Writing Prompt – Stranger on a Train

(edit: I just realised that I completely forgot to put a title.. duhh)

This is a first draft of a short story written using this prompt from Creative Writing Prompts. – who make the Writing Maps. It needs work, but I quite like it.

Write about an act of kindness in the city. Really explore it. A helping hand, a word of praise, offering a seat, spare change, saying “thank you.” Write about that act and what interests you (or your character) about it. Explore the linguistics, the repercussions, the memories it evokes.

It’s called – Stranger on a train. – Enjoy!

“Shit shit shit I’m late,” I said grabbing my keys off the side and running out the door. It slammed behind me, and as I went to run down the steps I heard a loud ripping noise. I turned around to see that I’d left half of my skirt in the door behind me.

“Well that’s just great,” I said shielding my bum as I fumbled for the right key to get back in.

I ran back into the house, leaving the door open and grabbed a pencil skirt from the top of the clean washing pile. It needed ironing, but I figured I could smooth it out on the train.

“Ok, let’s try again,” I said taking a deep breath as I stepped back into the daylight.

I walked slowly to the train station – I’d missed my train now anyway. My plan was to get into the city early enough for a coffee in a quiet cafe before my job interview, so I could prepare. I’d spent the whole evening preparing. But I was still a nervous wreck, and I’m sure the cat must’ve turned off the alarm or something.

When I got the train station it was empty, apart from an elderly lady feeding cookies to her tiny dog and a guy in a hoody bent over his paper. “Yeh, everyone’s probably on the train I was supposed to be getting,” I said to myself.

I checked the board for the next train. “Blank,” I sighed. “Of course.”

I casually walked past the lady with the dog, hoping to ask her if she was getting on the train to Birmingham. Then her tiny little dog went mad. It dived off her lap, straight at my legs, laddering my tights.

“Get off you crazy dog,” I shouted, trying to shake it off.

“She was only playing,” the lady scowled at me, picking up her dog and walking t the other end of the platform.

“Crazy devil dog,” I muttered under my breath.

I decided to just sit and wait for the next train. If it came at the opposite platform I’d just have to run. The man in the hoody looked up at me, then down at my legs, and chuckled. “That dog did a right number on your leg,” he said.

“I noticed thank you,”

I opened my bag, no train pass. I opened my purse, no money.

“Is there a problem Miss?” asked the ticket inspector.

“I think I’ve lost my pass, and I’ve got no money on me,” I said.

“Well these trains don’t run for free,” he said standing over me.

“I know I know,” I stuttered rummaging in my bag, “There must be something in here.”

“It’s really not your day is it?”

I looked up to see that the man in the hoody had slid into the seat opposite me.

“It’s alright mate, I’ve got it,” he said to the inspector, handing him some money.

“No, no, it’s ok,” I said still rummaging in my bag.

“Don’t worry yourself,” he said, “I had one of those days just last week. I lost my phone, my keys and my dog all in one day.”

“Thank you,” I said quietly.

The inspector handed me a ticket and walked off shaking his head.

“My keys,” I gasped, “They’re not in my bag. I must’ve left them on the side when I went back to change.”

I slid down in my seat and covered my face. Just then my phone rang. “Hello, Miss Parker? This is Daisy, Mrs Lane’s receptionist. I’m sorry we’ll have to reschedule your interview for another day. The offices on the 5th floor have flooded so they’re closing all of them below, including ours. Sorry it’s so late notice. Have a nice day.”

I put the phone back in my bag and sank lower into the chair. “She sounded happy,” said the hoody guy.

“My job interview’s been cancelled,” I said with my head in my hands. “I shouldn’t have even bothered getting up this morning.”

For the first time the man looked sympathetic. “Come on, it’s not that bad. At least you can calm yourself down and have a nice day in the city.”

I took another deep breath and tried to smile. “I suppose.”

We talked for the rest of the journey, just about life – the funny things, and the not so funny. And when the train stopped he smiled at me, told me to have a nice day and left.

A stranger’s kindness is one of the nicest unexpected things you can experience. I never did get his name.

I smiled, remembering that I’d hidden my emergency credit card in my purse. “Time to put this to good use – a cup of coffee and a big slice of cake for me.”

But how I was going to get back into my house later was another challenge I couldn’t be bothered to think about right away. “I guess I’ll have to ask one of the neighbour’s kids to climb in through the back window again,” I laughed to myself.

Any feedback is welcomed 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Writing Prompt – Stranger on a Train

  1. Can I just say this is a really nice story? However, I know you’re probably looking for constructive criticism (I always am), so I’m going to point out a few things that could make your story even better. Keep in mind, though, that these are very minor things and the story is great already.
    1. Avoid vague words. Try to spice up your story a bit with better word choice. I think you could have used a better description than “ripping noise,” and you could have been more descriptive than “Then her tiny little dog went mad.” Describing the dog was fine, but show us what he did instead of simply telling us he “went mad.” Does that make sense? Also, try using different verbs to replace “said.” I know you do, but try to space “said” out a bit. There’s several times when you use them three times in a row. Great job on the verbs when you’re not using “said,” though. I noticed some spots you did do a great job on word choice. For example, “I sank lower into the chair.” I like that.
    2. Watch your comma usage. I noticed you rarely used a comma when using an introductory clause, and there are other places you put commas where you don’t need them. This is a great resource: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp

    I think that’s pretty much it. Great job overall. I like your writing style. Are you planning on writing a novel?

    • Thank you so much. This constructive criticism is just what I needed. I’ll definitely have to look through my writing and see if I do the same things. I have noticed I use said too much.

      Yes I am planning to write a novel. But at the moment I’m just working on my writing with short stories and using writing prompts to find my style and genre.

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