Passengers to Thurso

Initially the short story below started out from this Free Write Friday prompt (follow the link), but kind of got away from me, and grew from a letter to a parcel/package/journal, leading potentially to mystery, and intrigue as to where the story might go. So here below is the start which beamed its own beginning.

Railway line

In a rush, think I’m going to be late for the train, this blasted rain, the wind is turning me into a ditherer all in a rush. That’s when it happened you see, not watching where I was going, and oops, bowled straight into her. The small parcel the lady is carrying, tumbles from her hands, so I pick it up just as a rather large policeman picks me up.

“Well, where do you think you’re off to then lad?” asks a senior constable of the Edinburgh police.

“I say sir, might I have my feet upon the earth once more, and might I be able to return this to the lady.” Holding the small package out to the well-dressed lady, “I am most sorry miss, and I apologise whole heartedly, to of collided with you at such an unfortunate time, for I am in a rush to catch the train to Inverness, and then onto Thurso.”

The policemen places my feet back on the ground, as the girl standing opposite me with her umbrella, stares blank faced right through me, and replies. “Good sir, I accept your apology, for I am on my way to catch a train to Thurso too. The senior constable here is escorting me there now, you can join us if you wish, but first tell me. Where do you come from, for your accent gives you away as not coming from these Isles.”

The woman I’ve run into is blind, her eyes seem almost as cold as the rain, but her voice fills with warmth, oh I feel such the fool even more now, for she can not see the parcel in offer back to her. Within the few short moments that follow, we exchange names, greetings, and of my world so different from here, the Pacific, and Southern Oceans.

Here, off we go now to the train station, the three and half of us, together chatting as we go, until soon we’ve made it just in time for our departure to Thurso via Inverness. Leah’s police escort bids us farewell, and so we board, though I still do not know her business in Thurso, nor does she of mine. Perhaps it is a good thing, for once I arrive there I’ve no time to waste for I then need charter a boat to the Isle of Brisay. So here’s hope a fisherman might help me, as it will be late when we arrive in Thurso.

I ask as we step up into the carriage, if I might guide her to the compartment she will be travelling in, “Leah, might I guide you to your compartment?”

“Certainly, kind sir,” Leah pulls the ticket from the sleeve of her dress, takes me by the hand, and says, “Lead on.” It turns out we are to be travelling in the same compartment, so off we set, up the passageway to 4B.  On entering the compartment, we find two other passengers already seated, a professor from the University of Edinburgh and his wife.

“Good day fine sir, madam.” Leah settles in to her seat, as I stow both our hand luggage, for the rest had been sent on ahead, and is in the baggage carriage.

“Well good day to you too sir, a fine day it is to be travelling through the countryside out of the weather in a train carriage, I say.”

I smile at the professor, and sit down next to Leah, and the parcel she has now wrapped her fingers in the string of, as she seems to look blankly into the space of her surrounds. Soon the train gets underway after the stationmaster makes the last calls, and the sound of a blown whistle pitch fills the air, though from this point on, it seems like ages, but eventually we clear the fringes to Edinburgh.

The professor’s wife, whom has been engrossed in the latest book by Charles Dickens’s ever since we entered the compartment, looks up to greet Leah. “Would you like a book to read, dear? I have brought plenty along.

“Leah shakes her head, “No, I am fine, thank you.”

“A gift? asks the professor.

Leah sits there in her quiet to the world, with her head turned looking out the window, imagining what the world might look like outside, as thoughts of everything she has ever touched, tasted, smelt, listened too, fill her mind.

“Oh this, no. It is from my brother, the postmaster told me this morning as I collected the parcel. My same brother whose body I journey to go collect in Thurso this sad day.” A small tear weeps from the corner of Leah’s left eye.

“So sorry dear,” says the professor’s wife.

“Pardon my intrusion, I did not mean to upset you,” says the professor.

“Leah, are you okay, I did not know, and here I knocked the parcel from your hands into the mud, and rain of the street.”

“That’s alright everyone,” says Leah, as she slows in the moment to slip the string from the package to then open the plain mud stained waxed brown paper to reveal a couple of photographs, and a dark leather bound journal, with intricate embossing on the front, and spine.

6 responses to “Passengers to Thurso

  1. “In a rush, think I’m going to be late for the train, this blasted rain, the wind is turning me into a ditherer all in a rush.”

    You’ve packed them in, Sean – and in the very first sentence too.

    All the best with this series (?)

    • I want more too, Sky! Thanks, there will be a little waiting for this one, as it has its own legs, and will let me know when it ready to start walking again.

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