Joe’s Trip to the Library- S.B. Borgersen

Bio: Internationally published, S.B. Borgersen writes, knits socks, and walks her smashing dogs on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. Her favoured genres are short and micro fiction, and poetry. She has fourteen draft novellas gathering dust.Sue’s collection of 150 micro fictions is to be published by Unsolicited Press in 2021.www.sueborgersen.com


“I’ll be okay, thank you,” Joe says, with a smile. He’s packed according to his routine list.
Emergency contact number: check. Torch: check. Library card: check. Travel card: check.
Water bottle: check. Peppermints: check.

He shuffles down the front garden path, brushing his hand along the pink geraniums. The
gate squeaks. He wishes he’d oiled it yesterday. Joe almost stops and goes back for the oil
can. But no, he carries on to the bus stop.

*

Imelda worries from the moment the gate squeaks shut. As Joe disappears around the
corner into Penzance Avenue, she’s pretty sure he’ll get himself lost again. She’s written
down step-by-step instructions: Number 11 bus to the town centre. Left and left again to
the library. Railway books are under ‘transport - aisle 14. On leaving library turn right
and right again for the bus stop. Number 12 bus to Penzance Avenue. Turn left for home.

She makes herself a pot of tea at 4 o’clock. Joe should be home by now. She slowly
dunks her digestive biscuit but, with her preoccupation for Joe’s safety, it disintegrates
and sinks to the bottom of her Royal Albert. Imelda pushes aside the net curtains,
watching for him, her ears pricked for the squeaky gate.

*

Joe sits at the train station. He knows it isn’t the library. He knows that he didn’t turn left
and left again. This is so much better, he tells himself, breathing in that railway smell.
Hunting through his backpack for Imelda’s instructions, he feels the water bottle and
hears the crackle of the bag of peppermints. He sucks on a peppermint as the express for
Paddington roars through. He knows it is the 4:30. He knows it arrives at Paddington at
5:12. He knows the next train through will be the 4:34 slow train to Oxford. He also
knows he will be late for tea. At his feet are tickets and travel brochures passengers have
thrown down. Being a stickler for tidiness, for the environment, and for very smart
railway stations, Joe collects them all and stacks them neatly on the bench beside him.

This is my place, he tells himself again. With the excitement of rumbling whooshing
noises and the oily diesel smells, he wonders if The Cornishman will come through —
he’s seen pictures of it in library books. And then, as if he’d waved a magic wand a train
pulls in. Penzance it says on the front of the engine.

Joe boards the train with a smile. He can still smell Imelda’s pink geraniums on his hands
and wants to tell her, “I’ll be okay thank you.”

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