail.com

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  23. He remembered the prickly heat of the day, how they raced across the tracks, the image of the young boy stooping to pick their silver coins. And afterwards, the silence.

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  25. Waiting for the 7.12 train after another sleepless night, for the first time I heard the sobbing mother in the wailing brakes. Yet again it hit me -- I'm a father.

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  26. Her name is Sacha
    she is their first
    born, dark eyed, perpetual
    traveller, in each step
    she lives, with each journey
    is lifted, like blue breath
    touches a morning sun.

    echulme@hotmail.com

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  28. Don’t look back, or suddenly
    the valley which once
    held you in its lap
    will fill with houses
    like a crowd of unknown faces
    and traffic will moan,
    windows weep.

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  29. She always travels alone. First-class, without a ticket. No one checks. An insidious chill occupies the carriage. The rhythm of wheels on tracks replaces the beating of her cold heart.

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  30. "The next train approaching platform 3 is the 08.49 to 1955.”
    I kiss my granddaughter on the cheek and bid her bon voyage. How far we’ve come since the Eurostar.

    missec99@yahoo.com

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  31. Here comes the midland express arriving with a whoosh at platform 4. Young Harry who has long since replaced old Harry and is in his sixtieth year shouts for people to stand back and let them off first.

    He can remember the days of steam when the trains made more noise than the modern express. Harry was glad when they replaced the old trains filling up the station with their smut and dirt. The people were politer then although he understands that nowadays they have their stresses and strains and the trains are more crowded so they jostle and push. Harry can’t wait to retire and leave it all behind him. Start over again with a new life.

    “Stand back now. Let them off first please”

    He was sixteen when it happened. His first week and he was still wet behind the ears, standing on the platform in his new uniform when the boy off the train snatched the baby, shawl and all, from the arms of the mother waiting to board. Harry knew Emyr Jenkins and gave chase but Emyr was off like a greyhound through the crowd. The police caught him two days later, hiding out in one of the shepherd’s refuges on the slopes of Parys mountain but the baby they never found. Emyr had always been twp, daft in the head and claimed only to have stolen the shawl and that there was never no baby.

    If he listens carefully as he always does Harry can hear beneath the hubbub and the groaning brakes of the arriving train, a softer sound. Like the start of a sob, half choked off like when Emyr’s mother watched from the gallery as her older son was sent down for life for the abduction and murder of his baby brother.

    Caroline M Davies

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  32. Through the tear jerking episode, Monica blew into the umpteenth tissue, words to the effect of,

    ‘If only I’d checked the stove before going out…’

    In vain, she stopped herself.


    Colleen
    coll@literaryspot.com

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  33. We travelled to Paris. A strange voice, a woman, called my name in the corridor, the Metro, along the river. “I hear nothing,” he said, loosened my hair, kissed me.

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  34. She threw herself under the train and never uttered a sound, but the driver was also broken that day.

    Killing herself to escape, left him with something he never could.

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  35. Cry baby. Leave now or forever wonder why. Can you not see your future in my eyes? Stay close to the bright lights; you are scared of the dark. Remember?

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  36. Hunted like a wild animal, tracked down, strung up and left for dead. The hauntining cries still echo in the wild hills, bouncing off rock and reverberating through the valley.


    Wendy
    wendytaylor25@talktalk.net

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  37. My Dear,

    I am at the station, waiting for you. As another train leaves, the noise no longer taunts me and I am as ever, alone. You left from here so long ago, and I was bereft both of child and lover. What selfish need possessed you as you left I will never know. All I have is this place, in the cold words of the police, your last known whereabouts. There are two spaces I cannot fill. No bodies to stand over and say “yes it is them” no final resting or last goodbye.

    Afterwards, they said it was you who took the child somewhere, in desperation or depression taking both lives. Then suspicion fell on me, even now, if my name is recognised there is a second look, a look that wonders if I am capable of evil. There is no evil, just endless time. No reconciliation, just the silence after the train has gone. You are not here any more than our child is here, but I hear you in the sounds of trains and passengers. Worse, I hear your absence in the silence of the empty station at midnight as the day falls from one to the next and the last train has gone.

    Did you love me so little you would leave me here to continue on my own? Will tears be my epitaph, on my headstone:

    “He never knew the truth”

    Step from a train,
    catch my eye,
    walk to me.

    I see you through the windows of the passing carriages.
    I see you in the cold November rain, coat pulled up to stay warm.
    I will see you everyday of my life, because despite it all,
    I do still love you and I am unable to do anything else.

    Your Love,
    forever waiting.


    Redjim99

    jimbarron@walkauvergne.co.uk

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  38. Train Station

    They say the brakes weep here, but all I hear
    is metal on metal and a precise lack
    of haunting; then silence. How could this resemble
    anyone's grief?

    Sophie F Baker

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  39. everybody
    haunted by grief
    hearing it everywhere
    seeing its face

    shock dissipating, sure
    exponentially, even
    - moving towards zero
    infinitely -

    so, even math tells me i'll never quite get over this.

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  40. Convinced something bad was going to happen she turned the buggy around and got off the train.
    At home the message from the doctors told her she was pregnant again.

    Catherine Selby
    cathrinmarina@hotmail.co.uk

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  41. Convinced something bad was going to happen she turned the buggy around and got off the train.
    At home the message from the doctors told her she was pregnant again.

    Catherine Selby
    cathrinmarina@hotmail.co.uk

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  42. I heard the crying at night. It would seep into my dreams and I would remember the details: the begging, the gunshot, the silence afterwards. I would remember with clarity.

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  43. My second chance:
    I create the disappearance
    at the express track.
    The sirens saved me once.
    Rid me of the child he forced in me.
    Superstitions rein truth in 1955.

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  44. He comes here often; no less haunted. He’s seen worse in his day; crimes beyond comprehension, horrors beyond imagining. But, he cannot forget this one. His first case, still unsolved.

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  45. The story in which time does not pass, was passed on from grandmother to grandchild, who 50 years later took the F train to East Broadway sitting or standing, crying.

    judith@maronif.com

    see also: Sia can hold her breath underwater for longer than Samuel... (forgot to add my name)

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