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Photo-Prompt Fiction: Clickety-Clack: Response to 'Take me Somewhere' Challenge From Jennifer Arnett

Updated on September 10, 2018
annart profile image

Ann loves to write stories & poems & is always eager to meet challenges issued by other hubbers or herself, to exceed her comfort zone.

The Challenge

This challenge was put forward by Jennifer Arnett, with the provisos described below. Writing challenges on hubpages are exciting; they hone our skills, they focus our ideas and they stretch our abilities at manipulating language. So my thanks to Jennifer and I offer my contribution below.

Here is the challange:

http://availiasvision.hubpages.com/hub/Take-Me-Somewhere-A-Writers-Challenge

Write a short story from the picture prompt and the line, "You can never return."

The Rules:

Use the picture above as the cover image, so that we can all identify which short stories are part of the challenge.

Submit your story by Nov. 15th.

write the title of your story in the comments section (HubPages doesn't like links in the comments and I don't want to get any of you in trouble).


'Take me Somewhere' Challenge

Photo Prompt
Photo Prompt | Source

CLICKETY-CLACK

Steam bursting out under the bridge, gathering up the sky, as the children stood watching the living engine rumble through, brought exhilaration and coughing as it filled their young lungs.

Many families were out with flags, cheering for the old beast on its final journey, sad to know it would never again carry passengers to the seaside, to the hills, to the smoking cities.

The shining heavy metal monsters of the track had personalities, with names like ‘Black Prince’, ‘King George’, ‘Queen Adelaide’ and even ‘The Great Bear’. Their riveted metal armour shone in reds, blues, greens and blacks. Prettily-painted carriages followed their majestic master.


No Character

From now on nothing but nameless diesels and electrics would be humming and snaking through the countryside; the ground-shaking thunder would be replaced by a sedate, refined ‘clickety-clack’.

‘No character in that,’ thought Tom, as he watched until the maroon mammoth diminished to a speck before the bubble of nostalgia popped. He sighed.


What's going on?

Tomorrow he’d be travelling to work in the usual drab, lifeless carriage pulled by an ugly, metal-sheeted engine with no style. These new trains had been around for a while, of course, but the final stab in the back for the steam era had been executed that day.

He knew progress had to be made, change had to come, but often the glamour, the excitement disappeared with it. Why was that? He felt all he held dear was sliding into the pit of the past.

That thought made him feel guilty. His family shone bright in his soul; they were his salvation. Any depressing thoughts could be wiped away with their bright, multi-coloured presence. So what was that black barrenness that bordered his existence, niggling, nagging to be noticed?


Where am I going?

Off to work the next day, a rainy walk to the station to board that uninspiring clickety-clack train to his clickety-clack job, Tom felt a jolt in his brain.

‘What am I doing here? Where am I going?!’

He stopped, turned towards home, ‘I’ve had enough of this.’ He took no step though, halted in his hesitation.

Then the decision was made, click-clack, go to work. Back to the grindstone? No fear! His purpose was to resign, follow another path. Anything had to be better than this one. He couldn’t stand another day drenched by the grey of the city, surrounded by faceless people with whom he had nothing in common.

Why did he have to be away from his red-brick, flint-glittered home, his primrosed, rose-bordered countryside, his bubbly, smile-bedecked family. The hours without them stole half his life!


You can never return!

The blur of scenery showering past enveloped him in a dream, a panic of uncertainty, but he reached work, handed in his notice, cleared his desk and walked out. Already he felt taller, unburdened, despite his boss’s voice whipping his ears,

‘You walk out of here and I’ll make sure you never work in this city again. You can never return to this firm. You’re finished!’

One last journey on the train of disdain and he’d be free. That panic, though, wouldn’t go away. His journey home was filled with apprehension. The wheels went clickety-clack in his brain, ticking the seconds to freedom, the seconds to ... what?

The sodden fields flashed past as the grey turned to green and he felt a little more at ease. The train slowed, for signals he supposed, the clickety-clack got tired and slept for a few minutes, then lurched into another steady trundle. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, think of this, think of that.


