Backhand Stories: The Creative Writing Blog

I’d got the call at about six-thirty the previous evening; Sunday – during “Songs of Praise”. Not that I was watching it.

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“How quickly can you get down to London tonight?”

“Tonight? I can’t get there tonight; the last train has gone.”

“Ok, tomorrow, then?”

“Err… maybe just after lunchtime?”

“Ok, the job’s yours. Get there as soon as you can.”

And that was it. My first job out of Uni. Mum ran around like a maniac that evening: washing, drying, ironing, packing. A blizzard of activity, looking after her chick. Early next morning, Dad took me to the train station and put me and my case onto the London train, and then I hustled him off, afraid he’d get stuck on the train too. After I’d waved him out of sight, I jolted down the carriage to find a quiet seat.

They got on at Crewe; a youth with two children. The three wandered down the carriage, looking for seats, and stopped when they came level with me. I’d never seen anyone up close dressed like that before. He was all in black, ringlets dangling in greasy strands, bum fluff on his chin – his signet ring bit into the soft white flesh of his hand. He was dressed beyond his age. He slithered a glance at me, and then muttered something to his two charges who sidled in after him. He sat opposite me. We nodded, then disengaged our eyes. He took out a battered little book and began to read, muttering silently to himself.

I can’t say when I actually realised what was happening. At, first, I thought it just chance. Then I became convinced there was an unruly dog under the table. There was a pressure on my legs, which followed my limbs about, when I tried to keep out of the way. Then I noticed his eyes. Staring, unblinking, over the rims of his thick glasses. At me.

You know those icy fingers that are talked about? Well they played up and down my spine right then. I realised the “dog” was actually his legs pressing onto mine; chasing me around, under the table. And I knew he wanted to see my reaction; see me cringe and disintegrate, right there for his delectation.

But I decided differently. I leant back in the seat and uncrossed my legs and crossed then again; quickly and very firmly, catching my stiletto on his shin.

He winced.

I watched.

We stared eye to eye. I uncrossed my legs again, and crossed them again. Deliberately. He winced once more and looked uncertainly at his companions. They were oblivious to his pain.

I repeated my actions, connecting again; beads of sweat appeared under the black rim of his hat. He muttered disjointedly, and got up – shepherding his party further down the carriage.

I smiled; I knew I’d be able to look after myself then.

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  • jennifer walmsley

    A wonderful tale of the chick leaving the nest, and that encounter leaving her with the knowledge that she’d cope.

    Great story, Avis.

  • Great character descriptions. I particularly like the line ‘his signet ring bit into the soft white flesh of his hand’.
    I admire the attitude of the main character- good luck to her!

  • Avis HG

    Aww thanks Jennifer!

  • sarah

    Thanks for the read, Avis!

  • I love your description, Avis, I really got the picture. I got a sense of growing strength from the story.

  • Avis HG

    Sarah & Jacqui: Thanks for you comments.

  • Avis, I guess I’m a pushover for coming-of-age stories, but this was very, very nice. Admire your use of minimal action, plotting and devices to establish your character and get your point across.

  • Stace

    Avis,

    What I loved about this story:
    1. It’s simplicity in plot
    2. The theme
    3. Utilizes a variety of sentence structures

    What I did not love (I didn’t hate the following aspects – I just found them bothersome):

    1. This paragraph: “They got on at Crewe; a youth with two children. The three wandered down the carriage, looking for seats, and stopped when they came level with me. I’d never seen anyone up close dressed like that before. He was all in black, ringlets dangling in greasy strands, bum fluff on his chin – his signet ring bit into the soft white flesh of his hand. He was dressed beyond his age. He slithered a glance at me, and then muttered something to his two charges who sidled in after him. He sat opposite me. We nodded, then disengaged our eyes. He took out a battered little book and began to read, muttering silently to himself. ”

    This was the only paragraph where I felt a disconnect from the story’s flow. I’d love to see it re-tooled a bit, perhaps a clearer presentation of why he “was dressed beyond his age,” as I don’t think the paragraph quite accomplishes it’s purpose. If you do re-tool it, please DO NOT LOSE the line about the ring – that’s a great bit of rich detail for such a small snippet of writing, and I would love to see the rest of the paragraph match that sort of description!

    2. I never really sensed that the main character doubted she would be able to look after herself .

    Thanks for the good read!

    ~Stace

  • Avis HG

    Walt and Stace – thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  • A Curiouse Person

    mm, that was a cute little story, i liked it very much. It was funny, but not elongaited, it got to the point, but was very flamboiant, yes, it was quite lovely.^.^

  • Nice short story!!

  • Avis HG

    ACP & Sarika

    Thank you very much for such lovely feedback, much appreciated!

  • What a lovely short and crisp story. Neat. Will keep coming back to this joint, it’s renewed my pulp fiction craze

  • Avis HG

    Thank you so much Nabinita. I am glad to have been of service!

  • it was a cute story that was really good

  • It’s tight. Good work

  • Hmm interesting ending, I like it. Keep it up.

  • fatema

    it was a wonderful short story but as quoted earlier, “They got on at Crewe; a youth with two children. The three wandered down the carriage, looking for seats, and stopped when they came level with me. I’d never seen anyone up close dressed like that before. He was all in black, ringlets dangling in greasy strands, bum fluff on his chin – his signet ring bit into the soft white flesh of his hand. He was dressed beyond his age. He slithered a glance at me, and then muttered something to his two charges who sidled in after him. He sat opposite me. We nodded, then disengaged our eyes. He took out a battered little book and began to read, muttering silently to himself. ” I too couldn’t follow the story. but i certainly felt that you are a good story teller. keep writing.

  • Farwolian

    I like a twist and this delivered… nice one. Felt for character, wasnt in tears though.

    check out ‘Meeting John Derrick’ @ http://rowan-fixion.blogspot.com… that made me cry 🙁

  • Avis HG

    Farwolian – Glad you liked it, but I wasn’t going for the heart string tug. It was – as stated – a rite of passage. Thanks for reading though!