Eighteen-year-old Hugo glanced up at the train station clock. It seemed time had stood still, with the minute hand barely moved since he’d last checked. He confirmed the time on his watch and then looked at the departure board, breathing a sigh of relief. His train was running on schedule.

This is the opening paragraph from my short story, Moving On, which I’ve shared on the Tall And True writers’ website. Please note that the Story Insight below contains spoilers.

Story Insight

Moving On was my December 2023 Furious Fiction entry for the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly 500-word short story writing challenge. The story had to:

  • Take place at either an AIRPORT or TRAIN STATION
  • Feature an awkward hug
  • Include the words EIGHTEEN, EGG, and ELEPHANT—longer variations were permissible.

The Furious Fiction challenge takes place on the first weekend of the month. The Writers’ Centre emails the brief on Friday afternoon, and the deadline is midnight Sunday. That first weekend in December was a disaster for me.

Doggy Disaster

On our Friday afternoon walk, my over-excited twelve-year-old black lab, Jet, jumped up for a treat, landed poorly, and ruptured his cruciate ligament — one week before I was due to head off a long-planned road trip with my son from Sydney to Perth to spend Xmas/New Year with our WA family.

I knew the farm stay I’d booked to mind Jet while I was away wouldn’t take him with his cruciate injury. So I spent the weekend exploring short-notice alternatives, including abandoning the road trip with my son or taking Jet with us, neither of which was preferable (or sensible!). And my mind was overloaded with what-ifs, like, “Why didn’t I stop Jet from jumping!?”

Consequently, I couldn’t focus on the TV on Friday night, let alone the Furious Fiction brief. Or so I thought because to relieve the stress, I sat at my laptop with a glass (or two!) of wine and wrote Moving On in one sitting.

Yes, there are a few edits, especially after much-appreciated suggestions by fellow Furious Fiction writers Richard Gibney and Gav Harris (Twitter/X links), with whom I shared my early drafts. But the story I wrote on that stress-filled Friday evening is essentially the one I submitted on Sunday.

Perhaps, like my young protagonist, writing the story was like jumping on a train and leaving behind my woes!

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I found a dog-loving family to look after Jet while I was away on the road trip with my son. We all had a good time in WA, which helped prepare for the operation and rehab to repair Jet’s knee when I returned home in January. I also wrote a Tall And True blog post about our adventures crossing the continent, A Dad and Son Road Trip.

© 2024 Robert Fairhead

Thanks to Ryan McGuire from Pixabay for sharing the image of the train station clock.

N.B. Read Moving On on Tall And True and listen to it on the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast.

This post was proofread by Grammarly
About RobertFairhead.com

About RobertFairhead.com

Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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