Jennifer and Daniel are on a train. Jennifer’s purse isn’t. Lilly is her in her flat. Daniel isn’t. To find out more, visit the Summary page here. To read on, read on…
The smaller of the two gold hands on Lilly’s watch was now straying towards the four, beginning to obscure the end letters of the manufacturer’s very exclusive, very expensive Swiss name. Lilly placed the empty martini glass on the kitchen counter for her underpaid Latvian maid to clean and tidy away, and picked up her phone. Being kept waiting, being kept uninformed as to why she was being kept waiting, was not only rude, not only disrespectful, it was boring. She had places she needed to be. Well, that wasn’t strictly true, her day was empty, but she was not prepared to sit indoors waiting for projects like Daniel to arrive, or at least to call her.
She selected Daniel’s name. ‘Time is money,’ she tapped into her phone, ‘Every minute you keep me waiting is another week I own you.’
The door clicked quietly closed as she left the penthouse. With a perfectly-manicured finger, she called the lift.
“You can be honest with me,” Daniel said, sliding to the aisle seat opposite Jennifer, “did you really buy a ticket or was that great acting?” He was almost certain he knew the answer, but he needed to keep up the Strangers on a Train pretence. “I really did buy a ticket,” Jennifer said as she re-packed her bag, “I really did lose my purse, and I really will now have to spend hours on the phone sorting out new cards and a new driving licence.”
“Not what you had in mind for your day in London, right?”
“No,” Jennifer confirmed with a wry smile, “but I didn’t really have anything planned anyway.”
“Oh?” Daniel asked. She was a talker, all she needed was a few prompts and before they were at Basingstoke she would have told him her life story. Which he already knew, but the more he asked, the less she asked.
“I’m going to surprise my Dad later when he finishes work, but the rest of the day is… open.” As is the rest of my life, she thought. The last of the possessions she had brought away with her were back in the bag now, and she slid the zips closed, lifted the bag to the window seat. She took the aisle seat, and closed her eyes, breathed deeply. She had lost her purse, true, but there was nothing that couldn’t be renewed. The cards and driving licence would be replaced by the issuers, the cash by her father, and as for the membership to her local gym and the discount card for the nail bar opposite work – well, she wouldn’t be needing either of those again anyway. And thanks to the kind stranger, she wasn’t going to be thrown off the train either. No need to stress now, no need to worry.
She opened her eyes, turned to Daniel. When she had been frantically searching, she had only seen a vague, person-shaped blur, but now that worry had subsided, she saw him for the first time. A better-than-average-looking man, she decided, the shirt he wore open-necked was expensively-tailored, his smartly-styled dark hair hadn’t been cut at a local barbers.
“He lives in London then?” Daniel asked, “your Dad?”
“Most of the time,” Jennifer said, “He goes away quite a bit for work.”
“What does he do?”
“To be honest I’m not completely sure. Some sort of import/export, he spends a lot of time on the phone tying up deals in different languages.”
“And what do you do?”
Jennifer raised an eyebrow, shrugged. “As of today, nothing. I walked out on my job yesterday.”
“I had to get away. From work, from the town, from the people I was mixing with, from…” she paused, self-censoring. “From everything.” She inspected her nails, sighed.
“But don’t worry,” she said quickly, “I can pay you back. I’ll get the money from my Dad tonight and I can get it to you.”
“There’s no rush.”
“Oh but there is, I don’t like owing anybody.”
“It’s only three hundred quid.”
“I know but I don’t like to feel obliged, to know that someone else has a part of your life, however small, you know?”
Daniel’s phone chirped in his pocket, and he took it out. A text from Lilly. He opened and read it. Time is money. An ironic smile crossed his face. Did he know how it felt to owe, to be obliged? He never felt any other way.
“So shall we meet up later tonight so I can pay?” Jennifer asked, “I’ll be in the West End, do you know the White Lion in Covent Garden?”
“Great, what’s your number?” Jennifer took her phone from her bag and typed the digits as Daniel told her. Her finger paused over the screen. “I don’t even know your name,” she grinned.
