Ruth checked her watch and chewed the inside of her mouth. The train was late. A bored voice announced a five minute delay.
She started tapping her foot and stared unseeingly at the opposite platform. Her blank gaze snagged on a dark haired child holding tight to a woman’s hand. The girl appeared to be singing. Ruth smiled despite herself. She remembered how she’d been a similar age when she’d accompanied her mother on that last journey to see her dad. She’d been bursting to show him her shiny red tap shoes. How joyous her world had been. She knew now how differently her mother must have been feeling.
Ruth sighed and wondered when the joy had first started to fade from her life. Had it been when her beloved dad had made excuses as to why she couldn’t visit so often? Or when her mother had first forgotten who she was? She could still recall that sick feeling of dread each evening when she arrived home from school. Dance lessons became a thing of the past. The ruby shoes faded. Ruth had wrapped them in old chip paper and thrown them out.
Or had the joy left with Matthew, when he’d admitted he was relieved the baby hadn’t ‘stuck’? That he’d felt their relationship had run its course. Ruth shivered inside her tweed coat. She’d already phoned to say goodbye to the only person who might miss her.
There was a flurry of movement on the platform as Ruth’s train approached. She shuffled nearer the edge of the platform.
Suddenly sunlight poured over the platform blinding Ruth. There was the old familiar smell of tobacco and mints.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard your voice on my answer phone,” her dad said. “You nearly fell,” he added.
Jane completed the Writers’ Bureau course in 2018 and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her fiction’s appeared in The People’s Friend, Yours and the Weekly News. In 2019 she was delighted to win Beaconlit Festival’s flash fiction prize. Her stories have been shortlisted in writing competitions including Retreat West and Flash500.