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August 18
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It was one of those balmy, summer days where everything was still and beautiful, as if painted – and one would dare not breathe lest the perfection was spoiled.  The only place that moved was beyond the windows of the train where Henry sat; it flickered by like an old film, yet the sepia tones were replaced with a vivid blur of colour. A pity Henry could not appreciate the scenery as he had nodded off.
    At the end of the line the train stopped and Henry woke up. He could see clouds of steam billowing from the front engine. He looked at his watch – five hours had passed and yet the journey should have taken less than an hour. Steam trains were slower, he supposed and was amazed that this one was still running. Still retro was everywhere now.
    He stepped from the carriage and was instantly wrapped in the stillness that had persisted since sunrise. Tall weeds grew at the side of the line and on the platform itself, rising from cracks, as if to alleviate a grey, unkempt feel of neglect and maybe soften the starkness. There were no fripperies, no posters, no chocolate machines, just a bench stained with weather. And, of course, the exit, gaping almost rudely without a door, and covered in graffiti of some kind.
    From the station Henry walked, unsure of where he was heading.  He blamed his memory loss on the deep sleep that the motion of the train had induced and yet he didn’t feel unduly perturbed by this. Ahead the road was long, devoid of traffic and flanked by lines of trees. He walked and walked and dust rose from his footsteps and was swept away by a small breeze.
    And then he came to a cottage: it was set back from the road and entailed yet another small walk along a crazy-paved path to the front door.  A woman stood there, waiting.  
    ‘Hello,’ she said smiling, ‘You didn’t confirm your booking.  I thought you might not come.’
    ‘Oh yes,’ said Henry, remembering some vague details: the cottage he had booked to get away from it all.  He suddenly realised he had been carrying a suitcase, which he then put down in the hallway.  
    ‘I’m Clare, I’ll show you round.’ She took him first to the the back of the cottage where the bedroom was. It overlooked a train track, the one he had travelled on. It looked very old.
    ‘The steam trains go through quite often,’ smiled Clare. ‘ I know it all looks ancient, but it was only built very recently for enthusiasts such as yourself.’
    ‘Love them,’ said Henry. He was going to enjoy his stay.  ‘How long did I book for?’ But Clare had gone.
    He wandered briefly in the garden outside the cottage, then it started to rain – just a light shower but Henry decided to return inside to the back bedroom, where he settled himself comfortably to watch the trains and listen to the light patter of raindrops. But the shower turned into a heavy deluge and pounded against the windows, obscuring his previous unspoilt view.  Suddenly his heart felt heavy and the colours outside dimmed, yet there was a sudden clarity of thought.
    The train that had brought him here, was not one that he had physically boarded! He had jumped under it! Financial pressures; bankruptcy; divorce!  He loved trains: it had seemed the ideal exit.
    And then the rain stopped, the sun shone and a rainbow appeared, just as another steam train came through...
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:iconmidnightdaybreak:
MidnightDaybreak Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014  New member Hobbyist Writer
Well now, quite the ending there o..o
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:iconshelleypalmer:
shelleypalmer Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks. I'm glad the ending had impact. Of the three stories I've just written with twists at the end this was my own favourite. Thanks for the fave too!
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:iconwheresajacket:
WheresAJacket Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
such good words.
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:iconshelleypalmer:
shelleypalmer Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
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:iconseamlessmaiden:
SeamlessMaiden Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  New member Student Writer
I love this! You describe the scene so well, and I could clearly picture everything that was happening. Not to mention the twist at the end was great, and you give the reader a vibe that something is off without giving away exactly what it was. If I may ask out of curiosity, why didn't you use double quotation marks when they were speaking? For me personally, the single quotes seemed to interrupt the flow of the piece.

But what a lovely piece! I really enjoyed reading it <3
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:iconshelleypalmer:
shelleypalmer Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. All the books I read seem to use single quote marks, so I have got used to this. I have self published some books and have used single. Years ago most books I read used double but then this practice appeared to have ceased. Checking out the books in my bookcase I cannot find any with double quote marks.  Interesting though that you should mention it, as for some reason, in the last children's book I wrote I decided to go against the grain and use double - it was a bit of a nostalgic thing as I remembered the double quote marks in children's books way back, and I do rather like them. Anyway I'm glad you enjoyed the read.
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:iconseamlessmaiden:
SeamlessMaiden Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  New member Student Writer
You're welcome! And that's very interesting because my
bookshelf would be the exact opposite by having only double, lol.
I just found it interesting and had to ask!

But the piece was amazing, and yes, I really did enjoy the read! <3
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:iconshelleypalmer:
shelleypalmer Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, so glad you liked this - I wrote it this morning and neglected some housework!
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:iconsupach:
Supach Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh this is an amazing  story , so sad,  not at all what I expected at the end, the tears welled up in my eyes.:tears: Well written :clap:
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