Last Train To Aldwych – A Short Story For VE Day

Nobody noticed Grace Simmons.

She sat on her own in the second carriage of the London underground train which had just come to a halt at Aldwych station.

Further down the carriage, party goers got off the train and she could hear the sounds of their laughter fade as they exited from the station platform. The only evidence that they’d ever been there were the empty beer bottles and fast-food wrappers which littered the carriage floor.

Dressed in her blue, floral, hour-glass vintage dress from the nineteen forties, she waited patiently. It wouldn’t be long before the music started, and they could dance again.

She held on tightly to the jet-black leather handbag he had given to her one Christmas. Such a happy day, one full of laughter and happiness. It had only been the two of them that day – the best Christmas she’d ever had.

The lights flickered briefly on the station platform. He would be here soon. The station was quiet, and she wondered what he would think of her when he saw her again. He hadn’t aged at all, but the wrinkles on her face, along with a head of grey hair, had aged her so much.

However, she always took plenty of time preparing herself for the meeting she had with him on the same date every year.

Then, the faint sound of music came to her ears and her heart began to beat faster. She dared not move until he came to her and asked her if she would like to dance.

The lights flickered inside the train carriage as the music became a little louder. She recognised the tune: Glenn Miller’s ‘Moonlight Serenade’.

It was their tune, the one they had first danced to at this very station the first time they had met.

Suddenly, she heard the sound of footsteps. Were they his? She hoped so; it had been such a long time since they had last danced.

As her heart beat faster, Grace remembered their wedding day. Her mother had helped her make her dress and when he’d finally seen her in it, she knew she had taken his breath away.

“Your eyes shine like the brightest stars in the night sky,” he’d said. “You are my guiding light. I am the luckiest man alive.”

She dared not look up, just yet, in case the footsteps were not his.

Twice before, the footsteps had belonged to the station manager who had explained that this was the last train to Aldwych, and she needed to leave the station.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw the shadow of a man and hoped with all her heart that it was Ernest. The shadow grew longer as it passed the open carriage doors. Then the footsteps were no more.

“Would you like to dance?”

Raising her head slowly, tears came to her eyes as she saw him again.

He looked so handsome in his army uniform. His wavy black hair had not lost its colour and his handsome boyish features looked the same as they had on their wedding day.

His deep blue eyes gazed at her as he held out his arms towards her. For a moment she could not move, but the music gradually released her and she moved towards him.

She tried to say his name, but the words would not come. He held a finger to her mouth. There was no need to say anything; they were together again.

He lowered his finger from her lips as she stepped out of the carriage. After placing her handbag on the platform floor, she looked up at him.

Holding out his arms, she took hold of his right hand and rested the other on the small of his back. They started to dance, never once taking their eyes away from each other. They dared not look away for fear that this was all a dream and that it would end quickly if either one of them awoke.

Sounds of laughter, singing and clapping came to them and, from above, the distant sounds of explosions. Nobody else was there to witness the love and happiness which had come to Aldwych station.

They could feel the love all around them as they danced together. For a few precious moments they were the happiest people in the world.

A slight breeze blew along the platform, its hot air circling at her legs. With it came the front of a discarded newspaper. She looked down as it came towards them and tried to kick it away, but it became stuck to one of the heels of her shoes. She dared not let him go and tears once again came to her as she looked into his eyes. He smiled back at her.

“I will always love you, Grace.”

She looked down again as the music began to fade.

Lowering her arms to her side, she did not want to look up to see if he was still there for she knew this would be the last time they would meet. The love and joy which had just been there with them had now turned to sadness and sorrow. She bent down and removed the newspaper. Her eyes took in the date.

Friday, 30th September 1994.

Underneath, the headline read –

Last Train to Aldwych.
Station To Finally Close Down For Good – Tonight.

That night, Grace Simmons took the ten-minute walk back to The Strand Palace Hotel and died peacefully in her sleep.

Some still say that when walking past the boarded-up building that was once the entrance to Aldwych underground station, they can hear the faint sounds of a nineteen-forties band playing Glenn Miller’s ‘Moonlight Serenade’. Others claim to have heard the rumble of an underground train as if it were pulling into the station.

For Grace and Ernest, their dance still goes on.


Story taken from the short story collection Glimpses – Available on Amazon.

#books

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Double Eighteen – A Short Story For Valentine’s Day

It was love at first sight.

Quentin fell in love with Maureen the moment he set eyes on her. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and was perfect in every shape and form. The shocked expression on Maureen’s face when he first introduced himself had not in the least put him off.

