Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tube Ride

Dragging a bag containing small trinkets, memories of the old life, Osler trudged across the platform.  They scraped and clanked with every step. Osler liked the noise and began to readjust his steps to move in time with the rhythm being produced by the holdall. A kind of primitive techno; a soundtrack for his subsidence.

Osler waited for the tube. He stood beside a poster exaggerating the sexual allure of men's deodorant.

The tunnel began to whistle and a crisp packet was blown upwards as the careering train arrived. A  squealing crescendo. Then, with a pffssht of the doors, suits exited and were instantly replaced.

Osler took his seat. He knew the rules. No eye contact, far less staring. He wedged his bag between his legs and closed his eyes. The train bumped on. Osler counted the stops in his head.

Four more to go.

He felt a tug on his trousers.

Through one eye, he could see that the boy was peering into the tiny opening at one end of the bag's zip.

"What's in there mister?"

Who was he with? Osler peered round. No one between the boy and the next handrail. Eyes were averted as if they hadn't noticed the boy's question. No one was claiming him.

Again. "What's in there mister?"

What was in there? How to answer that?

Default: "Nothing."

Osler closed his eyes again. Hoping for peace.

Again the tugging.

"Are you going on holiday, mister?"

Osler noticed the boy's keen eyes. Eager and blue. Dimpled cheeks. Blond hair. Looking for something.

"No."

"What's your name, mister?"

"Osler" said Osler.

With a sigh, he let him in. "What's yours?"

"Toby."

Osler nodded. The question was enough. The boy eased himself back against the faded velvet seat. The train gargled on, spitting out and re-swallowing passengers until Osler reached his stop.

The doors opened and he was gone.

Toby watched him disappear through the dirty perspex as the train fast-forwarded and was sucked into blackness. In the dull light, the boy quickly unzipped the bag.

Half a mile back, Osler escalated into the light and breathed the fresh air of spring.


















15 comments:

  1. Letting go ... beautiful write!!

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  2. I love it. I was whisked along on the ride smoothly. The 'poster exaggerating the sexual allure of men's deodorant' made me lol...which was fun. I enjoyed the mystery and what felt like almost dreaminess. The language you've chosen keeps my interest with no clunky, unnecessary filler...it just flows along excellently, as in 'The train gargled on, spitting out and re-swallowing passengers'. And the ending made me take a deep breath, hoping to breathe in the fresh air of spring too. That sounds so good right now!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. I really appreciate that feedback. Kind of you to take the time to read and comment like that. Spring does sound good :)

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  3. spring - sound good real good - huge snow storm on the way over here in the colony

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  4. Absolutely amazing my friend. I love the metaphors!!

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  5. oh god...i think i know what is next...really nice detail in this as well...the poster...the interaction with the boy as well going against his training...waiting on the BOOM>>>>really well written man...

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    1. Brian. Amazingly, you read a whole new meaning into this. You're right though. I read it back and it was there. I just sat down and typed this to see where it would go and your interpretation of it takes it to another level. That's what's so good about writing and reading. Thanks sir :)

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  6. I just learned about default. You express everything wonderfully mysteriously.

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  7. Quite the ride, you tell a story full of wisdom beyond your apparent age ;) and I'd like to borrow your little spring video, if I may/

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  8. Thanks for that. Always glad to be told I'm not over the hill yet. (40 in two weeks!) You certainly may borrow the spring video. If you mean the one from youtube, it's not mine to give. I borrowed it too :)

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  9. I always enjoy poems about the city life, including train rides like yours ~

    I like the sounds, swallowing and replacing of passengers, the unspoken rules, and the transient interactions between passengers. I like the details of the bag, breathing of spring, though there is a hint of mystery in the ending ~

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