Thursday, February 17, 2011

Train Day - #FridayFlash

Picture credits
I suggest you check out the artist's page;
there are some nice drawings in there!

This story is based on real facts, and it was inspired by Icy Sedgwick's story that is also set in a train.


Jonathan woke up at six thirty in the morning. He had a good reason for making such effort. Jonathan liked to sleep, to wake up with no timer set, to get off the bed only when his body demanded him to. But today was an important day.

He gets up, washes his teeth, lets the dogs out, washes the dishes... Damn, there's no time. Leaves the dishes as they are, changes, lets the dogs in, I'm forgetting something. Ah, yes, eat. I have to eat or I'll be lightheaded when I arrive and that'll be no good. Is there time? Checks the hour. Confused by sleepiness, shares an apple with the dogs, put shoes on, gets book, binder. Opens door to leave. Money! How can I leave hungry without any money? Stupid.

The train arrived punctually at the station and Jonathan got on, controlling the butterflies in his stomach. There were only two more to go, if you don't count the subway between the first stop and the next one. He managed to get a good place to sit and watched the naked trees and uncared-for buildings pass by, while listening to a blond curly hair and a squared chin with blue eyes chat to pass the time. He was interested in her and she didn't reciprocate. The train was packed up with people. Jonathan was surprised how it felt like a upper subway instead of a train line. The hair made some general mention to it too.

The train slowed down at several stations. Ok, that's expected, he thought. Blond hair was annoyed at the delay. The train usually missed the time by five minutes and they were already ten minutes past the schedule. Stop. Tick, tick, tick. The chin and the gesturing blond hand look at their watches. Twelve minutes late. Stop. Slow moving. Stop. The train drags itself through the line as if it too were feeling the crowd inside its rumbling belly.

They arrived with almost twenty minutes of delay. Jonathan squeezed himself off the train, apologizing his way out, and ran. Slowing down but not stopping, he asked for directions to the subway, bumped on a tall guy and ran. Ops! Sorry! Excuse me! Two tickets please? Thanks! He twisted his body sideways to avoid contact with shoulders, purses, skirts; skipping a pace to prevent toe injuries, he passed the ratchet, asked the round face with gentle eyes for direction and sprinted down the stairs. Checking with a black suit that he was at the right side of the platform, he paced until the train arrived. Now, there's the crowded subway. Stop. One more station. What a cute guy... Stop. There!

Upstairs he goes, puffing with the effort. The subway vomited him right at the train station entry. I have eight minutes, I'm going to make it! More stairs, rolling stairs, female voice informing that his train is about to depart at the tenth platform. He arrives right in front of it and the train is still there!

He trots to his cart, just in case, excusing himself with comfy caramel boots at the door, and finds his place. He wants to throw himself on the seat, but there's a distinctive looking man who he'll observe later to think him a writer. It's nine fifteen when the train departs. Ten minutes late. I hope It'll catch up on the way, or I'll be sweating in plain winter when I arrive. If I arrive.

Yellow sweater complains that he's sat right in front of him. Johnathan smiles awkwardly and apologizes for no reason. Facebook guy (boy?) arrives with scowling girl. High pitched voice arrives soon after and mentions that Jonathan had her place. He offers to change, but voice says it's no matter. Voice makes several phone calls, disturbing the yellow writer. Johnathan's throat is sour from the cold air, so he orders a coffee when the opportunity arises, and opens his book. Plain girl arrives and yellow writer has to move to his designated seat. He puts his writing aside. Butterflies settle down as the reading snatches his attention.

There's snow outside. Strange, he thinks, and keeps reading. An hour later the conductor comes to check the tickets. He scratches his head and murmurs something to his female colleague. The train is going to the opposite way, he says apologetically. Jonathan's face looses all its blood. He had taken the wrong train! Idiot. He arrives at the wrong station after half an hour, where he manages to get on the next train back without paying an extra ticket.

He calls, but there's not time to arrive at his destination. He gets some chips to calm his empty stomach, and a bottle of water. As he opens his book, he sighs. Ah, well... Back to being a housewife, househusband, whatever.