Quentin could not remember which of his friends it was that had organised the blind date, but he had a lot of thanking to do. He was sure a few pints down the local pub would be a nice way to say how very grateful he was for the introduction to Maureen.

He saw a wonderful future ahead for both Maureen and himself, although the thought of getting married, at this stage, was probably a little bit too ahead of its time. Besides, he hadn’t met Maureen’s parents yet and, whilst his father had taken a shine to Maureen, he wasn’t so sure what his mother thought.

Three months later, as Maureen sat on the only chair in Quentin’s bedroom, Quentin couldn’t take his eye off her as he got ready for their night out. He had promised her a spectacular evening and pretended he could read her mind as he looked into her big blue eyes.

Going down to The Legend of Oily Johnny’s pub was probably not Maureen’s idea of a spectacular night out, thought Quentin. She’d, in all probability, rather spend an evening in with him. However, considering how well he’d looked after her since they had first met, she wouldn’t want to spoil his fun down the pub, would she? After all, the rest of his friends would be there and even if some of their so-called female friends only ever seemed to laugh at her, Quentin always made sure he looked after her and told her that he loved her at the end of every night.

He knew, too, that she’d even had to refuse several advances and a little bit too much attention from his best friend, Duncan Donuts, but Quentin knew that Maureen only had eyes for him, and nobody else.

“The white one or the blue one?” asked Quentin, as he looked over to Maureen. “Which one looks the best on me?

Holding both shirts to his chest, Quentin paused for a moment. “No need to answer, Maureen. I’ll wear the blue one, so it matches your beautiful eyes. We’re gonna knock ‘em dead tonight. I’m so lucky to have found somebody like you.”

Forty minutes later, Maureen was sat in the bar of The Legend of Oily Johnny. The place was packed out. There had never been so many people crammed into it before, but then there had never been a darts match offering a prize of a Valentine’s romantic weekend for two, in Paris, before. No wonder it was so busy.

Whilst Quentin knew that Maureen didn’t play darts, because he knew she thought it a rather dangerous sport, he knew she was happy to watch him throw the arrows towards the board. Every time the referee, Horace Cope, a man who believed he could foretell the future, shouted out ‘one hundred and eighty’ when he threw the arrows, Quentin knew that he and Maureen were one step nearer to going to Paris. They’d never been to Paris before, although Quentin often talked about going there.

Gladys Boise, a party girl who was a little bit too free and loose for most people’s liking, sat down next to Maureen just as the darts match was coming to its climactic end.

Forcing Maureen to move to an empty chair, Gladys did all she could to try and put Quentin off from scoring double eighteen to win the match and the trip to Paris. She wanted her radio DJ boyfriend, Mike Raffone, who was also a keen karaoke singer, to win the match. Mike only needed to score a double five to win, but here was Quentin, with his final dart, only needing to score a double eighteen.

The bar became strangely quiet as Quentin lined up his dart. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Maureen, who had now stood up and was just to the left of the dartboard.

Maureen was looking so sexy this evening and the thought of what lay ahead after the darts match, when they got home, started to make Quentin’s blood pressure rise. He had to win the trip to Paris, if not for him, then for the woman who had brought him so much pleasure over the last three months.

The shirt Quentin had chosen to wear was the perfect fit, and he felt like a million dollars in it. This was going to be his night. This was going to be Maureen’s night. This was going to be their night.

As the first bead of sweat trickled down his back, Quentin pulled his hand back slightly before flicking it towards the dartboard. However, just before leaving the gentle grip of his two fingers and thumb, Gladys let out an almighty sneeze causing Quentin to lose concentration.

As the whole bar held their breath, Quentin watched in horror as the dart moved in slow motion towards Maureen. The shocked expression on Maureen’s face told the regulars of the pub, that the dart was not going to hit its intended target of the double eighteen slot. Instead, they watched in disbelief as the dart made its way towards the woman who had brought so much pleasure into Quentin’s life.

“Noooooooooo!” shouted Quentin, as the dart made contact with Maureen’s left breast while, at the same time, huge smiles developed across the faces of Gladys Boise and Mike Raffone.

For a few moments, all eyes were on Maureen who had not flinched. You could have heard one of Gladys’ false eyelashes fall to the floor as everyone in the bar held their breath. Then, to the complete shock of some of the customers in the bar, everyone watched as Maureen gave off a slow hissing sound as she slowly doubled up and bent for-ward towards the floor.

Not even the offer of a puncture repair kit from local plumber, Duane Pipes, could now save the romance of Maureen and Quentin. Inflatable girlfriends were expensive to buy.

Two months later, Quentin had forgotten all about Maureen, after meeting his new girlfriend, Helen Highwater, who had seen it all and survived.

They lived happily ever after.


