image by christine renney

Cooper recognised the man on the other side of the carriage.  He couldn’t place him, wasn’t sure from where or when, but he was sure that he and the man had met before. Shuffling across in his seat, he moved closer until he and the man were sitting directly opposite each other. 

Glancing around the carriage and trying not to appear too obvious he studied the man’s face.  He was ordinary looking, and unassuming and older than Cooper had at first thought.  If it hadn’t been late, if they hadn’t been alone, just the two of them in the carriage, perhaps he wouldn’t have spoken. 

‘I’m sure we’ve met before,’ he said. 

‘No,’ the man snapped, ‘no, I don’t think so.’ 

Cooper was taken aback by the man’s abrupt response and at how defensive he had suddenly become. 

‘Well, I do think so,’ he responded. 

 The man was squirming in his seat and, shoulders hunched, he stared down at his shoes. 

‘Please stop,’ he said, but softer now and he appeared smaller, shrunken in his clothes.  Cooper wondered – was it possible that the man was shrivelling away to nothing right in front of his face? 

‘Okay.’ he said.  ‘Let’s just forget it but I know we have met before; I just can’t remember exactly when or where.  We were younger, much younger.’ 

The man was pushed back in the seat now, his hands gripping the armrests to keep him from falling, from slipping onto the floor, his head slumped forward onto his chest. 

‘Please stop.’ he mumbled. 

Cooper leant forward in order to hear more clearly and he could see the man’s skull through his grey and thinning hair.  The skin was almost translucent, like wrinkled tissue but with pockmarks and liver spots. 

‘Please stop,’ the man murmured again, ‘please stop talking, please stop looking.’ 

And Cooper did try.  He studied his own reflection in the dark windows as the man cowered but he couldn’t stop. 

‘I know,’ he said, ‘I know that you remember.’ 

7 thoughts on “THE CARRIAGE

  1. This gave me chills. A bit creepy, but that’s what makes it a good read! I wonder if Cooper ever had his query answered/satisfied.

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