Wednesday September 7th, 2011

The exercise:

Write a little something which takes place on: the train.

With weeds being ignored in the garden, we find ourselves with some time to get back to work on the house. If all goes to plan tomorrow, we'll finally get started on painting the outside. Very much looking forward to that.


The woman sitting across from me is absolutely perfect. I honestly can't believe my luck at being given a ticket in the same carriage as her. I must have done something right in a previous life.

Or something very wrong in this one.

"Good morning," I say with a smile that I force to reach my eyes. "Are you heading all the way to Duluth?"

"I am, actually," she replies, brushing a strand of blonde hair back into place behind her right ear. "Hopefully for the last time, though. Parents can't live forever, right?"

"No, but they certainly do their damnedest, don't they?" Her laugh lets me know that I've got her already. This is really too easy. "My name is Keith, by the way."

"Sandra." We shake hands. My pulse increases ever so slightly. "I'm a student at UCLA. How about yourself?"

"Me?" I keep my tone casual and glance out the window at the retreating skyline of Los Angeles. "Oh, nothing as honorable as that."

"I wouldn't call studying biology honorable. Come on, you can tell me."

"Well, if you must know," I say leaning forward and lowering my voice. She leans forward as well. She can't help herself. "I take hostages in order to rob trains."


Greg said...

House-painting should be a nice change after a summer mostly spent weeding, I think. I hope it goes nice and smoothly for you, and that the weather holds.
I love the natural flow of the conversation in your piece today, I can quite imagine sitting nearby and overhearing this! So hopefully you'll forgive what I'm about to do....

The train
The man sitting opposite me is... well, interesting is probably a little generous, but I'm trying to be nice about people. Today. He looks nervous, and there's something a little shifty about his eyes. I'm pretty certain he's going to try a line on me.
"Good morning," he says, "Are you heading all the way to Duluth?"
His smile seems genuine enough, and it's a bland enough conversation opener, but really, he could have done better. Much better.
"I am, actually," I reply. A strand of hair comes loose and I brush it back, carefully turning my wrist so that the inside of it faces him, indicating my interest. "Hopefully for the last time, though. Parents can't live forever, right?"
Mine certainly didn't, I took them both out back and shot them four years ago and that wasn't even in Duluth, but it should fit into his ideas about me.
"No, but they certainly do their damnedest, don't they?" he says. I laugh, remembering at the last moment not to roll my eyes. "My name is Keith, by the way."
It isn't, I've checked his luggage tags already where it claims he's Gordon, and I don't believe that either.
"Sandra," I say, and he offers me his hand to shake. A little bead of sweat appears on his forehead. "I'm a student at UCLA," I continue. "How about yourself?"
Ah UCLA. I set fire to some buildings there a year back, I must go past again and see if they've rebuilt.
"Me?" he says casually, and looks out of the window. I take advantage of that to free the eight-inch knife strapped to my leg, leaving it in its little holster. I love skirts. "Oh, nothing so honorable as that."
"I wouldn't call studying biology honorable," I say. Anatomy might be closer to the truth. "Come on, you can tell me."
"Well, if you must know," he says, leaning forward and lowering his voice. I lean in too, conveniently bringing my hand back down to the hilt of the knife. "I take hostages in order to rob trains."
The look of shock on his face as I lift the knife and press it gently into the skin of his throat is something I'll treasure for a long time.
"I have a small side-line in organ theft," I say, and smile as sincerely as he did at the start of our little conversation.

morganna said...

That was quite unexpected, Greg. Nice job.
She waits
For the whistle
The train pulls away hard
From the station with jerks and clangs
She stares out the window determined not
To mourn the old, hard life with him
Her new life is ready
Dry-eyed, she sits
And waits.

Dawn M. Hamsher said...

Marc, I enjoyed that twist. Glad I found your site! I love writing exercises.


Salvo crossed the busy street, oblivious to the rushing traffic and honking horns. He could only think of one thing. Gina. How could she? The text was short. It ripped his heart. And then he just saw red. With each step, he clenched and unclenched his fists. The words screamed at him.

we r done


Gina bit her lip. She had the text ready an hour ago. She zipped her bag and looked one last time around her apartment. Her thumb hovered over the button. She took a deep breath and pressed SEND. Her heart pounded. She’d done it. Two years of dealing with his anger. He’d blow up and then shower her later with flowers and fine dining, kissing her forehead with apologies. Last night, though, was the last time.

She left the phone on the couch and grabbed her things, wincing from the bruises. He never beat her were it showed. Then she closed the door. She could hear the phone already ringing and knew he’d be on the way. She sniffed. It didn’t matter. She’d be long gone and he’d never find her. The tears began to flow, but she kept walking. He did love her, she knew that, but she wasn’t going back. Not this time.

She slipped onto a subway car, into a corner seat. Reality set in. She had left her job, her friends – all without a word. She had left him. She hugged her bag close and shut her eyes. The train rocked back and forth. She was finally free.

Marc said...

Greg - you do enjoy turning the tables on me, don't you? :P

Luckily for you, I found that to be pretty awesome.

Morganna - that sounds like a great beginning to a very interesting story. Or perhaps the conclusion to one?

Dawn - thank you, and I'm glad you found your way here as well :)

That was very nicely done. I liked that you started with his perspective and then switched to hers, it really made the piece more powerful.

Hope to see more from you here!