Green Fields

Out of Town
Out of Town | Source

The station in the tunnel

Within the familiar tunnel, Tom peered into the darkness of brick wall and was surprised to see a floodlit station he didn’t recognise. A steam train stood at the platform blowing smoke rings from its pipe as if in contemplation. The driver guffawed and waved at him in his silly train clickety-clacking past. The excited passengers hung out the windows, waving hats and flags, laughing, ready for the off.

The stoker, covered in coal dust and sweating his soul out was the only one who looked less than happy. Tom had a keen eye for expression, for the inner being. He felt the toil and worry of that stoker, sweating for his bread, wearing out his lungs for his family who’d see him go tumbling early into his boxed grave. His thoughts switched to the cleaner clickety-clack of his present transport.


Now he knew

That was it! The present! He knew what he could do now. He’d go home, surprise his wife, shock her even, with his news. What! No job! How do we live? How do we have bread on the table? What have you done, Tom?! Then she’d shrug, hug and back him up like she always did.

The train emerged from the tunnel, nearing his home station. What had he done? He’d come back to reality. He knew what the future held. Why should he follow family tradition? He could find some kind of job in the village, there were plenty to choose from.

Most of all, he could use that talent of observation that he possessed. That stoker, that engine driver, that sturdy, sighing, shrieking monster of a steam engine, they were all alive in his head. He could write.

Articles, children’s stories, practical advice about engines, were all itching to get to the page. He might even join one of those restoration societies that re-opened old railways. Even his job could provide a few ideas - what not to do with your life!

Wonderful Steam!

Thomas the Tank Engine at Bitton Station, Somerset
Thomas the Tank Engine at Bitton Station, Somerset | Source

Alive!

Tom was alive! He loved the old things, they had their place, but he would create a new life into the future, build something worthwhile, inspire others. He had a jaunty air as he covered the home stretch by the meadow.

His boss’s words were feint in his head,

‘You can never return to this firm.’

‘You bet I wont’!’ Tom startled the cows peering at him over the wall.

As he approached the final yards down the road to his cottage, his feet danced, the metal strips on his heels going ‘clickety-clack, clickety-clack’ with joy.


Have you ever given up work for a better life?

Have you....

See results

© 2014 Ann Carr

Comments

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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Kevin, for your great comment.

      It's only just occurred to me that my 'hero' and the engine have the same name (almost); never thought about it as I wrote!

      Yes, the writer of that series about 'Thomas the Tank Engine' and his friends would have made a great impact here on hubpages I think!

      Ann

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      3 years ago

      That was interesting Ann and you kept me glued to find out how it ended. Even after I saw the photo of Thomas the Engine and I smiled from ear to ear. :-D If he started writing, he should have joined HP. lol I voted this up, shared and tweeted it.

      Kevin

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Wow, Jo! Thank you so much for that great comment. I'm glad you enjoyed this and I'm pleased I managed to convey the scenes to you.

      Have a great week!

      Ann

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      3 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Ann, I don't know how I missed this, a thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end. The imagery throughout the story was outstanding. I was right there with Tom for each and every clickety clack, I felt the damp grass as we walked across the meadow. I think Tom made the right decision and this is an exceptional piece of writing.

      My best to you.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Good for you, teaches! I think it is a leap of faith but I'm sure it's well worth it.

      Thank you so much for reading and for adding your personal input.

      Much appreciated.

      Ann

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      3 years ago

      I have given up a job with good pay for a better life. It's a big step but worth the risk, a great leap of faith! Your story is well written.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Lorenzo. I'm glad you enjoyed this story. I hope we can all identify with Tom; it's the adventurer in us all combined with hope that things can always get better!

      I appreciate your visit.

      Ann

    • Loreva13 profile image

      Lorenzo M Vasquez III 

      3 years ago from El Paso, TX

      Beautiful story and inspirational. I loved your writing style and can very much identify with Tom. Thank you!

      Lorenzo

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      write-with-coffee: Glad you liked this and thank you for your kind comment and compliment. I've seen your name a lot lately so I'm off to look at your profile!

      Thanks for the visit; much appreciated.