“Alex,” Daniel said without a pause. Jennifer entered his name, reciting each letter as she tapped them.
“Okay Alex, I’ll text you later.”
Joanne and I have been writing a Fiction Rally these last couple of months. It’s a bit like the fiction relay we were involved in last year but this time it’s just the two of us. To help us remember who is who and what is what, and to act as a “Previously” for any new readers that may stumble across the story, here is a Summary of what has happened so far.
Further chapters will be linked back from here too, so hopefully this little post will serve as THE Go To page for all things Fiction Relay. OK, so here is the story so far. Oh, and spoiler alert. Obviously.
CHAPTER ONE – TRG
Jennifer boards a mid-afternoon train to London – something she should have done long ago – carrying a bag. Text messages on her phone no longer make her angry, just convinced she is right. She falls asleep as the train enters a tunnel.
CHAPTER TWO – JOANNE
Jennifer has been having bad dreams which end with her cradling somebody dying, but never knows who or why.
Daniel has been watching Jennifer for weeks. He has a task he has to fulfill to be clear of his gambling debts – to drop an envelope into her bag. She has changed her routine and now she is alone and asleep he has the chance. This would earn him his freedom.
CHAPTER THREE – TRG
Daniel is disturbed by the door opening and Simon the conductor enters. Jennifer cannot find her purse and becomes desperate, emptying her bag. Daniel knows her, and knows she must be genuine, but realises if she can’t find it then she will be off the train and his chance will pass. He pays for her ticket and fine.
CHAPTER FOUR – JOANNE
Lilly is waiting in her penthouse for Daniel (her ex-lover whose debts she has paid, and who she keeps hold of to use as she requires) to arrive and tell her the drop is done.
She is also waiting for Jennifer, her weak, pathetic half-sister she has met only once but now has plans for after finding letters in their father’s desk.
CHAPTER FIVE – TRG
Lilly is bored of waiting for Daniel, texts him before walking out of her penthouse.
Daniel receives the text as he is talking to a now-more-relaxed Jennifer who is explaining she has left her job and headed for London. She will meet with her Dad who will give her the money to repay Daniel if they meet tonight. Daniel gives her his number and tells her his name is Alex.
Jennifer – Beginning a new life on a train
Daniel – Has an envelope to deliver
Simon – Train conductor
Lilly – Half-sister to Jennifer, almost-ex-lover of Daniel
Over a decade ago, before anyone knew there would be such a thing as tweeting (or even social media at all) this tune came out. The production is by Timbaland, who at the time was also working with Missy Elliott on stuff like Get Ya Freak On, with beats that still sound like the future today.
This is another one of those where you need proper speakers to appreciate the bass line, but even on a laptop or a phone you can appreciate just how damn sexy this tune is, especially Missy’s verse (“I was looking so good I couldn’t reject myself”).
Awesome beats, sexy singer, naughty lyrics… Oh My indeed! Whadda
The man on the weights next to me was lifting enormous dumbells, and counting his reps in a strained voice. But I soon noticed his counting didn’t coincide with each arc of his arm. He reached sixty, then dropped the weights to the floor and sat on the bench. The counting continued until he reached one hundred, at which point he stopped and smiled to himself in the mirror.
“I have to ask,” I said, “what are you counting?”
“It’s Friday,” he said enigmatically, “I’m counting my words.”
Finally, I understood. He had been sent this prompt pic by Rochelle:
I received it too. And these are my 100 words:
Sir, can you spare a moment to tell the viewers about your… unique farm?
I think it was a logical step from the biofuel we’ve been producing for the last ten years. We began experimenting in the lab, creating crops with different strengths and properties, always looking to expand the fuel’s uses and efficiencies.
One night my partner introduced some metallic elements into the recipe, wondering if that would improve the fuel’s harmonising with the machines, and that’s how we bred a plant that grew bolts. From there it’s a logical progression to our finest achievement yet… the Vehicle Plant.
Scene One, Interior DAY, just after lunch.
A bald, overweight man (TRG) is making drinks for his colleagues. A very cute and petite younger woman (GAW) enters. She has sparkling blue eyes and brunette hair with red lowlights. The colleague greet each other and fall into conversation.
