The Man on the Platform

Yesterday I was reading this interview with Rose McDonagh who won the October 2017 Bath Flash Fiction award with her excellent story Pony.

In the interview she says that the story came from a writing exercise which involved writing some dialogue between two characters where one has a secret. I decided to have a go at using this prompt myself and came up with this story. Let me know what you think, or why not have a go yourself?

The Man on the Platform

“Is that man waving at you?”

“Huh? Which man?” We were waiting for the London train. It was your birthday and we’d both taken the day off work to go to the National gallery together. You wanted to see the Francis Bacon exhibition.

“That man over there, with the green checked shirt. I’m sure he was waving at you.” You were pulling on my sleeve. I was trying to shake you off like you were a small dog who’d clamped its jaws onto an appendage, whilst trying to appear disinterested.

“I can’t see anyone.” I wasn’t looking. I’d already clocked him there ten minutes ago. How dare he wave, the stupid bastard.

“There! By the wall. He’s wearing one of those gilet things over his shirt. I hate those things. So pointless. Why would you want your body warm and your arms cold?”

“Hmmm. I’ve never seen him before. He can’t have been waving at me.” Lies. But I wasn’t prepared for this. Lying came so naturally, I was almost convincing myself.

“Yes, he is, look! He’s waving again!” He was as well. He could see I was with someone. What on earth did he think he was playing at? The platform was beginning to fill up. I hoped he would keep his distance. I couldn’t face the introductions.

“The train will be here in a minute, come on let’s go. He must have got me confused with someone else. People are always getting me confused with other women who have curly hair. Even women who look nothing like me, like that woman with the whippet who lives on Lark Close. It’s like they think we all look the same or something. I think it’s discrimination actually”. Just keep talking, distraction, diversion. This will be over soon.

“Are you sure you don’t know him? He’s smiling at you. I think he’s trying to say something.”

Would you just let it drop already? “I don’t know him, okay? Look, the train’s here. Let’s find our seats. I’ve never gone first class before, have you?”

“No. Thank you. It was sweet of you. I hope they have champagne.”

“Don’t get too excited. I’m not made of money.” You held my hand and I didn’t look back. I knew he wouldn’t find us. Fifteen years since he’d left Mum for his other woman. He was no father to me.

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