Friday, 23 November 2012

The Train Set - Free Today and Tomorrow

Just a quick post to let you Kindle readers know that my short story collection "The Train Set" is available on Amazon for free today and tomorrow (Nov 23rd and 24th). I would love it if you downloaded and had a read of one or two stories within it, (or all of them if you like). Then tell your friends!

You can get it here.

Here's a snippet from one of the stories... "At Steepdean Halt"

I was twelve that year when we had our last family picnic at Steepdean. The field where we had come for years was just as beautiful as ever, and in the heat of June 1976 it possessed a summery beauty that seemed to contrast so plainly against the tragedy that happened here; a tragedy that protracted an idyllic day in the countryside into a sad and mournful autumn.

My younger brother, Samuel, aged eight, hands sticky with dried orangeade, beat me in a running race to the edge of the field where the trees began. He may have been four years younger than me but he was just as tall and his legs were powerful. He’d probably had more sugar than me too. Besides, I was a girl and in my brother's eyes, girls could never be faster than boys.

Though we were both out of breath when we got to the edge of the field we wasted no time in seeking shade from the high sun, which pierced the perfect blue sky but could not penetrate the canopy of leaves.

Samuel was already standing astride on the lowest branch of one of the bigger trees when I caught up, and while I bent over out of breath with the heels of my hands supported on my knees, he was eagerly climbing to the next set of branches.

 ‘Be careful,’ I shouted knowing full well that my pleas would not be heeded. In fact, he was already on the next branch up and could probably see the village from his vantage point if he looked to the south across the cut.

The railway below had been almost invisible to me, and when the sound of a diesel train started to rise in the distance to the east it became obvious just how close to the track we were. Through the trees below us the sun pinched the four rails. The ever louder churning of the oncoming train filled the day and soon the smell of the locomotive was upon us, as was the train itself. A flat fronted, yellow-faced, blue Class 60 with 8 passenger carriages plunged noisily past us. No sooner had it appeared did it disappear to the west, dropping us back into a silence punctuated by nothing but the sound of the church bell in the village tolling two o'clock.

Samuel and I had been silent and unmoving while the train had passed, but this minor interlude, or the apparent danger it presented, did not stop my brother from boldly climbing to a higher part of the tree.

'You should come down from there,' I called, but the grin he returned to me displayed that a common stubbornness had possessed him, the kind of bloody-mindedness that usually ended up with grazed hands and knees, salty tears and ice-cream. As he advanced further along a branch that seemed incapable of holding even his small frame, I thought these actions would end in tears. I had no idea that the tears would belong to my mother, my father and me.

The moment it all started was when Samuel stopped suddenly, looking down and out in front of him as though he was eyeing a place to land from a jump that was both dangerous and stupid.

'Don't jump! It's too far and the ground is sloped!'

He ignored me, but said nothing and for a moment I switched my thoughts to the notion that he might have been planning a leap to the branch of another tree.

Eventually he called down to me, 'Claire. There's a girl on the railway line.'

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