A first train journey.

She looked very vulnerable, all of twelve or thirteen years old in her tiny short skirt and little belted jacket standing alone on the dark platform clutching her bag. It was a very confident bag- bright pink with buckles and favours and a glittery silver diamante clasp made from two initials. If that bag could have talked it wouldn’t have just said hello, it would have given you a full Hollywood song and dance routine from the great days of MGM. All of her shallow teenage confidence had drained away into that bag and she was left to hide behind it.
She caught my eye.
“Are you waiting for the Bridlington train?”
I told her that I was and she took a step nearer.
“Can you help me get on it? I’ve never been on a train before.”
I smiled at her.
“Yes. You’ll be fine. There’s about half an hour to wait.”
“I’m going to Bridlington.”
“It’s OK. They’ll announce the stops so you’ll know when to get off.”
“But I’m going deaf in this ear so I might not hear it.”
She pointed helplessly at her ear.
“Well I think there are two stops after I get off at Filey. When the ticket collector comes along we can ask him.”
She nodded, still worried. After a while she edged onto the seat next to me and sat there quietly for the next half hour playing with her smart phone, snatching glances at the lighted board. The train came into the platform early, as it usually does, and when people started milling round, manufacturing a completely unnecessary rush, she looked at me anxiously.
“Is this our train?”
I nodded, flattered that she had said our train. It was good to be relied on. Usually I’m the one that people assume needs help. They are mostly wrong about that but it doesn’t stop them patronising me and every so often I do something daft to prove them right.
“Yes, this is our train.”
We got on together and she sat perfectly still in the seat next to me, stiff with anxiety, looking straight ahead and holding her bag in front of her on her knee,  a magical cross to ward off the vampires she probably liked to read about. The announcement bleated out the stations as the train left. I turned sideways to look at her.
“Hunmanby and Bempton. So that’s two stops after Filey.”
She nodded, her pretty, carefully made up eyes wide with fear and remained still as a little Japanese ivory statue until I said goodbye before I got out at Filey.
“Two stops at small stations then and after that it will be Bridlington. You’ll be fine.”
She nodded, half thankful and half afraid that she was about to be on her own again. I hope that she didn’t do what I did on my way back from Sheffield a few months ago and get out at Bempton in the dark before having to hurriedly get back on the train again. I still don’t know why I did that…………………


2 comments on “A first train journey.

  1. Jane Walker says:

    I don’t think I would have made my 11 year old do that journey unaccompanied.. little anxieties of life.. . what a good thing you/narrator could help ..

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