Story taken from the short story collection More Glimpses – Available on Amazon.

#books

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Where Do Your Ideas For Stories And Blog Posts Come From?

When I wrote my first short story, shortly after I started blogging in February 2014, I never gave much thought of where the idea for the story had come from. 

However, I remember the moment the story came to me and, since then, I’ve never really talked about it a lot. Why? Because it could have been the visit from a ghost that gave me the idea.  

There I was, ironing the third of seven shirts, and up walked Grace Simmons demanding that I write and publish her story on my blog.

Are the characters in our fiction the ghosts of our imagination?

Somehow, Grace had managed to get her story into my head and, within seconds, I’d abandoned the ironing board for the keyboard. 

An hour later, I’d written Grace’s story, published it on my blog, and the first comment had come in. Smiling, I thanked Grace, who had long disappeared to wherever it was she had come from, and I returned to the ironing board wondering if I’d just been visited by a ghost.

Who is Grace Simmons, and what is her story?

Grace is a character from, Last Train To Aldwych, the first story in my book, Glimpses.

What I’m not sure about is whether Grace Simmons is a ghost who visited me. I can’t say I physically saw her, yet the image of her is firmly embedded in my mind

About the story.

A journey on the London Underground takes Grace Simmons to an annual encounter with a ghost she always meets at Aldwych Station on the same date every year. However, with the prospect of further meetings never being able to take place, Grace must ensure that this final meeting is one where she and the ghost will never part.

I’ve often wondered if the story was born from an idea, an experience, or if I was just lucky enough to have stumbled upon it. Then again, was it told to me by the ghost of Grace Simmons?

#Glimpses #books #shortstories #fiction #scifi
Glimpses – The First Collection of short stories and flash fiction by Hugh W. Roberts

Grace’s story has not only had some wonderful reviews, but it is the story that went on to launch many more short stories from me. My readers loved the story and encouraged me to write more.

Where do lost ideas end up?

I don ‘t know about you (and I hate to say this), but many of the ideas I get for blog posts and short stories find their way to the ‘Door of the Forgotten.’ 

Why? Because I fail to write them down. 

Within seconds of arriving, an idea can be flying towards that open door, with me failing to pursue it. In this modern world of technology, you’d think that should never be allowed to happen, yet it still does. 

Many of the other short stories in my books came to me from ideas I’d get after reading writing prompts, participating in writing challenges, or by looking at photos. 

Even reading comments on a blog post can spark off ideas for short stories and blog posts. Some come to me within seconds, whereas some ideas can take weeks to reveal themselves. 

The mystery of Grace Simmons.

To this day, Grace Simmons remains a mystery to me. When asked, I still cannot answer the question ‘where did the idea for ‘Last Train To Aldwych’ come from?

For those of who not familiar with Aldwych, it was a station on the London Underground from 1907 until 1994.

#transport #London
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

When I sit down and think about it, one of the first things that come to mind is the number of times I had walked past Aldwych underground station in London. 

The office I worked in was a few minutes walk away, and I’d often visit the station at lunchtime to buy a cheese and pickle sandwich. 

Just inside the station was the sandwich kiosk that, to this day, made the best cheese and pickle sandwiches I’d ever tasted.

Another mystery. 

I’d enjoy talking to Margaret, the lady that owned and ran the kiosk, and most weekdays we’d catch up on our daily lives while trying to put the world to right.

It was a sad day when the station closed and even more tragic that on my way back to the office that day, I lost Margaret’s phone number. 

On the evening of 30th September 1997, by the time I realised I’d lost the piece of paper she’d written her home phone number on, Margaret and her cheese and pickle sandwiches were long gone.

I tried many avenues to find her, but all to no avail. 

The mystery of Margaret’s disappearance is as much a mystery to me, as where the idea for ‘Last Train To Aldwych‘ came from. 

Then again, did those daily visits to Margaret plant the idea for the story deep within my mind, only for it to resurface into a story many years later? 

Margaret had, after all, told me stories about her and her family and how they would shelter in Aldwych underground station during the blitz of World War 2. 

The following film was shot on the day that the last train to Aldwych actually ran. Can you spot Grace amongst the last passengers who made that journey with her?

Have I, at last, solved the mystery of ‘Last Train To Aldwych‘?

You can read ‘Last Train To Aldwych‘ in Glimpses, my first collection of short stories.

Click here to buy a copy.

Where do your ideas for blog posts and short stories come from? Share them with us in the comments.  

This was a guest post originally published on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. It has been edited and updated since its first publication.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Are the Strangers in Your Dreams Real People or just Figures of your Imagination?

