Written by Hannah Retallick
Alarm is written from the perspective of a father telling the story of his unlikely day to his daughter, building up to a chance connection that leaves a big impression. The short story was one of the winning entries at the SMHAF Writing Awards 2019.
We walked along the road, peering into gardens and asking pedestrians if they had seen a tabby kitten about this big? Our search proved fruitless, as I suspected. Bangor might be a small city, but it isn’t that small! Doris calmed down considerably though. It felt good to be of service – so much so, that I’d soon abandoned all hope of the 9:15 train.
As I said, it simply felt good to be of service. So, Doris and I walked home. She thanked me an excessive number of times on the way – I’d only done what any decent neighbour would do.
Look, do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?
Of course you have a choice.
Good. It was then that I realised I’d locked myself out! And seeing as you forgot to return the spare key after your last visit, it wasn’t a problem that could be solved by simply reaching under the plant pot.
Don’t worry, it all worked out for the best.
I was at risk of being late for the 10:28 train. Quick thinker that she is, Doris went into her house and brought money for me to buy my ticket. Oh, and batteries! I stuffed them in my trouser pocket. Seeing as I couldn’t get into my own house, it would have been sensible for me to have left the alarm clock at
Doris’s, but it’s just as well I didn’t. Lovely cuppa, thank you. I arrived at the station a few minutes early, thanks to Doris’s quick thinking and my own haste. It occurred to me, as I waited for the train, that Bunny might have found her way onto the track. As I had nothing better to do with my time, I wandered up the platform, further than I usually go. The toilets were out of order and there were two portaloos there, which I must say required some attention from the cleaners...but that’s beside the point.
So, that is why I was standing at Bangor Station, far down the platform, with this big red alarm clock in my hand, at exactly 10:16 this morning. I peered down onto the track in search of Bunny – far-fetched to think she might be there, I realise, but she must have been somewhere. It was then that I noticed the young man.
No, thank you, I had a sandwich on the train. Tuna and mayonnaise.
There was something about this young man that didn’t sit comfortably with me. He was too still, too intent, too removed. It was on my mind, as I said before, that my clock had stopped ticking. The possible significance, impending death. What if he were the one in danger?
Laugh as much as you like, my dear. You weren’t there.
I studied him more closely. He was dressed in shabby black clothes and had tucked his hands into his hoody pocket. He stood close to the edge of the platform, past the yellow line, stooping slightly. You know I follow my instincts. Well, my instinct was that I needed to talk to him as quickly as possible. I walked up and said, ‘Nice weather, isn’t it?’ His head flicked towards me. It was as if I broke him out of something – do you understand what I mean by this?
You can read Alarm in full, along with the other winners from the SMHAF Writing Awards 2019 in our eBook.