Flash Fiction: Man on Train


The man sits beside me, his suited belly pressed against the table, his laptop open, a mouse plugged in. The train sways and we all sway with it. The man pulls a handkerchief from his trouser pocket, sneezes into it and blows his nose vigorously. Five minutes later: handkerchief, sneeze, blow. And again. The fourth time the sneeze comes unexpectedly with only his hand to contain it. From the corner of my eye I see him run the length of his tie between his fingers. His hand hovers over his computer mouse, considering, then he holds it and clicks.


I’ve missed several weeks of Friday Fictioneers – just been too busy. It’s meant to be a short short story inspired by the photo, but this week I have written a scene of 100 words, which is much easier to do than a story, so I’m cheating really (or just easing myself back in gently). Join in here and write your own 100-word flash fiction, or read some other writers’. This week the picture is provided by C.E.Ayr, and the whole is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.


Swimming Lessons

My second novel, Swimming Lessons, will be published in January 2017 in the UK, and Canada, and February 2017 in the USA. Click on the country links to pre-order.


54 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Man on Train

  1. It may be a scene, but it’s a story as well. One can assume all sorts of things to follow. Is the man on the train Patient Zero who infects the world with a pernicious virus that decimates the population, or is he a notorious hacker who is taking down a government? The observer has no reason to note him otherwise, so it naturally draws our interest. I love how he discretely uses his tie as a second handkerchief. Well written as always. Glad to see you back. I hope you’ll participate in http://www.whatpegmansaw.com sometime, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, I wouldn’t want to be sat anywhere near him! Always sneeze into your own elbow or armpit, I was told – contains the germs. Now he’ll have spread that to everyone on the train. Beautifully visualised and described, Claire – felt as if I was sitting next to you!
    Good to see you back and I do hope you don’t come done with that cold!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha great observation. As someone who suffers from allergies I have some sympathy for him – what do you do when you’ve used all the tissues you had and are still sneezing? So long as you don’t sit in the seat after him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great snapshot that set my stomach churning. I thought when I was reading the story that it must really have happened and I gather from other comments that it did. I can’t help thinking the tie will never see the inside of a washing machine!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The writer’s revenge! Hope you didn’t pick up anything more than these vivid observations on the train.
    PS My own train FF somehow took me to a place not everyone will recognise, but I know you will! Hop over if you have time.


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