Friday, 13 January 2017

Very Superstitious

Archie crossed his fingers and hoped for the best. Friday the 13th wasn't the best day for an expedition like this but the date had not been of his choosing. He put his hat on and buttoned his coat. No point in putting it off any longer.
A black cat scurried from under the hedge and darted across the path. Archie jumped, dislodging his hat in the process.
'Just my luck,' Archie thought. 'As if I need anymore bad luck.'
He picked his hat up and hurried towards the station. A light rain began to fall and Archie cursed himself for having forgotten his umbrella. Thankfully there was time to pop into town and purchase a replacement.
Archie opened the shop door and entered. The smell of polish and tobacco made him feel uneasy. Trips to the shop for school uniform with his overbearing mother sprang to mind and he winced. Thankfully none of the same shop assistants worked here now so his embarrassments were hidden from everyone but himself. A young woman approached and Archie asked to see their selection of umbrellas. He blushed under her gaze and fought hard to suppress the stutter that surfaced when he spoke to attractive women. She pulled three umbrellas from beneath the counter and unbuttoned the fastening. Archie felt his heart quicken. Everything happened in slow motion and he was powerless to stop her. She shook the umbrella and reached inside. He watched a she opened it and twirled it before him. He turned and fled from the shop, bumping into a passing chimney sweep in his haste to escape.
The town clock chimed three and Archie picked up the pace. He had to make that train or he would miss his appointment. As he rounded the corner he saw the train pull into the station. He rushed into the ticket office and was dismayed to see a party of school children queuing for tickets. Thirteen of them for heaven's sake! Archie fretted for a moment then decided on an uncharacteristic course of action. He ran past the ticket office, ignoring the cries of the ticket seller and jumped on the train without a ticket. He pulled the carriage door shut, slumped into the scratchy seat and sighed deeply.
'Archie Brown! You rebel, you,' he thought. He giggled thinking about what his mother would have said. The train moved off and he stretched his legs out, enjoying having the compartment to himself.
He reached into his pocket and stroked the rabbit's foot that he always carried. It calmed him down and he stared out of the window as the countryside raced by and the rain scudded down the glass. The rhythm of the train swaying and rocking lulled Archie into a deep sleep. He dreamed about his mother, scolding him for travelling without a ticket while a mischief of magpies danced in the garden. Archie counted in his dream and woke with a start when he counted seven magpies.
''Seven for a secret, never to be told! What does that mean?' Archie thought. He opened the door to the corridor and wandered down the train to calm himself. He spotted the ticket inspector at the far end of the corridor so Archie ducked into the nearest compartment and pulled the blind down.
Archie backed into the compartment and felt something solid behind his foot. He pushed against it and it pushed back. Slowly he turned round and saw the top of a ladies hat at eye level. Looking down he saw an elderly lady standing behind him with an expression that reminded him of his grandmother. He was instantly seven years old, sent home from school and about to be told what a disappointment he was. Archie mumbled something apologetic and shuffled towards the door. As he reached for the handle the elderly lady inhaled and screamed.
Archie heard the pounding of feet as the guard ran down the corridor towards him. He scanned the compartment for an escape route and panicked when he realised there was nothing for it, he had to jump from the moving train. He raised his hat and pushed as gently as he could past the elderly lady. He felt the rap of a handbag against his back as he opened the train door. Cold, wet air rushed in and Archie puffed out as he grasped the edges of the door frame. Saying a quick prayer he jumped.

Archie opened his eyes and winced. Pain shot through his body and he sucked air into his lungs to take the edge of the pain. His fingers brushed against something smooth and cool. There was a sharp antiseptic smell in the air and he could hear people bustling around. He turned his head slowly and caught sight of a young woman dressed in blue.
'Miss? Please Miss, can you help me?' Archie managed to squeak loud enough for her to hear. His throat was so sore and dry he had difficulty speaking.
'Where am I? I remember a train but then it's all a little hazy.'
She placed a cool hand on his forehead and gently held his wrist.
'Don't fret, Mr Brown, you're quite safe here. You took a tumble from the train. And would you believe your luck? You tumbled into cargo heading for a local hotel. Smashed all the mirror into a thousand pieces. Hope you're not superstitious, that's a good few years bad luck!'
Archie felt hot, then cold, saw stars and passed out. The nurse tucked him safely beneath the linen sheets and continued on her ward round.

No comments:

Post a Comment