      Ann

    • write-with-coffee profile image

      Maria K 

      3 years ago from Bangalore

      This was a very interesting story. I could visualize the scenes as I read the words and feel Tom's apprehension at quitting a job and moving on to the future. Very well told.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Thanks MsDora: I'm glad you liked this. I was trying to convey the contrast between drab city/work and the liveliness/optimism of following another path and dream.

      Your visit is much appreciated.

      Ann

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      A great inspirational! I felt the joy that comes with the determination to follow one's heart. Thank you.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      DDE: thank you for your kind comment and for the vote. Glad you enjoyed this.

      Ann

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful! You certainly have a way with sharing such interesting hubs. Going back memory lane on that note is a lovely thought. Voted up!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Hi Faith! Don't worry, sometimes hubpages has a glitch I think. It'll all come right in the end! Hope you enjoy your Sunday!

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Ange: Thanks. I find myself getting confused with all the challenges at the moment!

      Ann

    • AngeShearer profile image

      Angie Shearer 

      3 years ago from Whangarei, Northland

      Oops my bad sorry availiasvision xx Thanks for that Ann...hub challenges are the best lol you have started something really good here...well done to you for getting the ball rolling xx

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Hi Ange: Glad you enjoyed this and thanks very much for your comments.

      This one is availiasvision's challenge which I've responded to; I have a different one. I too love all the challenges on hubpages and try not to miss any. It certainly does keep the imagine going.

      Good to see you today!

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      AliciaC: Glad to help the memories come flooding back. I love taking the grandchildren on the steam trains these days; sad that they're just the restored ones but good nonetheless. Thanks for your comment; great to see you here.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Chris. Yes those trains were lovely. Courage can hit you like a brick when you're in the right frame of mind! Your comment's much appreciated.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      travmaj: Glad you liked it and that it evoked those memories. Trains are notalgia personified aren't they?! Thanks for the visit.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Iris: Love the comment! Thank you very much. I appreciate you reading and I'm glad you liked this.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      suzette: thank you so much for your comment. Yes, it's great to give up the drudgery for something you're really inspired to do. Great to see you here. Sorry for the delay in responding - huge internet problems!

      Ann

    • AngeShearer profile image

      Angie Shearer 

      3 years ago from Whangarei, Northland

      Hi Ann wow beautiful hub I just love how you write and love your challenges....this one again I accept the title is " My Majestic Ride" Hope it qualifies lol....thankyou very much for stimulating my creativeness xx

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoyed reading this story very much. The description in the story was very interesting and evocative. I loved riding on steam trains when I was a child. Your hub brought back some lovely memories for me.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Ann,

      Hope you are enjoying a lovely Saturday. I am still unable to share this wonderful hub on Pinterest for some reason, although I have shared others? Also, I clicked on your link to availiasavision's challenge, but it said not published or not available? Just an fyi. My computer may be acting up, but I will continue to try to pin.

      Hugs

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      3 years ago from Flagstaff, AZ

      Ann, thank you for the story filled with emotions and the hard metal of the old locomotive. Courage found can open up new doors to a better life. Great job on this story.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 

      3 years ago from australia

      Memories for me too, strangely I was thinking of clickety clack and the excitement of the train - many years ago on the way to Blackpool. Your story flows with colour, images, and observations. Tom travelling, the train journey coinciding with his decision to quit his job. Very much enjoyed reading this...

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 

      3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Ann, I was pulled along the tracks of your story by the engine of your imagination. Nice job!

    • Carol McCullough profile image

      Success In Life 

      3 years ago from U.S.

      Great story! Wonderful decriptions in your writing I could visualize it in my head. Looking forward to reading more.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Wonderful story. It is sad that 'progress' takes the uniqueness and creativity out of the job. The old stream train was a beauty only to be replaced by cold, gray, steel cars. What a shame! Good for Tom for chucking it all and having the optimism to know he can find another job in the village. I enjoyed reading this and another creative response to the writing challenge.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Frank: thank you for the brilliant! I'm grateful for your lovely comment and for your support. It means a lot. I'm glad you enjoyed the ride with Tom!

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Faith: thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Yes, the countryside is lovely after a hard day's work amongst the concrete.

