Short Story -Platform Three

I was having a look at an old blog where I used to post my ramblings and writing and there are a few short stories that I might try and polish up and post here… The first was written for a prompt – the prompt word was “stranger”

Platform Three

trainLooking up at the departure board I sighed, closing my eyes for a second in the vague hope the glowing orange words would change when I looked again, but of course when I peeked out from beneath my lashes the news was still the same. “Delayed”.

It was late, I was cold and I had just had the day from hell. I wanted nothing more than to get back home, maybe have a nice hot bath, but definitely get into the comfort, familiarity and security of my bed, so of course my train was going to be delayed. Stands to reason doesn’t it, on the one day you really need things to run smoothly it’s sods law everything possible will go wrong.

“Sometimes I really hate this country,” I muttered to myself as I slumped into the hard plastic chair to wait for the train that would, I silently prayed, turn up eventually. “A few flakes of snow and everything grinds to a halt… the rest of the world must piss itself laughing at us!”

Wrapping my arms around myself in some vain attempt to hold in the heat the draughty station platform had leeched from my very bones I shivered and tried to find some comfort in the worlds most uncomfortable of seats. How was it possible to design a moulded plastic chair that was almost the entirely wrong shape to fit a human body? There are some days you know the world really does hate you.

From the moment I had got out of bed that morning my instincts had told me to get right back in there and skip the day, there was no way it was ever going to be a good one after all. But I had somewhere to be and something to do, something I had already been putting off for days, weeks really, something that couldn’t carry on and I had decided today would be the day. A decision that had been a lot easier to reach a few days earlier when it was still something in the distance, not so easy once I was leaving the house for a journey I’d made countless times before but never planned to make again.

When he’d first got the promotion and moved we had said it wouldn’t change things, we had said we would make it work and the distance wouldn’t break us. I think we meant it at the time, I’m sure I did, but time and distance proved too great in the end and while I waited for that old adage to kick in, you know the one about distance making the heart grow fonder, I started to realise I wasn’t missing him, I wasn’t waiting for his call and I wasn’t wishing he was back with me. That’s when I knew I had to end it; it wasn’t fair on either of us to carry on. There was no point lying to him and pretending I felt things I no longer did, if I ever had. Being apart made me unsure of even that, how could I have loved someone if it had been so easy for those feelings to fade?

So, as the first flurry of snow began to fall, I made the three-hour journey that would end a four-year relationship, only to discover my unannounced visit was somewhat ill timed as the man I had travelled all the way to dump had already found my replacement.

I won’t say I wasn’t hurt, I would have hoped he would have treated me better than that, had more respect for the years we had been together, but after the anger and the tears I had to admit the overwhelming feeling was one of relief. At last we could both move on with our lives, lives that no longer included each other.

And moving on was exactly what I planned to do, if the train ever turned up.

Sighing loudly I glanced up towards the departure board again but my attention was pulled to one side when I was gripped by the feeling someone was staring at me.

My breath caught for a moment, it wasn’t that the man a few feet along the platform was stunningly handsome, but there was something about him that made my pulse race abit faster. His eyes were the colour of molten chocolate, dark and intriguing, holding the promise of something forbidden in their liquid depths. And he was staring at me. Me! What was that about?

My hand rose self consciously to my hair, I knew it would be damp from the snow and I inwardly winced as my palm brushed against lank locks that must have surely looked as bad as they felt, no wonder he was staring, I must have looked a mess. The earlier meeting with the man who was now my ex had been emotional to say the least, and the flow of tears had smudged or washed away most of my makeup, the remains being touched up as best I could in the station toilets half and hour earlier as I squinted into my cracked compact. Yes it was safe to say I wasn’t looking my best.

The man smiled, only a small half smile, but its full force was pointed my way and I shivered, this time not from the cold. The smile made a bright glint of light seem to dance in the darkness of his eyes and I couldn’t stop my gaze from flickering back to the obvious softness of his mouth, my mind already imagining the feel of it against my skin.

