Brought to you by the letter ‘D’
Today’s entry to the A to Z Challenge is an entry piece I will be submitting to a travel writing competition. I would appreciate any feedback from you guys and gals (good and bad) since I am too shy to show it to my friends/family!
I was fifteen years of age at the time and had just finished a day of work experience. The school set up the programme as a way to introduce pupils to the ‘real world’. For me, cleaning without pay in some dingy hotel was enough to never want to work again. However, another day was over; it was time to catch the 15.42 home.
The train was packed, and before I knew it I was being hustled into an aisle seat. I looked into the weary eyes of the traveller sat beside me. I assumed she was self-assured by the way she made no attempt to accommodate me. Instead I attempted to curl around her belongings and thought of how I longed to breathe air that wasn’t infused with lavender.
To look at the woman you would assume she was of stout stature. A bonnet of tight curls drawn in neatly around her crown revealed an eerie white scalp spotted with tiny brown imperfections. Her fleshy lips, bathing in a soup of grease, immediately bounded from one another to form accusing words saturated in a thick Northern accent. They asked where I had been, where I was going and where I lived.
I replied like a well-mannered girl should, all the while looking beyond her hooknose and at spring’s offerings. Daffodils swelled in the sun’s temperate heat; their presence no doubt encouraging other flowers to emerge. Fresh buds poking their noses from dew-embraced soil guarded a path of ducks wobbling towards a nearby river.
The water radiated a compelling light that soon became sickly, sending me into a hurtling head rush and forcing my eyes to fall on a dimly lit corner. A strip of light burned against the dusk emphasising butterflies unwittingly condemned to the joys of spring; they danced with such euphoric vacancy. And as the train gathered momentum, much like the fleeting seasons, I blinked and the creatures were gone.
Back on the train the woman had somehow managed to discover my mother had died. However, the cause of death was tricky for her to guess. I could see perplexity welling up in her eyes; it looked as though great confused tears might tumble. She was hungry for gossip, and probably fearful I was going to depart at the next platform. Her eyes darted around something mad with every new piece of information.
“Cancer is a terrible, painful way to go.” She said, with emphasis on the ‘painful’. She told me facts about cancer; facts I didn’t need to know. I continued to search beyond her hooknose for the dancing butterflies. I found them chasing flecks of dust only visible in a light of the sun’s creation.
It was only then I learnt how to turn ugliness into beauty.