Saturday, 28 January 2017

This blog's pageview stats tell me I'm getting a regular readership (or at least a "glancership") because it gets about 300 visits a day. The vast majority of you (6,685 last month) are in the USA.

On the basis that some of you might be looking for a touch of escapism right now, here's a story that has more than a suggestion of escape in it. Enjoy!

The Longest Day

 Jeanne Laporte’s journey had started more than a thousand miles away. Ahead was what could be the most difficult part, when the documents she carried would be subjected to the closest scrutiny. Again she took the little mirror out of her purse  and touched her hair. That gave her the chance to check if anyone was watching her. Even more important ly, she could briefly touch the papers that would be her passport to freedom.
     There had been many moments of doubt. A couple of times she’d nearly panicked. On the station at Schaumburg, just before the train pulled in, when she thought she was being watched by a man in an unfamiliar uniform; in the café at Henrieville when she’d spilled coffee on her ticket, the little piece of card that had cost her so much. She worried that it might be queried by the ticket-collector. With every incident she‘d become more anxious.
     ‘Don’t think about it,’ she said to herself, ‘Just do it. You’ve come this far. You’re almost there.’
     Always there was this feeling of being a stranger in an alien land. She knew the language of course, but the accent was different here. There was no one to turn to. She was on her own now.
     Sometimes she had the feeling she was being followed. She resisted the temptation to turn. ‘Feel confident and you’ll look confident,’ had been the advice.
     Now it was time for the last few steps, no more than the length of a football pitch. Just stand up from her table at the pavement café, pay the bill (she hadn’t spilled the coffee here - was that a good sign?), cross the street and enter the imposing building facing her. In less than an hour, once the paperwork was completed, she could be on another train, a train that would take her home.
     Her new home. The word had a different meaning now. No more looking over her shoulder. No panic at the late-night knock on the door . Freedom.

The highway out of town ran alongside the rail tracks. Just before the road swung away northwards, Jeanne saw again the sign she’d seen on the way into town. Now she saw it from the other side. “Al’s Diner and Gas Station. Get filled up before you leave Reno. There’s a whole lotta desert ahead.”

In case you think I’ve invented the town names to suggest this “escape” story is set in Europe , Schaumburg is in Illinois and Henrieville is in Utah.

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