Diversion - A Christmas Story Part One
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Cardiff Station was unusually quiet for the time of year. December 23rd. Elaine fiddled with the zipper on her bag. Why had she decided traveling back to Newcastle was a good idea she wondered. After the horrible year everyone had had, maybe staying at the University and waiting it out a few months longer to see her mum would have been a better plan and, some of the other students had decided not to go home. She had been so excited to finally be able to pursue her dream and study nursing after the break up with her childhood sweetheart. Break up, why did she always say that? The truth was she had been dumped. Gary had left her, or rather moved her out as soon as he graduated. The thin vivacious model who he replaced her with didn’t seem the type to hang on his every word and support him the way she had through his finals and delaying her own plans so they had at least one income to live on. Covid, chucked and Cancer, what a great year 2020 had been.
But Elaine was an optimist, who knew what 2021 would bring she thought, hoping for a protective vaccine that would make a difference to everyone, but especially her mum. Hopefully things could go back to some sort of normal and there will be hugs. Hugs, how she missed hugs. But she knew she couldn't hug her mum when she arrived home. Everyone told her her mum was doing fine and during the skype calls, it did appear that way, but Elaine had a niggle. She didn’t want not to have a last Christmas at home, if the worst were to happen to her mum. Cancer was sneaky.
The usual bonhomie of Christmas travel was absent. The piped music was barely audible and most of the usual cafes and shops were closed. There was a girl wearing an elf hat behind a mobile stand, serving hot chocolate, coffees teas and pre-wrapped snacks. Elaine was about to walk over and get something for the journey when her phone rang. Elaine looked at the unfamiliar number, she didn’t usually answer calls from numbers she didn’t recognise, but it looked like a North American number. The only person she knew there was her cousin, Elsa. Why would Elsa call her out of the blue? Unless she had decided to fly over and surprise everyone? Wouldn’t she have to isolate?
Elaine pressed accept call on her phone. "Mum" , a man with an accent that sounded American but soft, spoke before she could say her name.
"No, sorry wrong number."
"Darn it, I thought she would do that."
"My mum, she's on her own, I organised a cell for her."
“What? You’re selling something?” The tannoy announcement made it hard to hear.
“No, a cell, what you guys call a mobile. You sound English right? So I’m guessing you are in the UK, could you help me?”
“That depends. I am in the UK yes, in Wales. What help do you need?”
“To try and find her number, my mum I mean. She lives in Newcastle.”
“Wow, what a small world, that’s where I am travelling to.”
The station announcement cut through his reply again. “The delayed service to Birmingham will be departing from Platform 9a and not platform 1. Social distancing measures and face coverings are compulsory in all areas and whilst travelling on the train. There will be no buffet service and Cross Country Rail apologise for any inconvenience.”
A small flurry of passengers who, like Elaine had been waiting near to platform 1, began to move across the concourse.
“Hello, are you still there?”
“Yes, look sorry my train has just been called, it’s running late. I have to go.”
“Please, can you just… .”
But Elaine clicked to end the call. His “please can you just” reminded her of Gary. How many times had she had her mind changed by that small plea of helplessness. Surely there was some other way for whomever he was to get his mothers number, she had enough on her plate and she didn’t have a clue how to search out a mobile number for a complete stranger. Elaine pocketed the phone and rummaged for her ticket as she made her way to the platform.
But the worried voice at the end of the phone played on her mind. It was Christmas after all.
Join in and help shape the next part of the story 8pm December 3rd on Zoom:
Meeting ID: 896 1968 6034