Sunday, 16 June 2019

Write-In 2019: 'Brief encounter' by Cath Barton

There are two boys on the station platform, whispering and giggling. They’re making me nervous. I turn away.

It’s weird there’s no-one else here, with a train due in five minutes. It’s weird how the light is fading so fast, when it’s midday. In my anxiety about this visit have I missed the news about an eclipse?

 There’s an announcement shouted over the tannoy in a language I don’t understand. Tickets! Tickets! Those words I know. I pull my ticket from my pocket. But it’s old, it’s been validated already, stamped several times.

I run towards the ticket office. I have to get a replacement. I look round for the boys. They’re there, in the shadows. One of them is lifting his arm. There’s a flash and a bang and he’s thrusting something at me.

‘Ulaznica!’ he says.

It’s a new ticket, or rather a photograph of the old one.

He holds out his hand, rubbing his thumb and index finger together.

‘Novac, novac.’ His face is close to mine. I know what he wants.

A train is coming, but its not slowing down. It’s obvious what I have to do. I’m surprised how easy it is, in the darkness.

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