Two strangers meet on a train as one of them is travelling to Scotland for a family meal. He plies his new friend with alcohol in an attempt to get her drunk. The results are terrifying
This is a work of fiction inspired by the prompt;
Tell a complete stranger about a beloved family tradition.
“It started with my Gran. Long before these fancy first class carriages.” The girl opposite me smiles and decides to concede her book, closing it and putting it in her bag. For an hour I have tried to engage her attention and it finally seems to be working. It's not a chat up line. I am just desperate to share our family’s tradition with someone as the train covers distance to the Scottish village.
“My Ma wasn’t too keen at first but eventually she caved in, gave in and joined in. Gran could be persuasive like that.”
“The same journey all the while?” she asks.
I sip my cold tea and nod. “No other way. Scotland is where it was best suited. The same train, the same day every year. Bolton to Scotland. Same time, same lunch, same location we eventually arrive in.”
“It sounds fascinating, “ she says all teeth and smiles. But I can see she is losing interest and I know I have to pick up my pitch.
“The best thing is the food and drink. Nothing like a secluded cabin in the woods to enhance the smell of cooking. Wash it down with a fine wine. Can’t beat it.” I could tell by her bloodshot eyes and slight odour that the mention of wine would do the trick. “We finish off with a lovely malt from the local distillery. 12 years of age. Mind you the one bottle doesn't last long and is usually followed by many more.”
“Sounds like fun,” she admits. “Many people attend?”
I shake my head and reach for my bag, topping up my cup from the flask of whiskey. I offer it to her already knowing the answer. “No, family traditions are for family only, maybe one or two friends. This year it is just Ma, one sister and me. We will meet at the cabin. Plenty more booze for us since my eldest sister disappeared. We haven’t seen her for years.”
“Wow! That’s a shame,no sign of her?
Again I shake my head. “Too bad,” she offers, knocking back her slug of Scotch. I quickly top it up and add another pinch for good measure. We are just ten minutes away and I so want to share our family tradition with this kindred spirit with my taste for booze.
“Say, you could take her place. You wouldn’t have to do anything, they are already there preparing and there is a spare seat now sis has gone. It's a ten minute taxi but then a twenty minute hike.” I rattle the booze. “This will make the walk a little easier.”
She considered it and nods. “How about the food? Is it good?” I surpress a smile knowing how well Ma cooks.
“Oh it's good.” And the deal is done. Half an hour later we are off the map and she is starting to get off her face as the Scotch is flowing. I am a generous host.
She starts to fade a little.”Jeez I need food real quick. This Scotch has gone to my head. How much further? We seem to be in the middle of nowhere.”
I don’t want my new friend upset, far from it. I want her happy and smiling when she meets Ma.
“Two minutes, no more. Look, you can see the smoke from the burner. Foods coming soon!”
She smiles a sickly smile. “Okay, but no more Scotch. Gotta have food,” she says surpassing a burp.And true enough just 120 seconds later we reach a cabin. There in her glory, with subdued young sister stood behind her, is Ma. Large caving knives in hand. “Ma!” I shout as I rush to hug her. She smiles a cold smile which warms when I introduce my ever weakening guest. “Look who I bought for dinner!”
My friend smiles a grim smile. “Thank you for having me,” she says burping again. “Sorry too much Scotch courtesy of your son.Such a long walk to such a lovely isolated place. We haven’t seen a soul for a long time. I am dying to be a part of your family tradition. Listen, thanks for having me.”
My Ma grins.”Our pleasure. We love having strangers for dinner, have done since my Ma, his Gran started this shindig.”
My friend smiles again, brightening. “So what is to eat?” she asks expectingly.
Ma grins even wider and rubs the knives together. Could cut right through you they could. “Why you are my dear,” she says.
This is a completely new genre for Simon, his work leaning more toward the inspirational side and helping people overcome everyday and not so everyday fears. You can visit Simon here to see more of his work including his true story, the incredible 'From Bullied to Black Belt.'