This is a story I wrote when I was twenty three. So funny to look back at it now, to think I thought I knew what a hot flush was……
Doris Sharpe pushed her way on to the train through the early morning commuters.
“Excuse me, please” she muttered as she wrenched her arm free from a bulky handbag, belonging to an equally bulky female passenger. They surveyed each other cautiously and apologies followed. Her eyes darted over the carriage, eagerly in hope of a vacant seat. There was no chance – especially being a Monday morning. The door closed, forcing everyone into position and the journey continued.
Doris contemplated whether to read her newspaper but decided against it, avoiding another battle of arms.
The start of another week of work depressed her. It had taken all her will-power that morning to force herself from the bed and not to telephone in sick. Realising now, that would have been fatal as Mr Parker her boss for over fifteen years was due to retire on Friday, his replacement was visiting that day.
“It’s going to be an informal introduction.” Vera, head of personnel had said, “he’s only thirty you know. I thought quite young for the position of M.D.”
She continued in her gossipy manner, then scurrying away undoubtedly looking for more snippets of scandal to impart. Typical Doris thought, for a member of personnel, particularly the head. Dwelling on the forthcoming meeting with her new boss, she wondered what it would be like. It was bound to be an effort, as everything was lately, she thought.
Secretly Doris wished one day to go into the office and find on her neat desk a small brown envelope with ‘Redundancy’ splattered over it.
“Then what would you do?” her conscience asked. True, if she wasn’t at work caring for a man and earning, she would have to spend full time on her husband Bob. That option would surely drive her mad.
That wasn’t fair. Doris thought guiltily of Bob; he was a good man, and over the years they had shared a relationship that if judged on the scales of life today would be above the average. However, monotony had slipped in, casting aside any spice she had once known. Robert their son, had left home recently, proving the strain of just the two of them more evident. She thought idly of the previous weekend and concluded that the most excitement she had experienced was to plant a fresh batch of begonias. Not forgetting the rather weak obscene phone call on Saturday morning. Life had become so predictable!
The train had come to a halt in the tunnel. Passengers groaned simultaneously, followed by a check for lateness.
Doris resumed her thoughts of Bob and her unfulfilled marriage. What a wonderful uplift, if Bob dashed in this evening, interrupting preparations of the normal Monday curry (leftovers from the Sunday lunch) armed with a bouquet of fresh flowers. Resembling an overweight knight in shining armour with his bald patch glinting, whispering sweet endearments and making mad passionate love to her right there and then in the kitchen.
“To hell with the curry, we’re going out this evening” he would say. “But that’s not Bob” intervened conscience, erasing away her dream of Bob and any exotic adventures.
The doors flew open allowing more commuters to cram their way into the already overfilled carriage. Doris suppressed a yawn and silently counted the stops for her departure. Gazing around the empty faces she tried to guess who had what occupation. One of her favourite past times whilst travelling. A young man caught her gaze and immediately smiled over the heads of other passengers, his fair hair touching his broad shoulders. Doris wondered dreamily how big his biceps were. He had the appearance of a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger crossed with George Michael. The smile was so pleasant, she found herself grinning hideously. Realising her action, she turned away quickly almost clashing heads with a fellow passenger. The heat rose from the base of her throat making a quick getaway full blast from her cheeks. She groaned and prayed it wasn’t a hot flush.
Oh, dear how could I get embarrassed she asked herself. “Because you fancy him. Go on make a play for it. Your whining how boring life is” her conscience replied. A vision of crumpled sheets in a seedy hotel room came before her.
This is stupid, he’s half my age, she thought. She was relieved the hot flush had now passed.
The train thankfully pulled into her stop. Regaining her composure, she slyly glanced towards him. The pearly white smile still beamed in her direction. He was now signalling for her to get off. Her stomach churned with anticipation, she followed him on to the platform.
Facing him she stood as seductively as possible thinking it wasn’t too late to ring in sick. She would deal with Vera tomorrow.
“Excuse me, but I have to ask you” he yelled above the croaking tannoy.
“Please do! Please do!” Doris answered silently.
“You are Roberts Mum, aren’t you?”
The crumpled sheets in a seedy hotel faded away.