Cursing myself I dragged my gaze away from him, suddenly finding intense interest in the damp ground beneath my feet as my face flushed with embarrassment.

It was crazy; I was feeling like a silly schoolgirl over a single smile from a stranger, I was in serious need of help!

He was nothing special, I told myself over and over, sure he was good-looking, the dark overcoat wrapped around him appeared to embrace a tall and gently muscular physique and his dark, possibly black, hair was casually styled with just a hint of some product or other, but he was a far cry from an Adonis. So why exactly was my heart racing simply because I could still feel his eyes on me?

I was aware of him approaching even before I heard his footsteps, something told me he was moving, getting closer, and my interest in the mottled cracked concrete of the platform floor grew in its intensity. How could I look up? I felt too embarrassed, too shy, too confused and too many things I couldn’t put a name to.

“Could they make these chairs anymore uncomfortable?” He asked me with a laugh. The sound trickled over me like molasses, rich and sweet and thoroughly seductive. And I won’t lie because right at that moment I was more than willing to be seduced.

“Yeah,” I said in what was possibly the weakest most stumbling voice I had ever used in my life, making my cheeks flush an even deeper shade of crimson, but at least I wasn’t quite so cold anymore.

“You don’t remember me do you?” The gorgeously sensuous man asked, a man who I could not possibly have met before, men like that you don’t easily forget.

“Remember you?” Gathering up my courage I lifted my eyes to his, the force of his stare enough to knock me off my feet, thank god I was already seated. He must have mistaken me for someone else because I know I will never forget those eyes for the rest of my life, and possibly beyond. “I don’t think we…”

“We went to the same school…”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m not surprised you don’t recognise me Alison, I’ve changed a lot since then… but you haven’t!”

I smiled quizzically as I tried to place the man who was still taking my breath away. He knew my name, that couldn’t be a lucky guess, but why did I not know him? I haven’t changed… was that a compliment? Normally I would have thought so but there was something in his tone that seemed a little cold, bitter even.

Before I could comment further the rumble of an approaching train vibrated through the station, and he got to his feet with a confident smile.

“This one’s mine… Goodbye, Alison Moore.”

“Wait,” I said weakly, the sound lost beneath the noise and bustle of the platform as I watched the mysterious man walking away. He didn’t once look back and within minutes the train pulled away, and he was gone.

When I finally got back home I spent hours pouring through old school photographs, but I never saw him in any of them.

I never did find out who he was, that stranger who wasn’t a stranger.

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Book Review – Bird Box

What a gorgeous sunny Easter weekend we have seen – and there is nothing like sunshine to get me sitting out in the garden reading 🙂

Today I finished Bird Box by Josh Malerman… and this is what I thought

BBoxBlurb:  Josh Malerman’s debut novel BIRD BOX is a terrifying, psychological thriller that is sure to stay with you long after reading.

Most people dismissed the reports on the news. But they became too frequent; they became too real. And soon it was happening to people we knew.

Then the Internet died. The televisions and radios went silent. The phones stopped ringing

And we couldn’t look outside anymore.

Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: Like many people I first became aware of this story when it was a Netflix film (which I haven’t seen) so I thought it might be worth a read.

It was.

Despite being told through alternating times there was no difficulty in relating to where you are in the story and I think that helped to add to the suspense. When you are in the “present” you can’t help but wonder what happened to some of the characters from the “past”.

The tension builds well throughout the story with the unknown threat forever looming over the characters, unable to view the outside world or step outside without binding your eyes while never knowing for sure what the “creatures” might do, or be able to do.

The ending did leave a little to be desired but I am happy to see that there is a sequel coming later this year so hopefully some unanswered questions will so have their answers.

An enjoyable read.

Ask the Author: D.E. Howard

Maddie M. White

What would you like readers to know about you?
I write whatever speaks to me at the time, so while so far my books have been fantasy/romance that is not necessarily always going to be the case. I am also a HUGE Beatles fan.
 
