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Under Your Thumb

As the last customer left, Raymond sighed. Another day had come and gone with too little profits to pay even the electricity, never mind the rent on the shop.

Raymond counted the days pitiful takings and began to lock up. The silence of the shop had never really bothered him; Raymond felt much easier on his own than with a crowd, but not when the silence meant that there was no-one paying to keep him in business.

Sullenly, he turned out the main light & turned on the window display. Hundreds of little diamonds sparkled as the bright lights played through them.

The shop door creaked as it shut. Raymond locked it and walked out into the rain. Raymond drew his coat around him as the wind and rain hit him.

The street was quiet, as could be expected at eight o'clock. He turned out of the Hareford Street and on to Lincoln Road, where the busy traffic splashed water on to the pavement beside him.

There he stood for a second trying to remember if the cupboard had anything worth eating in it, or if he would have to visit the supermarket on the corner. A quick look in his wallet confirmed his suspicion that the bank would only stretch to food if he did not want to go home by train.

Even more sullenly than before, Raymond walked on towards the train station. The rain and continual splashing of car on the road were not doing anything to lighten his mood.

He passed a book shop on the way and decided to have a look inside because, although the wallet might not stretch to the latest Jeffery Archer, Raymond hoped that the rain might have lessened by the time he returned to the road.

After a few minutes of pretending to look for something whilst knowing that the shopkeeper was staring intently at him, Raymond decided to try his chances outside again, and left the shop.

There he found the rain to have redoubled its efforts and was rapidly forming puddles on the pavement. Quickly, Raymond walked the last hundred yards to the train station and its shelter.

Inside the station was dull. Not only dull, but draughty with it. The air caught him and he clutched his coat tighter to him. He walked, slowly, over to the ticket office in the wall and bought a ticket.

George handed him his ticket after taking Raymond's money and sat silently behind the desk. George and Raymond only new each other because during the late nights when the trains were late, they would often chat and swap a joke or two.

Tonight, however, George seemed more withdrawn and did not seem as responsive as he normally did. Raymond put this down to the fact that George had recently been declared redundant, as had the entire station. George ad spent most of the previous night telling Raymond about te letter he had received, and his views on British Rail. Oddly enough, his opinion of British Rail was still considerably higher that of the rest of the country.

Sensing that George wished to be left alone, Raymond walked through the stone archway, on to the platform to wait for his train.

The train was late, but as Raymond saw it, that was par for the course. Raymond sat down on a wooden bench to wait for the train.

Beside im lay a discarded newspaper which was sprawled appealingly across the remainder of the bench. Glancing around and seeing no-one else on the platform, Raymond gathered up the paper into it's more usual order, and looked down at the front page. He had barely begun when the train arrived.

Taking the paper with him, Raymond boarded the train and sat in the end carriage.

Opposite Raymond sat a unshaven man in a dishevelled coat, clutching a small bottle and staring out of the window. But, apart from the him, the carriage looked exactly like any other, except that the graffiti was different.

The man showed no reaction to Raymond's presence in the carriage, but took a drink from the bottle and continued to stare out of the train window.

Raymond sat silently for a moment or two, then turned to pick up the paper which he had placed beside him. As he did so though, he caught a glimpse of a girl rushing into the station.

It was only a glimpse, but it was enough to make him stop and watch her. As Raymond starred through the window, the girl rushed on to the train. She was just in time because as she did, the train began to move. Behind the girl, Raymond saw a man was running after her, but he quickly disappeared as the train pulled out of the station.

Raymond was about to return to reading the newspaper, when the door to the carriage opened and the same girl walked in.

She walked silently over to the far side of the carriage and sat on a seat facing him. As she sat there, Raymond had a good chance to look carefully at her.

She was medium height, had blamed hair and seemed to be in her mid 20's. She seemed quiet agitated and kept folding and unfolding a piece of paper in her hands, whilst at the same time staring out of the window and mumbling something indiscernible to herself.

She had been crying, Raymond noticed. Such pretty blue eyes were not meant to cry, thought Raymond.

Transfixed, Raymond continued to watch her for some time, until a flash of lightning illuminated the carriage and broke his trance.

Raymond turned round to look through the window behind him, conscious of how obviously he had been staring at her.

Raymond sat and gazed out of the window for a couple of minutes as village after village raced by.

A movement made Raymond's gaze return to the carriage. The girl had left and was quickly walking up the carriage.

Raymond noticed that she had left behind the piece of paper which she had been clutching so tightly. He picked up the note, and ran up the carriage to give it her, at least that would give him a chance to talk to her.

She had already reached the front carriage, and Raymond began to wish that he had taken more exercise recently. Seeing that the girl had stopped, Raymond slowed his pace to a fast walk and began to think about what he would say to this girl who had so hypnotized him without a single word.

When he reached the last carriage a cold blast of air hit him and made him look around for its source.

He was just in time to see the girl throw herself through an open door, and a moment later saw her body bowl down the embankment.

Feeling shocked at the girls impetuous action, Raymond shut the open door and returned down the train to his seat.

Raymond's other companion - the man in the dishevelled coat - had gone, but Raymond did not really notice. His eyes drifted aimlessly about the carriage whilst he wondered why such a lovely girl should want to kill herself.

His gaze finally alighted on the newspaper which had fallen to the floor with Raymond's hasty departure, and now lay open on an inside page.

Staring back at him from the page was a picture of the girl he had just seen throw herself from the train.

"Girl throws herself from speeding train" the headline read. "'Don't wanna be under your thumb', this was the last message from Louisa Martin, 26, who yesterday morning jumped from the 4:50 train ...."

Stunned, Raymond stopped reading and opened the folded scrap paper which Louisa had left behind.

Those same seven words confronted him and, as Raymond finished reading, the sheet dissolved quietly away into nothing.

Raymond returned to the newspaper, and began to shake violently as he realised what he had just seen.

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This page is maintained by Justin Fletcher (gerph@gerph.org).
Last modified on 19 January, 2013.
This site is copyright . The accuracy of anything on this site is entirely limited by his belief system and memory at the time of publication - neither of which should be relied on. The opinions are entirely his, except where he's changed his mind. Quotations are copyright their respective authors and whereever possible attributions have been included.