Overheard on the train
“So are things any better with Jack, or still the same?”
“Still the same. I’ve tried my hardest to find out what’s wrong, tried everything, but to be honest I’ve just given up.”
There was a resigned sigh and then silence.
Many authors have said in interviews that they get lots of inspiration from real life; listening to conversations on buses, trains and planes. Here was a good opportunity for me to do the same, to decide what was wrong with the man the two women were discussing and perhaps use it in a story.
Was he being unfaithful? Funny how that was the first thought I had.
Was he ill? Perhaps he only had months to live and couldn’t bring himself to upset his wife and family. Or was he facing redundancy and was worried how the family would manage without his wage.
I decided that he had a mistress. That would explain the change in his attitude to his wife, the reason why she had given up. He didn’t really want to be there with her but couldn’t bring himself to end their relationship. They would live in a semi-detached house, have a mortgage and three children; the youngest would not have been planned. They used to holiday abroad for two weeks, now they take one week and book a caravan near the sea in Devon and barely speak to each other.
He met the woman who became his mistress at work. She is tall and slim with a terrific personality, quite attractive with a great sense of humour. His wife was like that when they first married he says.
As the train entered a long tunnel, I had the opportunity to look at the reflection of the two women in my window. Although slightly distorted, I saw two women in early middle age; the one who had asked the question seemed the younger of the two and was now reading a copy of ‘Hello.’ The other woman, the “wife” was occasionally nibbling on a sandwich and staring into space.
I felt sorry for her. Perhaps she too longed for more, but wasn’t prepared to do anything about it. Just resigned herself to life the way it had turned out.
I decided that she looked like a Susan and her friend was Louise. I was busy creating lives for them and their families when the train pulled into Paddington.
I gathered my bag from the rack and followed the two women off the train.
“There they are” called Louise pulling Susan’s arm and hurrying her along
They walked towards two young women standing waiting by the coffee shop.
“Where’s your dad?” asked Susan sounding worried.
So Jack hadn’t bothered even bothered to come and meet her.
Suddenly there was a commotion and out of the crowd ran a very excitable West highland terrier pulling a laughing man along behind.
“Oh Jack” Susan cried, stooping down to grab the dog, who was trying his best to jump up to her, “you’re back to your old self. I was so worried we were going to lose you.”