GAW: I was thinking of having a half day tomorrow, [colleague] is off this week and she wants me to go for a liquid lunch.
TRG: Are you not going then?
GAW: No, I don’t want to waste an afternoon’s leave. Especially as I’m off next week.
TRG: (disappointed) Oh, really? Are you off all week?
GAW: Yep. I’m back the following Monday.
TRG: And my last day is the Wednesday, then I go away.
GAW: So we haven’t got many days left together then.
TRG: (sad face) No.
he thinks, inspired by the earlier comment about lunch
TRG: We should go out for lunch and drinks that Wednesday.
GAW: Yeah, okay. You mean have a half day?
TRG: No, haha, I just mean lunch (thinks: why did I say no?)
GAW: Okay, let’s do lunch!
TRG: Can’t wait (huge smile)
So, everyone, I am going to lunch with GAW the day before I go to London the day before I go to Reykjavik. We have spent the occasional lunch break together sitting outside in the sun, or eating lunch in the staff room. We have been at the same work meal, eating at the same group table. But despite the fact she is my best friend at work, we have never gone to the pub for lunch, just her and me. But in two weeks time, we will. Before you go buying a hat, it’s not a “date” and there will be no romantic interlude, however much I would like there to be.
I’m regretting saying no to the half day part, I still don’t know if that was a suggestion or a clarification that I wasn’t suggesting it. I will bring up the subject nearer the time and see what she says. An afternoon getting drunk with her would be tremendous fun, and who knows, I might even drunkenly confess my lust. Good idea? Bad idea? Who knows. At the very least I will get a farewell hug and kiss, however chaste.
Updates to follow. But as it is so close to my holiday, you might have to settle for a quick tweet and wait till I get back for the full story.
I had completely forgotten about this one until I was in casino at the weekend for a friend’s birthday and this came on. We were in a private room, playing for cash amongst our group and yes, since you ask, although it was only the third time I’ve played poker I took them to the fucking cleaners. But I’ve strayed a little off-topic…
This is one for Paula – a classic example of what defines the word “choon”. It’s a stomping 4×4 dance belter, heavy on the kick drum. There’s a fierce bassline, an addictive melody looped over the top, genuine hands-in-the-air breakdowns and of course when it drops back in…. BOOM!! Get your glowsticks out. This also featured on a Citroen car ad a few years back, which is where most people know it from (note to self – maybe a season of Choons From Ads?) but whether it makes you want to but a french car or not, it’s a helluva
Years ago, if you wanted to go on holiday you went to a travel agent, read a brouchure and gave them some money. Maybe you would buy a guide book and/or a phrase book, but otherwise you went home and waited till the departure date. But in the internet age, I have filled the eight months since deciding to go to Reykjavik in various ways, all of which demonstrate how the web now completely dominates our lives.
I booked the flights on easyjet’s website
I researched hostels online
And then booked over the internet
I bought a couple of guide books from Amazon
And I find the recommended places in Google Maps
So I now know where they all are and what they look like
I’ve booked my tour of the Golden Circle online
I’ve booked a walking tour of Reykjavik
And a visitor discount card for museums and buses
And pre-paid for an Icelandic sim card for my phone
I track the exchange rate of the Icelandic kronur
And transfer money into my savings account using a banking app
I am working through a language tuition course on Icelandic Online
And use the google translate website when I’m stuck
I’ve downloaded the google translate app for my phone
Including the offline Icelandic package
I like to check the daily weather outlook in Iceland
I follow various Icelandic twitter accounts
Who I message and tweet
And I like to use Facebook to check in to places I will visit
While away, I will use google maps to navigate the streets
And WordPress, twitter, facebook, email, whatsapp and kik to keep in touch with those at home
I’ve set up a flickr account to upload my pics to afterwards
Which I will take using a camera bought from Amazon
And, of course, I bore my blog followers by talking about Iceland
The only thing the internet can’t do is actually take me there, I still need to travel to the airport and then be flown there. But I’m sure in a hundred years or we will be able to send ourselves on holiday by touching a screen and teleporting.