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

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Do You Believe In Father Christmas?

When I was eight-years old, I did the most despicable thing.

On Christmas Eve 1970, I told my five- year old sister that there was no such thing as Father Christmas. She was horrified.

Telling her that Father Christmas did not exist was the worst thing I ever did.

My mother was so angry with me. She sent me to my room.

I missed supper. I missed the carol-singers outside our house.

I missed seeing the first snowflakes of what was to be my first white Christmas. And I missed the evening of Christmas Eve, my favourite time of the year.

However, worse was to come.

I cried myself to sleep, blaming Father Christmas for what had happened.

Sometime during the night, I was woken by hands around my throat.

“You evil boy!” boomed the voice. I was too frightened to open my eyes.

“Open your eyes, boy! Do it, or you will never see Christmas again.”

He forced me to open my eyes. I don’t know how he did it but he somehow did.

I couldn’t believe what I saw.

I was shocked beyond belief. It was Father Christmas who had his hands around my throat.

“You never, never tell anyone ever again that I do not exist. Do you understand me, boy?” I tried nodding my head, despite being in complete shock.

“Good. Now, look deep into my eyes.”

Seconds later, I saw a flock of robins in his eyes and, before I knew it, they were propelled into my eyes.

The screeching sound they made hurt my ears. I could not scream for help to my mother or father because of the tightly gripped hands around my throat. I finally managed to close my eyes and the screeching robins and hands around my throat disappeared.

Terrified by what had happened, I crawled under my bed. I curled up into a tiny ball and shivered the night away. Sleep did come but only briefly.

It was the sound of laughter that woke me.

I could hear the muffled voices of my family. It was Christmas morning and they were already downstairs.

How could they have forgotten to wake me up?

I crawled out from under my bed and made my way past the open door of my bedroom. On the floor, at the top of the stairs, were two empty Christmas stockings. How could they have emptied their stockings without me?

I ran down the stairs and into the lounge, which was lit up with Christmas lights.

“Mum, Dad, Julie…I’m sorry,” I cried, but none of them took any notice of me. “Please forgive me, don’t spoil Christmas.” But it was no good, they just ignored me.

That’s when I saw the strange boy.

“Oh, that’s lovely, Hugh. Grandma sure knows how to knit Christmas jumpers,” laughed Dad, as he hugged the strange boy.

For the rest of the day, I watched as the boy with my name took my place. Nobody bothered me. Nobody even noticed I was there. It was as if I were a ghost.

I finally went to bed and cried myself to sleep. The whole family had arrived at our house and a Christmas party was in full swing.

The next morning, my mother woke me up.

“Are you feeling better, Hugh?”

“Are you talking to me?” I asked her.

“Of course, I am. Who else goes by your name in this house? Come on, it’s Boxing Day and we need to get over to Grandma’s house.”

I didn’t ever say anything to anybody about what had happened, and I didn’t see the strange-looking boy with my name again.

Well, I didn’t see him until the following Christmas Day when the whole thing happened again. And it’s happened every Christmas since then.

You see, my place is now taken by a ghost, but only on that one day of the year when I become a ghost.

I’m so happy and thankful that it’s not Christmas every day.

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

#fiction #christmas #shortstory #shortstories

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

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Moving In

“As you’re an author and writer, I thought this would be the perfect new home for you, Mr Roberts.”

“Oh, I already love it. How old is it? Of course, I’ll need to see the inside, but I like what I already see.”

#writephoto #fiction #flashfiction #shortstory
Image credit: Sue Vincent

“It’s over 200 years old. The seller has instructed me to accept any offers just below the asking price. If you make an offer today, I’ll ensure it’s taken off the market.”

“Perfect. I’m going to get so much inspiration and so many new ideas for my next novel by living here.”

***

Twenty minutes later.

“Sign here, Mr Roberts. All being well, you’ll be in tomorrow. The current resident has already left. She was delighted when I told her you were the buyer.”

“Wonderful. I hope she’ll be happy in her new place. I can’t wait to start using that huge, dark study in the attic. I wonder how long it’ll be before I have my first visitors?”

•••

It wasn’t long before I had my first visitors. Two days after moving in, I watched the new owners of my new home move in. A family of four; the two children under the age of six, they couldn’t see or hear me as I watched them unpack boxes.

The ‘Hauntings’ Estate agents had come up trumps in finding me my next place to haunt.


Written in response to the #writephoto challenge hosted by Sue Vincent at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

You’re It! #writephoto

 

#flashfiction #shortstories #fiction #writing

I’d always enjoyed walking in the fog.

There’s something about the eeriness it creates that keeps me outdoors rather than sat indoors in front of a screen.

Today was no different. I’d taken my camera with me in the hope of snapping some eerie shots that would get my creative cogs whirling.

It was just before the light gave way to the twilight that I decided I’d better go home.

Although the next day had been forecast to be another foggy day, I had decided I needed one more photo.

Turning to my left, the scene before me was perfect.

An upward slope shrouded in the fog would make the perfect photo; a photo I’d use for my next book cover.

As I focused the camera towards the top of the slope, I noticed a figure looking down at me.

#flashfiction #shortstory #writephoto
Photo credit: Sue Vincent

I immediately lowered my camera and kept my eyes focused on where the figure was standing, yet it wasn’t there.

It must have been a trick of the light, or maybe the fog?

I raised the camera again, ready to focus on the top of the foggy slope, when I was startled by what I saw in the viewfinder.

The same figure, standing there. Yet when I lowered the camera, the figure was gone.

A cold sweat swept over my entire body. That was when a plan came to me.

I aimed the camera towards the top of the slope so that if the figure appeared, I could use the viewfinder to walk towards it.

My luck was in. The figure was there, so I began my walk up the slope.

Halfway up, my arms began to ache, forcing me to bring the camera down. The ‘watcher’, as I had now named the figure, had disappeared.

Raising the camera up, the watcher, once again, appeared in the viewfinder. This time I was determined not to bring my camera down.

The ‘watcher’ became a blur as I got closer to it, but I kept walking.

By the time I reached it, nothing but a hazy, thick, off-white fog had filled the viewfinder.

Lowering the camera, I was faced with nothing but the sight of fog and the sound of waves.

Behind me, something stirred.

I span around.

“You’re it!,” were the words that came out of the mouth of the most repulsive creature I’d ever seen.

Then it pushed me.

As I fell off the edge of the cliff, towards the sounds of the crashing waves, my eyes were briefly focused on the creature as it looked down at me.

“YOU”RE IT!”, it kept on screaming.

I closed my eyes and waited for the coldness of the sea to smash into my body, yet no impact came.

When I finally got the courage to open my eyes, I found myself looking down a foggy slope, at you!

You were looking up at me through a camera and began to climb towards me.

“You’re it,” I repeatedly murmured to myself.

Will you be ‘it’ for me?

***

Written in response to the #writephoto challenge, hosted by Sue Vincent at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click here to join hundreds of other writers who have taken up the challenge.

#writephoto #writing #challenge

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