My story for the Light & Shade challenge
Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality
She noticed my bag as soon as I sat down in the seat opposite her on the train to York.
'Snap' she smiled waggling her bag in my direction.
We were both carrying a Michael Kors tote in the same shade of pink.
She told me she'd bought hers from a car boot sale, very pleased that it had only cost her £5, I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had 4 or 5 of them in assorted colours. Well not any more, but before my ex husband had dumped me for his 20 year old air head secretary, when I'd had money to spend!
She told me about her life, the dead end job that she'd just lost when the company went bust, & her chilly flat, how she'd used some of her redundancy money to go & see a London show, she was still on cloud nine, humming snatches of Abba from the show. She was now heading back to York, her home town, back to her flat, hopefully to find another job though it wasn't easy, she had no qualifications & was the wrong side of 40.
I told her I was divorced with no children, she'd never married, no children no family of any sort. I feigned sympathy, but actually I was heading to York for a knock down drag em out meeting with my 'family', various lawyers and business associates & felt I could well do without my family.
I didn't tell her that my ex had died of a heart attack whilst shagging his young wife, or that she had frittered her way through the family money, aided & abetted by the finance director whom she was also shagging.
I only realised something was wrong when the bailiffs turned up to repossess my home, the secretary & finance director had buggered off to the Caribbean with everything they could steal. My name was still on the company books & now I was being harassed by creditors, lawyers & members of my ex's family who were all looking to me to bail them out.
My new friend & I were still deep in conversation when the accident happened, I'd been to the dining car & bought us both a coffee, not long after I sat back down there was an almighty crash, the screeching noise of twisting metal, we were both showered in broken glass as the carriage started to twist and roll down the embankment.
I lost consciousness as I was hit on the head by a heavy case, when I came round there was screaming, groaning & the flashing lights of the emergency services.
'Margaret' I called, 'Margaret ,are you OK?' When I wiped the blood from my eyes I could see that she wasn't alright, most of her face had been ripped off by a large slice of metal. She would never be alright again, I hardly knew her but I felt so sad, she'd not had much of a life & now it was over.
Voices were coming nearer, shouting instructions, checking each person as they reached them. I felt a hand on my shoulder, 'Are you OK, how badly are you injured?'.
'I'm OK I think'
'Can you get out of your seat?'
'I think so' I replied.
I'm not sure why I did it, a sudden urge, an idea, as I leaned forward to get out of my seat I pressed briefly against Margaret, I swapped her Michael Kors bag for mine. I grabbed her bag & with it I grabbed her life.
'What's your name?' I was asked as I was helped towards a waiting ambulance.
'Margaret,' I replied, offering up a grateful prayer of thanks to the woman who had unintentionally offered me an escape from the problems I was facing.
The lawyers & family members who were waiting for me would wait in vain.
I would be starting a new life, a new reality, under a new name in a chilly flat in York.