Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Fear Of Flying – 3

Simon had never been a big fan of change.

He liked the safety of knowing what was happening when, consistency and a  timetabling of his life that bordered on obsessive. He wouldn’t feel terrible if change occurred, it’s just he tended to shy away from it, someone who’d never throw away a sock with holes because he knew exactly how the material felt underfoot – and besides it felt like such a waste when 95% of the sock was in full working order.

He knew what he liked as well. Spending his younger years with brief bouts of near wildness he’d mastered the essentials of taste and preference. He was a fan of log fires but not coal fires, pies without excessively thick pastry and any pudding involving the keywords sponge, syrup and custard. He disliked fried mushrooms, olives and cream cakes. He was a espresso not a latte man, a ciabiatta rather than baguette, and tables and chairs rather than sofas. There was something reassuring about the consistency the world dealt him, the people he recognised, the part of the station platform he usually stood on, the entire lack of change or incidence. For a long time the closest he came to breaking from his comfortable cycle was in his daydreams, most of which involved the girl from the platform and a vague warm feeling associated with the term ‘happily every after’.

While the suicide that had happened in front of him had come as a surprise, after all it’s not often a man steps in front of a train less than 3 seconds after talking to you, what had followed and indeed his current situation was, as far as Simon was concerned, stranger still.

The aftermath of the old man’s death had passed in, what seemed to Simon, a stark light, a mood nearly, it felt like he was stepping out of a haze. The screams and screeching of brakes had faded into the background. The driver of the train had stepped down to see the body lying in front of his cab. The old man had been hit at speed, but rather than his body rupturing, spilling out over the tracks, he had been lifted through the air, carried to a final resting place some twenty foot in front of the now stationary engine. It’s one thing to see a man killed by a train, it’s another to see a man killed and his body tossed through the air like a failed attempt at long jump.

People looked away, mentioned to other people to look away too before casting a glance at the deceased man with morbid curiosity. He was bloodied, he’d turned slightly as the train hit him smashing the back of his skull but leaving his face intact. He’d landed on his back, and there he lay, a wistful smile still on his face. If it weren’t for the pool of blood, vomiting passengers and ripped clothing you’d swear he’d died happy.

He’d been killed instantly of course, the station master had taken control, police had arrived and statements had been taken. It was while the statements were being taken that the police, and particularly a sprightly and efficient (if tactless) young officer had noticed how little such a moderate collection of people had managed to see of this tragic incident.

The driver anticipating the collision had closed his eyes, station master had covered his eyes with his hand containing salt temporarily blinding himself, the business men had been too absorbed by the business of the day, while the large woman with the dog had caught the incident in her peripherals only. Several others in the crowd had been lacking glasses, focus, or awareness leaving only two witnesses to the full extent of the tragedy, a young man, Simon, and an attractive woman.

Several hours of interviews had taken place, footage from CCTV examined, and backgrounds checked at the local police station, and some six hours later, story validated, noted and details taken, Simon had, entirely unexpectedly found himself sat next to the woman of his dreams outside an interview room.