Once again, even though the Creative Writing Group has now closed, I thought you might be interested in the following which was an exercise given to us by the leader, Janet Gibson, who gave us the line “It was a coincidence…..” which we then had to complete.
It was a coincidence but every time she caught the tram into Nottingham, there sitting across the aisle from her was the old man. Well, I say “old” – he must have been around twenty years older than her. She didn’t go into Nottingham that often but when she did it was always at different times of the day and on different days of the week. After she had seen him twice in three weeks (once on the 11.40 am tram and again on the 2.25 pm tram) she thought it was rather strange that he was always there, sitting across the aisle, hands on his knees, staring straight ahead. Occasionally he turned his head slowly to the left and looked at her for a few seconds then slowly turned his head back and looked ahead again. When it happened every time she caught the tram and at different times of the day, she began to feel rather uneasy so she started to sit in a different part of the tram on every occasion but after a few minutes the man moved through the tram until he was sitting once again on the seat across the aisle from her.
He was quite an unassuming man, dressed smartly but appropriately for a man of his age, with grey pressed trousers and a navy anorak type coat and wearing a flat tweed cap. But she became so unnerved by his presence that she stopped catching the tram and took the bus into Nottingham when it was necessary for her to go there and to her relief, she never saw him on the bus on those occasions.
Then, about five months after she first spotted him, she had to make an emergency trip into Nottingham to pick up a book she had ordered from Waterstones to take to her Reading Group the next day. It never crossed her mind that the man might be on the tram but there he was, once again sitting across the aisle from her. After three or four stops, she plucked up her courage and leaned across and asked him “Excuse me, but do I know you?”. “No, you don’t” he said “But I know you! I used to live in Old Lenton and I knew of you then”. Old Lenton was where she had been born and brought up by her mother, who had died about ten months previously. Her father had been killed at the end of World War II, just before she was born.
He turned to her again and said “Your mother thought I should make myself known to you and I have been waiting for the right opportunity. I just wanted to let you know she is happy and glad to be reunited with me after all this time”. And with that he suddenly faded away and was gone. She frantically looked around but no-one else seemed to have noticed. So, it hadn’t been a coincidence after all.