Flash fiction: Waiting Room


In the autumn of 1968 Cara Adamo alighted from the 15.47 at Napoli station. As agreed, she sat on one of the hard benches in the waiting room, her suitcase by her side and the baby – Alberto – sleeping in the crook of her arm. The 18.20 was late and the room soon filled with hot, bored and eventually, angry passengers. Cara looked up each time the door opened. At 19.05 the room emptied, leaving behind only the bitter smell of coffee. Alberto woke and cried when the 20.47 pulled in and no one entered. She fed him. At 21.17 Cara Adamo caught the train home.


This is a 100-word (or so) flash fiction story inspired by the picture (supplied this week by J Hardy Carroll). It’s part of Friday Fictioneers – a group of online writers who write and upload a weekly piece of flash fiction. Click here to join in, and here to read other people’s.


I asked Lutyens & Rubinstein, an independent bookshop in Notting Hill, London some questions.

46 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Waiting Room

  1. I like how you can make so much of a story that is just a glimpse, and still create a story in my head… I can only guess who she waited for, and I have to guess what happened before and afterward…still the story becomes complete.


  2. I was so upset for her, and felt the disappointment, her weariness in that oppressive place… it never even occurred to me that she may not have taken Alberto with her. I thought he was important to her and the story since you gave us his name.


  3. What a wonderful, brilliantly constructed story. You hint at so much on such – we want to know why she was there, who she was supposed to meet and what they were doing. Where’s her husband? What happened to the person she’s supposed to meet? Questions, questions. Brilliantly done. Love how all of our takes on the same pic are so different. Great stuff


  4. I love pretty much anything you write, Claire, but I’m constantly impressed with what you do in 100 words! The use of the time is compelling and really pulled me in, as a reader. The words “as agreed,” left me hanging, as was Cara; this is just spellbinding.

    One thought: the term “waiting room” through me out of the story for a moment. I think of a waiting room as a hospital, or something other than a train station. I had to re-read it. I think “station” would work as well, and not confuse. A thought, in an otherwise incredible story.


  5. There’s so much in this to set the imagination going. Who’s she waiting for, what will happen to them both now whoever they were waiting for hasn’t arrived?


  6. I am definitely wondering about the baby and the words, “as agreed.” So much to think about. I really sensed the atmosphere and all the waiting and watching of time. Great piece, Claire.


  7. So sad. In my reading she’s unmarried and just now learns the father has rejected her and is denying that Alberto is his. She and the baby are returning home to mother who will say, “I told you so.” But I suspect I’m being pessimistic. He could have missed his train.


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  9. Great story, Claire. I could imagine her disappointment. It’s terrible to be kept waiting, especially when the person never shows up for one reason or another. It’s so sad that she may have left the baby there. Well written as always. —- Suzanne


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