Danny Breslin

How it is…

First Impressions

She sat alone in the carriage as the train rolled onwards, eating the track, heading into the heart of the heartless city. The city that sprawled across England’s landscape like a tramp in a Saville Row suit: no matter how you dressed it up, it still stank of neglect underneath.

This wasn’t her city, this wasn’t her love. Her soul was pure Parisian but she was realistic enough to know that the two cities told a similar tale and were undeniably cut from the same cloth. The same, she supposed, as all big cities, everywhere.

She was here to study and, maybe, in another two years she’d want to stay, but for the moment she was still trying to find her feet. She missed home. The international students she’d met were okay, some better than others, but les anglais…they were as culturally alien to her as Martians. Their gruff voices always seeming to be shouting, the bland food…ah, but the list could stretch on. Such near neighbours yet so completely different.

She ignored the grey sky that matched the grey buildings outside the window next to her, her attention taken by the paperback she was reading. The Lover by Marguerite Duras; her favourite book and one that she had enjoyed three times before. Her passion was literature: reading and discussing books with her friends. Since she had been in this country she had not had a decent conversation about books. She was so far from home.

The train shuddered to a halt outside Wembley Stadium and suddenly the peace was shattered as the carriage suddenly filled with men. She scolded herself for not noticing there was a match on, a fact if known that would have changed her travel plans.

They were loud and boisterous, their language foul and littered with Anglo-Saxon swearwords, some of which she didn’t know the translated version of in French. It was obvious that their team had won, although what team it was she couldn’t be certain. There were no scarves or hats in their team colours. Their clothes were expensive with designer labels, the uniform of the English hooligan.

She would show no fear, she wouldn’t acknowledge their presence; her eyes glued to the book, she hoped they would just ignore her. The one who sat next to her was talking to his friends and paying her no heed. She’d barely glanced at him as he sat down but she’d taken in his close cropped hair and slightly off-centre nose. The only thing that identified him as human was the slight scent of Givenchy aftershave that caressed her more delicate nose.

After a while she became aware that the one next to her was staring down at her book. He was probably trying to figure out why the words weren’t familiar to him, yet even if it was written in English she doubted he’d be able to read it.

“What are you reading?” he asked. She resisted the urge to employ some old-fashioned English sarcasm by telling him it was called a book, best not to antagonise the ape. Instead she flashed the cover to him, not that it would make much difference. “I haven’t read that,” he admitted. No surprise there then. Hopefully that would be the end of the conversation.

“What’s your name?”

She wasn’t going to be let off that easily, but she was determined not to let him see she was intimidated by him. She lifted her chin proudly, “Ophelia.”

“Hamlet’s girlfriend?”

“You’ve read Hamlet?” She tried hard not to put too much emphasis on You’ve. Yet she couldn’t help being amazed that he knew that Ophelia was a character in Shakespeare’s play.

“Sure,” he replied, “he lost the plot and she topped herself.”

She turned to look at him properly for the first time. His nose, while quite clearly once broken, gave his face character. His smile was boyish and warm and his eyes were…were…so blue. She was intrigued, she was interested!

“So what is your name?” She asked, her hand involuntarily moving to touch her dark hair before she could stop it.

“Hamlet.”

His friends all laughed and, despite herself, she laughed too. Then the carriage was gone, his loud friends were gone, the soot-black tunnel outside was gone. There existed only his eyes, the subtle aroma of Givenchy that filled her senses and that moment.

The train slowed and heaved itself to a tired halt. The mob rose as one and shuffled through the doors as they slid open. He rose and followed. Then, turning at the door he smiled back at her and mouthed au revoir. The doors closed and he was gone. She sat alone. Ophelia stared at the space he had so recently vacated and whispered to herself “…and the rest is silence.”

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October 15, 2013 - Posted by | Short Stories | , , , , , , , , ,

31 Comments »

  1. Brilliant! I like this, a good beginning. Now I’n intrigued, I want to know what happens next…
    You are such a good writer Danny, you have a way of capturing the scene in a way that appeals to me sensibilities. You are poetic though equally matter of fact, no surprise really as that’s you all over, but it works really well within a narrative style. You engage all the senses, and that my friend is what counts when it comes to bringing a story to life. Now I expect another hundred lines before the end of the day! 😉
    Will this be a novel then?