A few week’s ago I kicked off a blog tour for the launch of my new book, More Glimpses. My first stop was at the blog of author, writer, and blogger Debby Kaye, where I was given a terrific welcome.

The guest posts I’ve written for the blog tour all come from some of the characters found in the stories in More Glimpses. Click the link below to meet Jane Collins, who appears in the story The Jump. She asks an interesting question that may have you questioning who appears in your dreams.

Guest Author Hugh Roberts Launching More Glimpses

#MoreGlimpses #books #shortstories

My thanks to Debby for inviting me to use her blog for the tour.

I’ve closed comment here. Please leave any comments over on Debby’s blog.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Why Books And Libraries Can Be Terrifying Places

Every time I walk into my local library to pick up some recycling bags, I feel like I’m entering a world that doesn’t want me there. Or is it that I don’t want to be there?

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

For me, libraries can be terrifying places. Just like picking up a book and opening it can be a terrifying prospect. As an author and writer, you’d think that both would be something I’d get a lot of pleasure from.

Why I’m terrified of libraries and books?

Dyslexia – that’s the answer. As somebody who is dyslexic, reading and writing are two things I have always found difficult. When I enter the library and am faced with all those books that can introduce me to new characters and transport me to different worlds, I feel like a big door is being slammed shut right in front of me. Why? Because I know that I would find it difficult reading many of the books on the shelves.

How does being dyslexic affect me?

Being dyslexic affects me in many different ways. For example, I often find myself struggling to know what a word or its meaning is. Even when I try saying the sounds the letters make as they appear in a word, it doesn’t always come to me. Struggling on a word in the middle of a sentence can literally stop me on my reading track and, sometimes, make me feel a failure. It’s as if the word is some sort of barrier preventing me from carrying on reading.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Occasionally, when I pick up a book, I find myself coming across too many words that I don’t understand. They can be the simplest of words, yet my brain can not work out what the word actually is.

If I have to go back to the beginning of a page or chapter because I don’t understand the plot or what’s going on, I will almost certainly give up on the book. I may have another go, but more often than not I will never pick up that book again.

It’s not only about reading

When it comes to writing, one of the strangest things dyslexia does to me is not putting certain letters in the correct order. I seem to struggle if a word has both an ‘A’ and ‘C’ in it. For example, I can write the word ‘because’ in a blog post lots of times, yet Grammarly will underline every ‘because’ I’ve written because I’ve incorrectly spelt it. It’s always the ‘A’ and ‘C’ in the wrong order. I have trouble with other words where ‘A’ and ‘C’ follow each other too.

Not all is lost

I’m pleased to say that I don’t have problems reading all the books on my ‘TBR’ pile. I seem to go through peaks and dips with them. Recently, after reading a book review by author and blogger Teri Polen, I read ‘Call Drops‘ by John F. Leonard.

Not only did I get pulled into the story quickly, but I also whizzed through it in two sittings. Maybe it was the way the book had been written, but I didn’t struggle with any of it. It was the first book I’d read from start to finish in a while. Of course, I also left reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for it.

Am I reading another book?

You bet. I’m currently reading, and enjoying, The Jack Lockwood Diaries by Geoffrey David West.

A library was the setting for a piece of flash fiction from my first collection of short stories, Glimpses. Set in the future, it’s a story about a teacher who takes her pupils to a library where she reveals the truth behind the disappearance of trees.

Story #28: The Library – by Hugh W. Roberts


“And this is the library.”
The students stood open-mouthed.
“So, these are books?”
“Yes, these are books, Trudy.”
“How many are there, Mrs Millar?” inquired Tommy.
“Nobody has ever counted, but we think several million,” replied the teacher as she nodded slowly. “And paper is what every one of these books has in common.”
“So, this is the main reason why all the trees disappeared from Planet Earth?” asked Trudy.
Mrs Millar continued to nod her head while admiring the books.
“Yes, and each and every one of the authors that was alive when the last of the trees disappeared, was put to death for the crime they committed,” smiled the teacher.

Click here to buy Glimpses.

Happy endings

I allowed dyslexia to suppress my love of writing for far too long. In February 2014, when I published my first blog post, I felt like I had conquered it. Maybe I can do the same with reading books and visiting my local library?

I’ve often heard it said that people with dyslexia have unique imaginations. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s been a happy ending for me.

©hughsviewsandnews.com

Now it’s over to you

Are you dyslexic? How do you manage with your reading and writing? What book are you reading at the moment? Tell me about them by leaving me a comment.

This post is my entry to the Sunday Stills challenge, hosted by Terri Webster Schrandt. This week’s theme is ‘For the Love of Reading and Books.’ Click here for full details.

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