'Waiting' by Cathy White


A man in a grey suit stands near the edge of the platform. He is alone until a girl wearing a red polka dot dress runs up the stairs. Panting, she stops and listens to the tannoy announcement.
‘We apologise for the late arrival of the twenty-one thirty-seven to Brighton which should be arriving at platform one in approximately five minutes.’
She turns to the man in the grey suit.
‘Thank God it’s running late, I thought I’d missed it,’ she says.
He says nothing.
She speaks again. ‘I hope it arrives soon though, I have to get to the hospital.’
The man looks up.
            ‘Are you a nurse?’ he says.
            ‘No, my mum’s in hospital. She’s got cancer.’
            ‘I’m sorry to hear that. I hope she gets better soon.’
            ‘Not much chance of that, I’m afraid. They’re moving her into a hospice in a couple of days.’
            ‘I’m so sorry.’
            ‘She’s coping brilliantly. I think I would have given up by now.’
            ‘You don’t seem to be coping too badly yourself.’
            ‘Well, what’s the point in dwelling on things? There’s always someone worse off than you, isn’t there? Oh, here’s the train, at last.’
            The man moves closer to the platform.
            The train rumbles down the track and stops. The man steps away from the platform and turns towards the exit.
            ‘You not getting on?’ she says.
            He shakes his head, crumples up the note in his pocket addressed to his wife and throws it onto the tracks.

Comments

  1. Very nicely done - a casual conversation that, unknowing, turns the tide.

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