Fiction: short story

Occasionally I indulge myself by writing the odd short story. Here’s one for Agent Positive.

There was no sign of the train. Gusts of wind blew leaves and litter around the dirty cold platform. No sign of life was there – the station staff having abandoned their posts on the platform in search of warmth and comfort around the stove in the nearby workshop. A flicker of movement through the windows of the waiting room indicated the presence of the only people in the area – a small and bedraggled group consisting of a man, a heavy-set woman, and a fractious, exhausted child, huddling together for mutual comfort and protection against the cruel, relentless cold.

The three of them shivered in the draughty waiting room, the feeble electric heater glowing in the corner adding little warmth to the room.

Pacing nervously up and down, the tall black man peered out of the windows, searching in vain for a sign that the train would come, and the interminable waiting would end. He patted his pockets fretfully, desperate for a cigarette, or some gum, or anything that would take his mind off from their current situation.

His partner looked tiredly up at him. Heavily pregnant, she felt the blood throb in her ankles and legs. As she shifted her position on the hard wooden bench, she felt the ache in her back and hips, reminding her of the child she carried within her that would be born so soon, and then would have to share their troubles and fear.

Squalling and flailing its arms about, a child of about three or four miserably sought attention. Wrapped up in clothes that would once have been warm and snug, but now were pitifully short, exposing legs and arms that had already turned a dull blue with the cold. Impossible to tell whether it was a boy or girl, its dirty, tangled mass of thick, dark hair hiding two brilliant dark eyes, and revealing a nose, sticky with snot and dried tears, the tracks tracing a path down to a downcast mouth.

His frustration growing, the man flung open the door of the waiting room. As he stormed out, the woman and child shivered and huddled closer together, their silent resistance to the cold and the terror of waiting ebbing as they felt the renewed chill of the winter outside attack their bones. He stormed outside, searching for a sign, a person to ask, or even to see far away, the train advancing slowly down the track towards them. As he slammed the door, the woman’s eyes met his briefly, then dropped away.

As he strode away out of sight, the woman heard the noise of a car engine drawing near, and voices shouting, harshly accusing and commanding. Her heart thumping, she struggled to get up from the bench, to shout, to warn her partner of the impending danger.

A shot rang out. A new terror was about to begin.