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Sara Pascoe - Thursday, May 22, 2014 

short story with a train in it

Sara Pascoe - Thursday, May 22, 2014

“Because you’re bored and it’s boring me” The Girl shouted at the mirror. Her reflection went all blotchy so we must assume that her actual face went blotchy too. 

The Girl was always looking in the mirror…she went there with the intention of smiling and saying positive things to cheer herself up. She had read in a magazine that this practice would ‘alleviate depression and raise the spirits’. The magazine hadn’t said what rowing with yourself and vowing ‘never to speak to yourself ever again’ would do, but The Girl certainly felt very lonely right now.

The Girl had just been explaining to herself that she was planning to go on an adventure, and herself kept saying how she didn’t want to go. “You have to go” The Girl snapped at herself “I’ve booked the train ticket now”.

The Girl has been feeling lonely lately. She figured that this was because all the people she knew had gone away to a festival by the sea. They would all be partying and laughing and no one had invited her. The actual reason she was lonely was because she had been born with it. Like some girls are born with hairy bellies or big eyes. Herself knew this and kept trying to tell The Girl, but she wouldn’t listen.

“My minds made up. We are going on an adventure. We’ll find the others and hang out with them. We’ll read a really clever book on the train and educate our minds. And we’ll eat sandwiches that we have spent ages making and that taste really special. And on the journey, we’ll look out of the windows at the world and its trees rushing past and think to ourselves…’this is it. This is living’! And we’ll feel all brave and happy.”

Herself didn’t bother replying. She knew that The Girl’s mind was made up because she had said so.

And that’s how that afternoon, our heroine (and The Girl) ended up on a train. They ate sandwiches that were quite nice. They looked out of the window where it was a bit grey. They passed a cow. The Girl tried to feel brave and excited, passing a cow on a train, but it was all a bit silly. Herself was still sulking and not talking to her. “Maybe adventures only start being fun when you arrive” The Girl mused, because right now she had never felt more alone. The world inside the train was rigid and cold, and strangers were loud and her phone had run out of battery.

The Girl opened her eyes really wide and looked upwards because she had read that this exercise made you feel instantly more positive. It didn’t.

“Your eyes are broken” she told herself “that’s why you can’t see all the reasons to be happy that other people can”.

They arrived all in one piece. And what was that? The girl could feel a cloud gently lifting…it was snowing…it had started to snow, the sea was crystal beautiful and…all those people, dancing…laughing…some of them would be her friends. They would drink! They would forget! They would live!

“I AM ALIVE!” The Girl screamed inside her head and started looking.

The first friend the girl found was Peter. He was just inside the gates with a big group and he was all relaxed and smiling. Peter had used to work at The Cinema with The Girl. He was nice, he said it was good to see her, but he didn’t introduce her to the people he was with. The Girl didn’t know them so she said “I’m going to go and find my friends”.
“What does that make me?” joked Peter. And The Girl knew he was joking because he winked.

The next people The Girl found were Lorna and Claire. They were dancing on a podium, all thin and carefree. “Hey” they mouthed down at her as they danced. The Girl danced on the floor, looking up at them. She smiled as she swung her arms…she was having a nice time. “Who did you come down with?” shouted Lorna.
“Oh, just some friends” lied The Girl. “I’d better go and find them” she lied some more. The girl couldn’t tell Lorna and Claire that she had come with herself, because then they might guess that she was lonely.

The Girl wandered a bit. A bit like that cloud, in that poem (you know the one, about the wandering cloud that was lonely), and then she talked a bit to a man who she had never met before. She even had a sip of his beer and pretended to flirt with him. “This is it” she said to herself “I’m having a good time”. Herself couldn’t hear because the music was too loud, this was probably a good thing as herself’s reply would only have been facetious, as usual.

Then suddenly, The Girl saw a whole gang of people she knew and she joined them. There was Cheryl and Tony and Vanessa and Greg and Jamie and she knew them. They were from her old school. They were all drunk and screeching but it was fun for a bit. She danced with them and chatted for a while, but she thought she had probably best keep moving because she hadn’t found her real friends yet.

The Girl walked again. She saw Lorna in the queue for the toilets, but she was on the phone so The Girl didn’t interrupt her.

Then, oh my god, The Girl bumped into Tommy, her ex boyfriend. He was on his own too, but he looked like he was waiting for someone. It was quite awkward. “Hello” “hello” they said. “How are you?” “How are you?” they asked. And then Lorna approached from behind Tommy. She put her arms around his waist, and kissed his neck, and then looked to see who he was talking to. “Oh” thought The Girl’s heart, and she walked away quickly.

The Girl walked for a while. Only looking inside at her upset. Not looking for people anymore. She noted that it was getting foggy. The Girl narrated in her head to stop Herself from crying. “okay, so it’s getting foggy and your feet are getting cold, and look, that girl is a good dancer and Lorna is a fucking bitch and hello, they’ve brought a dog with them what a nice dog and I wish I hadn’t given up smoking.”

And then The Girl bumped into John and Nick and Katie, and they gave her a beer and a cigarette and they weren’t that chatty but they did smile when she caught their eye and they seemed really nice but The Girl wasn’t really having fun anymore. “I think I had more fun with the guys from school” The Girl thought, and went off to find them.

The Girl weaved in and out of people. She separated kissing couples, and blundered through sitting circles and she saw fires in the distance and knew that she was getting cold. The Girl saw Dan, who she had worked with at a different cinema. She said “hi” but he didn’t seem to know who she was so The Girl kept walking. She looked for the gang of school friends, but they had moved. She went back to find Katie and that lot, but she couldn’t see them. There were less and less people dancing.

“This isn’t fun” The Girl thought. “This is just searching…I will stay where I am, and then maybe somebody will find me”.

So The Girl danced with Herself. On some sand. Near some people. “Now I’m really living” She told herself. “Dancing in the mist with strangers”. And then it started to snow!


“SNOW!” everyone around was saying. And people put out their hands and watched the snow flakes land and melt and they laughed.

“How joyous!” The Girl lied to herself. “Snow” She shouted to no one, and no-one listened as the snow continued to fall.

The Girl wanted to dance again, but her feet were too cold now. It was dark when she looked around. And foggy. And there was no one that she knew. The Girl chased a figure in the distance that she thought was Peter, but it wasn’t Peter.

“I’d better go back to the station” The Girl thought, admitting defeat finally. “You tried your best” she told herself. “You did” said Herself, feeling sorry for The Girl now.
“I gave it my best shot, but I’m giving up now” said The Girl.
“We had a good time though didn’t we? It was worth it? Wasn’t it?” asked Herself, who was always trying to see the positive in things.

The Girl wanted to be honest. “Not really, no.” she thought. “I was only ever just pretending”.

“Sometimes you even tricked me” Herself said.

The Girl sat down and wondered if to trick one’s self was a good or a bad thing. She sat on her own. She felt cold and the absence of others. Where were all the others?

Peter was in a hotel doing sex with a girl called Helen who would regret it as soon as she was sober. And Katie was with Ben, singing Blondie songs round a fire with some older people. Nick was having a wee. Lorna and Tom were slow dancing in the snow-it was a very romantic for them. Cheryl and Vanessa and all the school gang were back on the train. They had work in the morning and thought that snow was for babies.

There were lots of people around, all over the place, and all doing all kinds of different things and nobody really realised what it was like to be someone else.

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