#Fridayflash Some other platform

Do you remember that night in Crewe? Of course you don’t, you weren’t there. I was carrying you in a small space behind my chest at the time. It was like I had a second heart the same as Dr. Who. And I come from Gallifrey too. So far away, can never go back, the last of my kind.

I mean the station of course. Arrogant trains, electric snakes, never a sideways glance, so fast. They shook the platform and my hair went in front of my eyes. There was scaffolding up. Good job. Sometimes it’s needed.

Inside sleepy eyed slouch shouldered lovers snuggled near suitcases. Other people drank tea with weary resignation. The board shuffled the destinations. Take your pick. An old man shuffled into a seat and blinked.

I pictured you stick figured on the platform at the end of this line. Then I put meat on you. Lots of it. You were tall, wide shouldered although you hadn’t yet begun to shoulder anything. I had you looking at your watch even though it would be hours before my train arrived. And it hadn’t just been trains, there had been buses, shuddering and unlikely and a boat that lurched like it wanted to spew.

It was winter so the night was a sleeping bag that wrapped round and couldn’t be got out of. So many qualities of black: the darkness into which the track disappeared, the fuzzy felt mugginess of the sky – not a star. If you could only just zip it open and reveal the real world where a sun still blazed and sandcastles were being built on a beach of dry white sand.

Everything intersects at Crewe. There was a special train for the Royal Mail. All those letters. I could chase my own, arrive before they did. Or the ones from you, I could intercept, crack them open to get at the sense of you. Your handwriting did the caressing.

In the waiting room no-body spoke. They were waiting. My two hearts took it in turn to beat and then, when the board said my train was next they both beat together. On the platform the porters with the Royal Mail sacks were whistling. Then the train whistled in and I got on.

It got later and later as it always does. I saw a girl in the window looking out at nothing. But then there would be a burst of lights, a staccato city. I travelled North, where the tilt of the earth made it darker for longer. I kept my rucksack under the seat and leaned on it, holding onto myself. I dozed, waked, watched, felt thoughts passing by like landscape.  I’m coming to you, I’m coming to you, I’m coming to you.

And I thought you rolled the track up so I got nearer and nearer. Atlas himself folding the world. The stations were a ticker tape of increasing joy. But only at the last was I aware of the slowing, the signal to alight. All that way, collapsed to a pinprick. Lips. I thought, distinctly. Lips.

I got out onto the platform and stood, the crowds exiting diagonally, like a rush of water, leaving behind nothing. All that way, my two hearts…It was almost midnight. I stood. The platform was as lonely as Crewe.


  1. Fabulous.
    Try this after a few drinks: ‘Inside sleepy eyed slouch shouldered lovers snuggled near suitcases.’ Great alliteration.
    You have all the tricks of poetry and all the imagination for great prose. What a winning combination.
    Yes, ‘yearning’ is a perfect word to describe the essence of this.

  2. I would like to echo what others have already said. The sense of yearning so apparent.

    You also brought back fabulous memories of getting on a train to visit hubby back when we did the long distance relationship phase. Thanks for bringing those back. Made me smile. Particularly “I’m coming to you, I’m coming to you, I’m coming to you.”

    Fabulous writing, as always. I look forward to reading your stories each week.

  3. Beautiful imagery! Too many fantastic poetic images for me to comment on them all, but this really stands out among them: ‘I thought you rolled the track up so I got nearer and nearer’. The train’s rhythm echoed in the repeated ‘I’m coming to you’ really made me feel that I was there. You convey an amazing amount of emotion through your imagery without having to spell anything out. The last sentence is so bleak that it hurts.

  4. There is a wonderful poignancy about trains and train travel. Same with ferries. You’ve captured that sense of loneliness so well here. Peace…

  5. You’ve got the loneliness but also the never-aloneness of travel – somehow nature, the elements, time itself are always your companion in a way they just aren’t in day to day life when so many other things intrude. Night as a sleepig bag is so much better an image than the usual blanket. So similar but that little difference matters so much.

  6. Really beautifully written – poetic, that deep sense of longing and wistfulness and exquisite use of words and imagery. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  7. Atlas himself was folding the world – loved that.

    This story had a curious affect on me in that I found myself following the narrative of the letters and letter writing and handwriting for the path of her heart, rather than her herself (Like when she steps off the platform into loneliness at the end, I was still with the sack of letters and all those chittering written voices). She felt like she was battling for her voice to be heard somehow? Dunno.

    Not sure what that means so am going to have to go away and think about it.

    marc nash

  8. As always Alison, your prose is simply gorgeous. Reading your work always brings about such immense Feeling for me.
    Of all the wonderful lines in this, my favorite is: “I saw a girl in the window looking out at nothing.” That speaks volumes.

  9. This so so ravishing &… all words like that. The only only bit not stunning & perfect, was this (for me): ‘Inside sleepy eyed slouch shouldered lovers snuggled near suitcases.’ All so sophisticated & this jarred with me. Seemed too, I don’t know the word, um,
    I don’t know. Too obviously something, like we were suddenly in a creative writing exam? Just tell me to shut up. please! Love Penny G xx

  10. Really liked that opening, asking me if I remembered a thing then saying I wasn’t there. I make that comment out loud to a lot of stories that use the second person or conversational first.

  11. Lovely, lonely piece – like Marc, I was following the letters too, but I like the whimsical touch as well, the time traveler connection – travels (in a box no less) that surround us, inform us, but we are still left to our own devices, on our own, reaching out.

    Your language is rich and gorgeous “Inside sleepy eyed slouch shouldered lovers snuggled near suitcases” Felt like I was there – or wanted to be there – or already had been.

  12. Fecund language that brings the music of poetry and prose together to help tell the story.
    Really loved this: “I pictured you stick figured on the platform at the end of this line. Then I put meat on you.”

    And as a brand new viewer of Dr. Who, smiled at the reference to two hearts.

  13. Yes, I have to say this one really resonated with me. “a staccato city” This is both a sound and an image in only two words. I also liked the let down of the ending. Like real life, your narrator carried around two hearts and went somewhere, but the end of the is the same as the beginning.

    1. Thanks everyone for your comments and particularly to those who added criticism or question to the mix. There are always things that niggle when you finish a piece, it’s of great value to see if what rang true or jarred with the reader.

  14. I got in on this one late, and don’t really have much to say that hasn’t been said already. As always, Alison, this was a pleasure to read. Such rich imagery and beautiful language is rare these days.

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