Train to Nowhere: Flash Fiction and Poem Response to Billybuc's Challenge (4)
Flash Fiction: Max 250 Words
Following three previous challenges, each based on a series of five photos, we were asked to come up with some flash fiction based around just one photo. It could be 500 words or 250 words. Actually, it could be whatever we wanted as the idea was to inspire our muses, to get the writing juices flowing.
I decided to try for a maximum of 250 words and then add a poem just for fun. Here goes!
Train to Nowhere
I used to love playing with my train set.
Now, I’m waiting. Where are the passengers? Haven’t seen anyone in days. We have a head of steam, piles of coal, a train polished inside and out until it reflects the frustration, a journey to die for, but no takers.
Yesterday, I saw one figure in the distance. I ran, shouted,
“Come and ride our train! It’s fantastic! It’s scenic! I beg you, come, join us! I won’t come anywhere near you. I’ve been practising social distancing for weeks.”
He ran away. I couldn’t even coax him with a free ride.
My hair’s gone grey overnight. My bucket’s hanging there, redundant. Can you hear the train creaking with impatience? The wheels will seize, the track will rust, I will go crazy.
Hang on! Someone’s coming. A bloke with a briefcase. He stands several yards away and yells,
“You have to stay at home! You can’t stay here! I’ve got forms for you to claim 80% pay while this situation remains.” He waves some papers at me.
I tell him,
“You go stay at home! I am home. With my wife over there. Who do you think you are? I don’t want your forms. I want to do my job. Leave your forms on the ground and disappear!”
He disappears. My wife disappears. The papers drift away on the wind, like my existence. Everyone is disappearing. Will I be the only one left? Is anyone out there….. anyone at all?
Train on track, following its route.
Man’s feet wandering, wondering how to be of use.
Where will his future be when people come back?
Will he still ride this train, off down this track?
Through the dark forests, by gorges and rocks,
waterfalls tossing their silver-froth locks,
riverbed ribbons cut shingle and moss,
but how, oh how,
shall we cope
You’ve probably realised by now that I went for the melancholy. I’ve remained fairly upbeat whilst this pandemic has been flooding the world but the figure in the photo looked so lost and forlorn that ‘upbeat’ didn’t seem to fit.
Strangely, my other inclination was to go for humour. I wonder why opposite emotions bounce off each other like that, like the ying and yang of response. Do you find that sometimes?
I hope I haven’t depressed you too much but I had to spare a thought for those not so fortunate as myself. I wonder how some people are going to manage and I hope they have friends and family who help them get through all this. My heart goes out to them. Let’s hope the world will retain that sense of helping our neighbours that seems to have grown, the rise in caring for others, the mood of being thankful for what we have and for the wonder in the world.
Reasons to be CheerfulClick thumbnail to view full-size
For we do have the wonders of nature, of caring people, of neighbours and friends and family. Many of us have the wonders of a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs. We have the wonder of being able to walk along the streets, greet people we don’t even know (at a distance, of course) and see them smile back. After this, we will have the added wonder of more acquaintances than we had before, more conversations and opportunities to reach out. There is a togetherness which has come from these circumstances.
We talk about the recognised Wonders of the World but we have our own better wonders, within us, around us, and those which are waiting just around the corner.
Have a go at responding to this challenge, if you haven’t already, or to any of the others which exist on this site. It’s fun and your muse is waiting. Push the boundaries and see where they take you!
What sort of challenges do you enjoy?
Questions & Answers
© 2020 Ann Carr