  1. Hi Mari. I certainly picked up on Jonothan's confused day. I'm not sure about flicking from third person to first in the second paragraph (I don't know if that's an oops or you meant it that way.)


    #fridayflash Meet me at Union Station

  2. --Denise (L'Aussie): Indeed it was intentional, as the sentence in the first person is an actual thought of Johnathan's. It was meant to be a bit confusing, as his day was packed with hurrying, worrying and bad surprises.

    Your comment would make much sense in a regular piece of mine though. Thanks for noticing and taking the time to point it out, I really appreciate it!

  3. I ilke the different mental states reflected in the grammatical changes. I do wonder whether the present tense opening makes him seem very switched on, when perhaps the words are suggesting he;s still a bit sleep drugged? But the overall effects are well achieved

    marc nash

  4. --Marc (Sulci Collective): It's too early for him to be awake. He's sleepy all right! heh

    Thank you for your comment, Marc. I'm excited to know that the effect I wanted to create was clearly delivered.

    *jumps up and down* Oops! *hides*

  5. I love the way you refer to people as their appearances, because that's how we do register people when we're out on public transport. People cease to be people and just become whatever is most notable about them.

  6. My heart is doing a little stress dance just reading about the poor lad. Certainly can relate with all the crap he has to go through to get on with his day! Cool story, Mari!

  7. --Icy: True, and in Johnathan's case he had to deal with all the stuff in his mind, and his empty stomach too!

    --Cathy: Thanks! I'm sorry I provoked stress on your lovely heart... It was the original intention, though. *coughs and looks up innocently* ;P

  8. Low-key adventure away from the house life. Me? I'm a John that's happy to stay in bed.

  9. Mari, I'm exhausted! You pulled this off quite well, poor fellow!

  10. Good story! You certainly did an excellent job of portraying the hurry and rush and confusion of his travels.

  11. --John: Well, one must earn one's living, right? If he could, I'm positive he'd agree with you. ;)

    --Deanna and Eric: Thanks! It was quite a day for Johnathan!

  12. Hey guys, a friend of mine had a doubt on grammar about this sentence:

    "He wants to throw himself on the seat, but there's a distinctive looking man who he'll observe later to think him a writer.

    She thinks I should have written: "who he'll observe and later think him to be a writer"

    According to her, the position of the "to" is the main issue. What do you think?

  13. I liked the way everyone is identified by quirky details on the train- yellow writer, Facebook guy... :)

  14. You do a great job of using details to describe what's going on, and the people he bumps into. A bit of a roller-coaster -- he's there, he's not. Peace...

  15. Love this. You really capture the fast pace of not just getting up, but going through a train station and getting on various trains. I remember those days well from living in NYC. I also love how the main character refers to the other passengers by their appearance. That's a brilliant idea. I wasn't bothered by the jump from first to third person in that paragraph, it felt like a mental jump to me on Jonathan's part to me. How you can sometimes be inside your head and then suddenly remember something and talk out loud. Either way, loved this.

  16. --Cathy (ganymeder): Thanks! That\s how I pictured Johnathan's impressions of the people the stumbled with on his way.

    --Linda: Welcome back to Randomities! you were missed. Glad you enjoyed this tale despite of the dizzying feeling it seems to have caused. :)

    --Rachel: Thanks for the feedback! It was precisely my intention, to give quick mental jumps into Johnathan's mind. I'm happy you liked it.

  17. And this is exactly what public transport does to you: confuses, stresses, sweats....
    I think your friend has a point about the sentence: it reads as if the other man is going to think Jonathan is a writer.
    But this is why we get others to read our stuff. Something always slips through the net (in my case, often the whole shoal!).

  18. --flyingscribbler: Thanks for the feedback! I hadn't realized that the sentence could have double meaning.

  19. I like how you evoke mass transit so well. I've done that, gotten on the wrong train. It's so hard to be on time when you are dependent on someone else's timetable. The whole feel of the piece resonated with me.

  20. --Angela: Thanks! Johnathan's story resonated with me too, which is why I wrote it down. In a different way, I too have been in his skin.


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