Missing the train
Sally put her hair in a pile on top of her head. She fixed it quickly. It would have to do. There was no time for fiddling about. There was a train to catch, a ten-minute walk to catch it, and she was running late. It happened so often that she was sick of it. Why did she do it? She had an alarm clock, she set it, it rang, she switched it off and went back to sleep. If it weren’t for her neighbour slamming the car door she would still be asleep.
Sally dashed round the flat: bag, raincoat, bottle of drink, bag of crisps, banana, that would have to do. She raced down the outside steps. Had she locked the front door? She couldn’t remember. She’d have to check. Up the stairs, check the door, not locked. Lock door, go. Sally flew along the road. She hated running in the rain. Her coat flapped round her legs. Eight minutes to go.
Mike grunted as his repeater alarm started up for the second time. Better get up. He mentally planned what he had to do before leaving the house. He liked to have plenty of time. He hated to rush. As he showered he recalled that it would be Sally’s birthday tomorrow. Must remember to get her something worthwhile, something that would remind her of him, and a treat as well, perhaps a box of chocolates.
Mike’s clean clothes lay on the chair where he had put them the night before. He dressed quickly and went downstairs. While he ate his breakfast he watched the news – not very interesting today. His mind turned to Sally – crazy girl, but he couldn’t help liking her. What on earth could he get to give her tomorrow?
Mike took food out of the fridge: cheese, cucumber, tomato, bread. He made his lunch plus an extra sandwich for Sally in case he was going to be lucky enough to see her today. He checked his teeth in the mirror after brushing out the breakfast bits. OK, everything was OK. He slammed the front door and locked it.
Ten minutes to catch the train. No problem. It was raining but he didn’t mind, at least it was warm. Mike arrived at the station with three minutes to spare. Good. He looked around hoping to see Sally. She was not always there; sometimes she got a lift from a mate at work. The train pulled in. Doors opened, Mike stepped onboard. In the distance he could see a blond head bobbing up and down. A girl was running, her arms flailing about trying to pull her coat back on, her hair flying around her face. The train started to pull away; Mike stood up and peered through the wet window. It was Sally. She had missed the train, she’d have to catch the bus and be late for work again. Mike sighed. Bosses don’t like it when you come in late. Sally had told him some of the excuses she had made up:
“My hot water bottle burst just as I was getting out of bed and I had to drag the mattress over to the radiator. It made me late.”
“My next door neighbours cat rushed in as I was going out and I couldn’t find it. It was hiding in my linen basket,” and so on.
Her excuses were wearing a bit thin. Her job might be on the line. Mike felt his stomach tighten. If she lost her job maybe he would never see her again. After all they had only ever chatted on the train. Then he remembered the birthday. She had mentioned it in passing the previous day. He had a brain wave. He’d get her a repeater alarm clock like his. It starts quietly and when you switch it off it lets you snooze for three minutes then it comes on again, only louder, and it keeps doing that until you get up and switch it off properly.
He would get one in his lunch break and give it to her after work that very day. She’d have no excuse then. She’d have to get up on time. She said her mum used to get her up when she was living at home, but now in the flat she was independent and although it was great, it wasn’t easy.
Sally grinned sheepishly as she stepped on to the train home. There was Mike waiting for her. He had saved her a seat. He offered her sandwich; he had kept that too just in case.
” Ooh, ta, I’m starving. I didn’t stop for lunch – I was late in – missed the train again. My boss was mad. He said ‘Once more and you ‘re fired!’ What am I going to do?”
“You are going to take this birthday present and never be late again!” said Mike triumphantly.
“You haven’t gone and bought me a birthday present, Mike. No you shouldn’t. When I said it I didn’t mean….”
“I know, I know, but I saw you this morning flying along in the rain and I thought this just might come in handy.”
Sally opened the small parcel. There was a little pink plastic alarm clock with a button on the top, which was made to look like a woman’s face with a big smile on it. Underneath, the word MUM stood out below the clock hands.
“It’s a repeater – it will keep coming on until you get up!” Mike grinned.
“Oh, Mike, thanks, it’s the perfect present.” Sally touched his arm and Mike felt himself blushing. “Now I’ll be able to be on time for the train everyday. Remember to save a seat for me won’t you?”
Mike grinned, “Of course!”
1. What do you think is the most important message in this story?
2. Does this story remind you of anything in your life?
3. How do you feel when you are late up and there isn’t enough time to do what needs to be done?
4. How do you feel when you have plenty of time in the mornings?
5. What is it like to miss breakfast?
6. What do people look and feel like when they haven’t cleaned their teeth or washed themselves before they leave home to go to College or work?
7. How do you feel about people who always look clean and tidy and who smell fresh? Is that you?
8. How could you improve on what you do in the mornings to make yourself feel better during the day?