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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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.

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