What is Spirit of the Book about for those who haven’t read it?
It’s a tale of a young woman who finally breaks free from a mother who never wanted her, and finds an old book, which just happens to be inhabited by a spirit. Through a growing friendship with Spirit Ellie learns the truth about magic and finds a strength in herself she never knew existed.
 
What has been your inspiration for writing Spirit of the Book?
I actually wrote this for a Nanowrimo. I find I can be rather a lazy writer but I find the target and deadlines of Nanowrimo really…

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Book Review – James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes

James Acaster has been around in the world of comedy for a while now – and while I have seen him on a few panel shows and the like the first time he properly caught my attention was on a recent edition of “Bake Off”. If you didn’t see that you need to watch his highlights now!! Has anyone ever baked quite so badly???!

Then at the weekend I spotted his book in a discount store – well I just HAD to get it didn’t I?  And this is what I thought….

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes

Blurb:  **THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER**

scrapes‘I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has made me cry with laughter as much as this one. It was very difficult reading it in public as I looked like a madman’ – Richard Herring

James Acaster has been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award five times and has appeared on prime-time TV shows like TASKMASTER, MOCK THE WEEKLIVE AT THE APOLLO and WOULD I LIE TO YOU?

But behind the fame and critical acclaim is a man perpetually getting into trouble. Whether it’s disappointing a skydiving instructor mid-flight, hiding from thugs in a bush wearing a bright red dress, or annoying the Kettering Board Games club, a didgeridoo-playing conspiracy theorist and some bemused Christians, James is always finding new ways to embarrass himself.

Appearing on Josh Widdicombe’s radio show to recount these stories, the feature was christened ‘James Acaster’s classic scrapes’. Here, in his first book, James recounts these tales (including never-before-heard stories) along with self-penned drawings, in all their glorious stupidity.

My Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: This is a kind of biography but told through a series of “scrapes”. You do wonder how one man can get himself in so many crazy situations and he really does never seem to learn, but that is half the appeal. I challenge anyone not to laugh through this book – it’s a pure joy. And the fact that the wild strawberries story still haunts him is beyond endearing ❤ (Now you have to read it to see what that’s about!)

Book Review – You then, Me Now

Don’t you just love it when a favourite author has a new book out – and this is one that I just devoured in two days… so here is what I thought about:

You Then, Me Now by Nick Alexander

Blurb: YouMEShe’s given her daughter everything. Now it’s time to give her the truth.

Becky’s father is not just absent: he’s a mystery, a gaping hole in her past. He died before she was born and for her mother, Laura, the subject is strictly off-limits. But when Laura books an unexpected trip to Greece, Becky decides to join her, determined to get closer to her mother—and to the truth.

As they make their way to the beautiful island of Santorini, it becomes clear that this holiday is not as impulsive as Becky thought. Laura’s hiding something from her daughter—and she’s been hiding it for as long as Becky can remember. Laura has been here before, and that last visit holds the answers to Becky’s past.

But Laura’s memories of that first trip are tinged with pain and heartbreak, secrets she’s kept buried for twenty-five years. Now, with the truth emerging into the sunlight at last, can mother and daughter lay the ghosts of their past to rest and find the happiness they’ve both been looking for?

My Rating:  5/5

My Thoughts:  This is a beautifully written tale split between alternating narratives of the two lead characters, Laura and her daughter Becky.

The “You Then” is Laura’s tale of the past – a past she has kept from her daughter her whole life. “Me Now” is Becky in the present trying to get to understand her mother and possibly crack the elusive secret of her unknown father.

There were so many moments in this story that made me gasp, or shake my head, or want to shake one character or other, and even shed some tears. In fact I was quite emotionally exhausted by the end – but in a good way!

The island of Santorini is almost like another character – it is so amazingly described and its locations are the perfect setting for the magical moments of this story.

I have always loved Nick’s writing but this is certainly one of, if not THE, best so far. A real treasure of a read. Give it a go – you won’t be sorry 🙂