      I used to live in a house with a long garden which went down to the Brighton-London line (I was near Brighton) and I got used to them rolling past regularly, in fact it was quite comforting in a way - life going on as usual with no hiccups!

      I truly appreciate your supportive comments and your votes. Thank you and I hope you're having a wonderful weekend.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Will. That's a great memory you've shared there. I can just see the wheels spinning as they slowly made the hilltop!

      Good to see you today and thanks for reading and commenting.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Elsie: It's great to have evoked all these memories! Shame sometimes that we have to move on but then progress brings good things too and probably a healthier world!

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Lovely to see you here today.

      Ann

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      Enjoying the ride with you too, Frank : )

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      3 years ago from Shelton

      i enjoyed the short.. you have mastered the challenges.. and I am right there with Faith.. and Tom riding along with the sounds of the clickity clack (brilliant)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      Well, the Pinterest button does not seem to be working for me ... I shall return!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      Superb, Ann! I was right there with Tom riding along with the sounds of the clickity clack (brilliant) ...

      I gave up a good job once to change careers to a field which is a lot more interesting and we at least attempt to correct wrongs.

      Your beautiful green fields photo there reminds me of what I come home to each night after leaving the city, except there are beautiful rolling hills in the pastures across from my home. It is well worth the commute to come home to such serenity after a long day. I do not have too many more years before I will be able to venture out and see those verdant rolling hills whenever I desire.

      We have trains coming through our small home town (not passenger) and I actually love hearing the sound of the trains in the wee hours of the morning in the distance.

      You have met and surpassed this interesting challenge, Ann! I truly enjoyed reading your fine write.

      Up ++++ tweeting pinning, G+ and sharing

      Bravo!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Excellent, annart! I am so old I can remember hearing the steam locomotives just over the hill from our house trying to get a grip on the icy rails early in the morning.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      3 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting story. It's a shame those days of hearing the steam trains clickety clack by are all gone. My father used to work on the railway and I loved hearing those trains passing-by. In the 1940s when we went to town, I used to go down to the train station just to watch those train pulling out and the engine driver would always wave as he took off.

      Thanks for the memories.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      MizBejabbers: Thank you so much for your comment. This seems to be stirring up a few memories which is a great response!

      I went to school on a train for about 6 years and that was fun too. It wasn't a steam train, though!

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, John. Your comment's really interesting and thanks for the compliment and vote. I remember going on 'real' steam trains and I loved it; came down from Scotland on the Flying Scotsman once - amazing!

      Ann

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I can relate to this Ann. I worked in the railways for 17 years, but I still prefer the majesty and uniqueness of the old steam engines over modern diesels and electrics. I gave up work first to care for my mother and then my wife, so I can relate to the anxiety that Tom may have felt about the future, but there are more important things in life than slaving away everyday in a job you do not enjoy and I think he made a wise choice to become a writer. Good response to this challenge. Voted up.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      3 years ago from Beautiful South

      Oh gosh, those trains, clickity clack, up to the mines at 8:00 and back at 5:00 with a load of ore. What childhood memories this brings back! I love the story. The man rides the steam monster to his freedom. This is great, good writing, Ann, I love it.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      always exploring: Thank you so much, you're very kind. I'm flattered that you enjoyed this. It's always great to see you on my hubs.

      Have a great weekend!

      Ann

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I agree with every word Bill expounded. The clickety-clack made the story come alive. I was with him on his journey home, through the green fields, around the bend. His feet danced with joy, beautiful line. I love your writing..

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      3 years ago from SW England

      Aaaw.. you're so lovely! I'm glad the senses worked, thank you, bill. Your comments are so kind, they've rounded off my week and I have a huge smile on my face.

      I'm looking forward to my relaxing weekend so hope you have one equally as good. Enjoy the sunshine and think of me in the rain! :))

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tom and I have something in common: we both gave up good jobs to write. I have found my kindred brother in your story.

      Nicely told, Ann. Great images...I could see the smoke from the engine...the coal, the smell, the sounds...you captured the senses perfectly.

      And I think I'll call it a day now that I've read this. I won't read anything better the rest of the day, so why try? :)

      Happy weekend my friend!

      bill

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