Three Stories by Sarah Robin


The Steam Locomotive


A loud whistle and the unmistakeable ‘chugger chugger’ sound of the train signalled it was approaching the station long before I could see the puffs of smoke above the hundreds of adults towering above me on the platform. My mother held the back of my jumper as I strained myself to admire the magnificent machinery as it slowed to a halt a few feet away from where we were stood.

We were thrown forward as the crowd rushed into the wooden train carriages. I looked back at my mother for reassurance and she nodded me along, maintaining a grip of me by my jumper with one hand and hauling our suitcase behind her with the other.

The carriages filled up quickly. Mother heaved our suitcase into the basket above our heads and sat me on her knee by the window so others could sit down. I was the only child in our carriage and I was aware a lot of eyes were on me. There was a man sat near the door who sobbed silently, covering his face with a handkerchief.

“Don’t stare, Friedrich,” Mother whispered in my ear. “Where are we going?” I squeaked. “I’m not entirely sure,” she rested her chin on my shoulder and stroked my hair as she had always done.

The train roared and in my excitement of going on a new adventure, I placed both palms on the glass and stared open mouthed out the window at the fields of green and yellow moving before me at increasing speed. I swung my legs back and forth in delight, watching farmhouses and thousands of sheep pass me by.

Several hours had passed when I awoke from my mother’s lap at the sound of distressed voices. The train was slowing down, passing huge mounds of luggage as tall as buildings and hundreds of soldiers paced the grounds in their green uniforms.

It was a sunny day and I was glad to be getting out the carriage to get some fresh air and to stretch my legs; maybe there was a park nearby. There was a gentle breeze which made the red, black and white flags flap rhythmically.

The train finally stopped and the soldiers approached the train, shouting loudly, their guns swinging on their backs. Mother gripped my leg tightly as they reached our carriage. That was the last time I felt her touch.



The Pier


I sat on the pier with my legs dangling over the edge, seagulls squawking noisily above me. I had been waiting almost two hours but there was no sign of him. I replayed in my mind what my mother had said to me the previous night; “I don’t know why you bother; it will only end in tears again.” But I was stubborn lad and I refused to give up on my father, even if he had given up on me; so I rose when the sun was barely over the signature rolling hills of North Yorkshire, jumped on my bicycle and headed towards a small coastal town eight miles away from our little thatched cottage in the cabbage fields.

“Go away, I haven’t got any food!” I swung my arms at the seagulls, while my own stomach rumbled and ached with hunger and disappointment. I hadn’t expected to wait this long. The sea below me foamed as time went on and the waves grew taller, like blue and white arms reaching out to grab my little wellington boots. Grey clouds started to crowd the sky and a northerly cold breeze brushed my cheeks, turning them pink.

I fumbled with the paper envelope in my pocket until the corners began to disintegrate. My faith in his ship appearing through the mist that was settling in crumbled with it. I brought my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around myself, unsure whether to be patient and wait a little longer or to go home where there was a crackling fire and hot food waiting for me.

I chose to stay put, fiercely ignoring the growing doubts in my head. The wind picked up and along came the rain; what was a calm morning turned into a miserable autumn day. I stayed for another hour, by which point my wet hair stuck to my face and I shivered so much I had accidentally bitten my lip, dropping blood onto my chin.

I scrambled to my feet and let out an almighty scream of frustration and anger, an admission of defeat. Thunder raged in the black clouds above and rain streamed down my face with tears of sorrow and despair. I stomped my feet on the wooden panels of the pier before cowering down against them as a bolt of lightning hit my bicycle thirty feet in front of me with a loud crack and a flash of white light.

Eyes wide and panting, I looked down through the spaces between the wooden panels to see something orange tumbling in the chaotic waves below. I raced to the edge of the pier, clambered up on the barrier and peered over the edge to find a mass of broken wooden planks empty bright orange lifejackets littering the sea below.

Our Morning Routine


I faithfully rise out of bed at the sound of my alarm and pull out of the wardrobe my finest shirt and tie, plus the trousers I had freshly ironed the night before; only the very best for you, my love. Looking smart with my combed white hair, shined shoes and warm overcoat, I step out the door and start off my favourite part of the day – visiting you. It’s a cold, breezy autumn morning, the bitterness of the wind brushing my cheeks until they turn as red as a robin’s breast. I warm up a little as I pick up pace, getting closer to the entrance of Moses Gate Country Park, our favourite place to walk in all seasons.

In spring we’d see the dark sea of trees slowly coming back to life, flashes of colour starting to emerge amongst the mass entanglements of branches. We’d quietly admire the many nests of eggs dotted around the park, excited to soon see the babies with their mothers, all fluffy and bright-eyed.

Long summer days were filled with picnics with freshly baked pastries, newly picked fruit and your famous triple cheese and onion sandwiches. You looked so beautiful sat on the bench in your floral dresses watching children feed the ducks and the geese. Lily pads decorated the pond behind us so perfectly, it was like we’d stepped into a Monet painting.

Autumn gave our little world an orange and red glow in the reflection in the water, a crunch beneath our feet and homemade knitted hats and scarves for the colder days. Winter was my favourite just to see your excitement of spotting beautiful robins against the fairytale-like white, glistening backgrounds. You loved the quietness of the park and our footprints making the first marks in the snow before anybody else came along.

Memories such as these fill my mind with joy and happiness as I make my way through the park, a smile of delight warms my face and I no longer feel the cold. Reaching the hill, I take a deep breath and slowly edge my way up, hauling my essentials with me as I go. I stop momentarily to regain my strength, taking deep breaths and blowing my nose with my cotton handkerchief. I’m almost with you now.

At the top of the hill, I cross the empty road to the cemetery where I go to your spot and open up my camping chair and place my flask on the ground. I tell you any news I have and then continue to read to you your favourite book from where I left off the previous morning. We sit quietly while I take out my sandwiches from my overcoat pocket and have a cup of tea or two. Then I tell you how much I love you - although I know you already know. I gather up my things and blow a kiss as I head towards the park again to home, promising I’ll see you again tomorrow.


Sarah Robin is a new writer from Bolton, England, starting her writing journey during the Coronavirus pandemic. Robin has had several pieces of work published in anthologies and online literary magazines as well as being a winner for both short fiction and poetry contests. She is also a columnist for Floresta Magazine and prose reader for Sepia Journal. She tweets @SRobinWriter




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