Flash Fiction: Man on Train

ceayr3

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.

 

Flash fiction: Waiting Room

jhc7

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.

Short story: Not Searching

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First I knew, text didn’t send. Searching, phone said. Nothing to worry about, right? Then someone’s conversation cut out.

Five minutes later damn train slowed and stopped. Took a while for even that to register. I learnt that people will sit in silence for a long time before complaining.

‘Daddy, why we stopped in the middle of nowhere?’

Guard didn’t come. No announcement.

Three hours ‘til we broke into the driver’s compartment.

After a day buffet car’s kitchen was as empty as the scenery.

Two days – search party left; didn’t never come back.

Took us a week to finish the water…

***

This is a 100-word(ish) story for Friday Fictioneers brought to us by the wonderful writer Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, and the picture this week is supplied by the writer, Jennifer Pendergast. Click here to join in with Friday Fictioneers, or here to read other people’s.

***

Last week I was delighted to learn that my novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, has been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize – a UK prize for debuts novels.

A book blogger at Word By Word is running a competition to win a copy of Our Endless Numbered Days. Anyone anywhere in the world can enter and it closes on 12th April.