Stuck on a train

Some writing for my writing course – characters who may appear stereotypes, but in fact are not stereotypical!..

“This is ridiculous! We’re not going to sit here any longer just waiting for nothing to happen! Come along, one of you will have to take my bags and the other will have to help me with my sticks!”
“Are you sure that’s a g-good idea, J-Judith? Wouldn’t we be safer…”
But Judith interrupted him and was gathering her things and stowing them in her handbag. He looked at me and I shrugged. I’d only known her for a couple of hours – only known him a couple of hours too, stuck on a stopped train in the middle of dark nowhere – but I realised with or without us, this elderly woman would get off the train.
“Yes, we no doubt would be a great deal safer but nothing is happening, so come along – I thought young people these days dared anything!”
Ole and I obediently stood, me slinging my duffle bag over my shoulder him helping Judith with her coat. She was rather bent and stiff from sitting so it wasn’t easy. She had looked like a dear little old lady when I’d sat down opposite her; less than five minutes into a conversation had changed that idea. Ole had slid in next to her because I had a man in a suit beside me; he’d got off at the last station we’d stopped at… which was several hours ago… I had no idea; I don’t wear a watch under the misapprehension that I instinctively know the time – maybe in daylight, but at night after an eon on a stopped train…
We’d drifted into conversation but somehow something clicked, as my mum would say, and we began to converse as if we’d been old friends long before we boarded the train. It seemed odd for Judith to tell us to call her by her first name, old people usually want to be formal.
Judith suggested we guess each other’s occupations… Do old ladies have occupations? Apart from knitting or reading Georgette Heyer?
I guessed Judith was a retired doctor, or maybe a magistrate (I didn’t say retired, I’d already worked out that she’d never retire) as for Ole, slight, shy, hesitant, friendly Ole, maybe he worked in a bank, or maybe… maybe an optician!
Ole suggested Judith was a famous writer (good guess! Wish I’d said that!) or a chartered accountant, and wondered if I was an art teacher (good grief, no way!) or a poet (no – but I like the idea!)
Judith looked at us shrewdly – was Ole a detective? Or an actor? And me… was I a writer, maybe a journalist? Or… she narrowed her eyes, which I noticed were deep blue, unfaded by age – or was I in the services? Army intelligence maybe? Well, I was very flattered, and a little shocked at her perception… she wasn’t a million miles off the mark!

© Lois Elsden 2019

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