    Comment by Ishaiya | October 15, 2013 | Reply

    • Oh no mate, I’m sorry to disappoint but this is all there is: beginning, middle, end. It is actually a true story that took place years ago (Ophelia is real and out there somewhere) which I wanted to tell from the other person’s perspective. Just an experiment. I’m glad you liked it though.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | October 15, 2013 | Reply

      • You can’t leave it like that!?! You know it would make a great start to a novel…

        Comment by Ishaiya | October 15, 2013

  2. Is this a new book I’m reading here? Wonderful start and I hope to see more… great writing, but then we do know you can

    Comment by bulldog | October 15, 2013 | Reply

    • No new book, I’m sorry. Just a short story.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | October 15, 2013 | Reply

      • Well don’t hold back you’re damn good at it…

        Comment by bulldog | October 15, 2013

  3. Oooh I loved this! I didn’t expect Ophelia to warm to the football hooligan at all! First impressions can be a beast. I love the way you tell stories, I didn’t want it to end! 🙂

    Comment by gina4star | October 15, 2013 | Reply

    • Whoa, who you calling a hooligan? 😉 I’m glad you enjoyed it Miss 4Star but I’m afraid that was all there was, just a brief encounter. I wonder if Ophelia even remembers it, wherever she is.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | October 15, 2013 | Reply

      • Haha, just using yours (Ophelia’s own words)! 😛 Hmm, so Wembley, had you just come from an… England match?! And we WON?! Now that, I’m not sure I can believe! 😛
        It’s a really interesting take, to look at something from someone else’s eyes!

        Comment by gina4star | October 15, 2013

  4. Great pace. A fine kernel, my wordsmitty friend!

    Comment by john zande | October 15, 2013 | Reply

  5. Appearances can be deceiving, huh?! I bet that after that she’ll be thinking twice …much like Decca after declining the Beatles!! 😆 Great story, brilliantly written, Danny! 🙂

    Comment by marina kanavaki | October 15, 2013 | Reply

    • I might not be as good a catch as the Beatles but I appreciate the praise.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | October 17, 2013 | Reply

      • 🙂 Everyone in their field, my friend, so you’re as ‘good a catch’ as they were! 😉

        Comment by marina kanavaki | October 17, 2013

      • Haha, blushing and laughing at the same time. 😀

        Comment by Danny Breslin | October 17, 2013

      • 😉

        Comment by marina kanavaki | October 17, 2013

  6. This is a lovely piece of writing! The imagery is so vivid! I really enjoyed it 🙂

    Comment by mirrorsndreams | October 15, 2013 | Reply

  7. Beautifully related and a lesson to us all, not to jump to conclusions about people based on first impressions.

    Comment by Christopher Meade | October 15, 2013 | Reply

    • Indeed, but she wasn’t that far off.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | October 17, 2013 | Reply

  8. You are very talented! I never have the time to read many long blogs but you held me till the end. I remember a story about a man on a train that allowed his two boys run amuck. Loudly running around and disturbing people while the dad just sat silently and aloof. Finally someone asked him why he did not control his boys. He replied that their mother had just died at the hospital and they were on their way home. It is a paradigm shift indeed. Nice story , thanks : )

    Comment by vastlycurious.com | October 16, 2013 | Reply

    • That’s really sad.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | October 17, 2013 | Reply

      • Whats really sad?

        Comment by vastlycurious.com | October 18, 2013

      • Losing their mother. I don’t know, it just made me miss my mom that’s all.

        Comment by Danny Breslin | October 18, 2013

      • Oh yes of course !

        Comment by vastlycurious.com | October 18, 2013

  9. beautifully written dear

    Comment by Kavita Joshi | October 16, 2013 | Reply

  10. […] the same story told from the opposite perspective. So, if you haven’t already, please read First Impressions before reading this. […]

    Pingback by Lasting Impressions « Danny Breslin | October 18, 2013 | Reply

  11. Beautifully crafted, I loved it, you wrote it in the first person and I love your descriptive power, I saw everything, the carriage, the girl, and the handsome hooligan! That story captured me Danny, now I’m off to the next…. 🙂

    Comment by Seyi sandra | October 21, 2013 | Reply

  12. […] drop some more short stories like The Match, First Impressions and Lasting Impressions on you in the coming months but you’ve got to ask […]

    Pingback by Bogged down « Danny Breslin | November 15, 2013 | Reply


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