Photo Credit: Andrew Bulhak
As the train pulled into the station, the woman hugged the little boy sitting beside her in the carriage, then looked at the man opposite them. She stood up and went to the door. She waved goodbye. They watched her leave.
The train moved off again, and the boy shuffled to the edge of his seat, planting his feet on the floor. “That was a surprise, wasn’t it, Dad? Running into Amy like that?”
The man had closed his eyes. He opened them again. “Yes, it was.”
The boy cocked his head. “Was she sad?”
“Sad? I don’t know, son.”
“She seemed sad to me.”
The man loosened his tie. He had noticed something, too, in the woman’s demeanour.
“She smelled nice,” the boy said—more to himself than the man.
The man turned and stared out the window, at the backs of the houses rolling past.
“So,” the boy said, “will we see her again?”
“I don’t know, son. I don’t think so. She’s got another boyfriend now. A new life.”
The sky was clouding over. The man sat forward and buttoned the boy’s coat. He remembered how the woman’s eyes had brimmed only minutes ago, when he informed her that this was his sixth month of sobriety.
“She reminds me of Mum, Amy does,” the boy said. He sighed. “Mum smelled nice.”
“Yes, she did, didn’t she?”
The boy nodded. “Mum would have liked Amy.”
The man nodded back, and the boy stepped up close to him. He put his arms around the man’s neck and turned his head to one side, resting it on the man’s shoulder.
The man held the boy. They held each other. Soon they were out in open countryside. Wind rushed at the window as the train gathered speed.
Stories by Digby Beaumont appear in such journals as The Rose & Thorn, Pindeldyboz, 34th Parallel, Opium Magazine, Slow Trains, Monkeybicycle, The Linnet’s Wings and others, as well as in the anthologies Small Voices, Big Confessions, Late-Night River Lights and City Smells. He has worked as a nonfiction author for many years, with numerous publications. He lives in Brighton, England. Email: digbyb[at]btinternet.com