Unfinished stories


Photo by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

I leant against the door of the subway wagon and started to read. My travel companion these days was a collection of short stories by W. Somerset Maugham. I dove into the story that I had been reading on my may to work but had not had time to finish. As my travel between home and work was not a particularly long one it was filled with unfinished stories.

I had not read for long when I lost my concentration. A phone rang. I listened. It was not my mobile so I turned my attention back to the unfinished story. The phone kept ringing. I could not concentrate on the reading. I looked up and tried to locate the source of the disturbing sound.

I did not need to search for long. On a bench close-by a young woman sat staring at her mobile. The phone rang. The young woman stared. I could read from the woman’s thoughts from her face. “Stop ringing!”, she thought. She looked as if she was paralyzed by fear. Fear of answering the phone.

As suddenly as it had started, the phone stopped ringing. The young woman looked as if she was relieved. She lowered the phone to her lap, closed her eyes and leant back with her head against the window. She took a deep breath. She looked relieved.

I wondered what it could be that made the young woman decide not to answer the phone. Was she hiding from someone? Her boyfriend? Her husband? Her friend? Her boss? The authorities? I could not say. It was none of my business anyway. Her story was none of my business. Hence I turned my attention back to the Somerset Maugham story.

I had hardly read a single paragraph when the phone started ringing again. I looked up from my book. The young woman raised her head, opened her eyes, took the phone from her lap and stared. The whole episode repeated itself exactly as before. The phone rang. The young woman stared at the phone. I stared at her.

Again, I started wondering what was bothering her. What was her story? However, I did not get time to finish that thought. The train arrived at the Urquinaona station. I packed Somerset Maugham and his unfinished stories into my backpack and stepped out on the platform.

I left the young woman behind with her unfinished story. It was time to move on — change the scene. I headed for the next platform. Toward new travel companions. New travelers with their own unfinished stories. I with my unfinished stories.