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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: Washed Out but not Washed Up
By Lyn Churchyard


I was excited, nervous, and anxious to be on my way. I had been saving for, this trip for six months. A trip I had to take in the name of research. Did I mention I was excited?

You see, I am a writer, and writers need to do research – sometimes very in-depth research – in the process of writing a book.

As I handed my ticket to the uniformed crewmember checking names on his list, I grinned at him like an idiot. He just looked at me and smiled knowingly. Apparently, he was quite used to idiots making their first trip on the Indian Pacific. Finances didn’t stretch as far as a first-class sleeper, so I opted for a Red Kangaroo Classs day/night seat that reclined – in a manner of speaking.

I was on my way to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, a three-day journey across the country from East to West, travelling on the longest, straightest patch of train track in the world. From Cook to Kalgoorlie – four hundred and seventy-eight miles.

I stowed my backpack in the overhead luggage rack and took my window seat. Butterflies were doing a demented quick step in my stomach as I drummed my fingers on the windowsill.

The train’s exit from the station was so slow and smooth that it was several minutes before I realised we had started moving. A blast of the train’s horn made me jump and I became aware that the platform had disappeared.

I looked at the clock on the wall at the end of the carriage – it was 3:30 and my stomach growled as it let me know it was time for afternoon tea.

The buffet was quiet, only two couples chatting in a four-seat booth. I took my coffee and slice of chocolate cake, and sat at the opposite end of the buffet. I wasn’t trying to appear unfriendly, but I needed peace and quiet to put the beginning of my adventure into words. I needed to feel what my MC felt. I needed to get inside her head and share her journey.

Twenty pages of feverish writing later, I became aware someone was standing beside me. I looked up; it was Sandra, one of the passenger attendants.

“Homework?” she asked.

I grinned. “Well sort of. I’m writing a book, this part that takes place on the IP.”

I had a sudden thought. “Sandra, can I pick your brains for a minute or two?”

She slid into the seat opposite me. “Fire away.”

I spent the next fifteen minutes asking and getting answers to some “what if” scenarios, which made my first real attempt at on-the-spot research a delight.

The rest of the day passed in a blur and it was nine o’clock before I realised I hadn’t even thought about dinner.

“I wondered when you were going to surface.” Sandra laughed, as I ordered and paid for my meal.

“One of the perils of writing.” I replied rolling my eyes.

I slept fairly well that night despite my less-than-comfortable bed, and woke the next morning as we were pulling in to Broken Hill. I opted to forego the tour of the town, and had breakfast instead. Nothing compares to having a traditional Aussie breakfast on Sunday morning, and the bacon, grilled tomato, mushrooms, and scrambled eggs were the best I had ever tasted.

We’d only been gone from Broken Hill an hour when I began to suspect something was wrong. The crew stood in small groups talking in hushed tones and then we were asked to assemble in the dining car where someone announcement that the train tracks had been washed away on the Nullarbor. This was the first time it had ever happened. Oh, the tracks had been flooded previously, but never washed away. Our journey ended in Adelaide, while Great Southern Railways organized free flights back to Sydney and a complimentary motel stay.

I arrived home bitterly disappointed, knowing I would probably never be able to afford another trip. Yet the train crew had been marvelous in the face of complaints and in some cases, abuse from some of the passengers. I wrote to Great Southern Railway and told them how much I appreciated all the crew had done to ease the disappointment of the aborted trip.

Two weeks later, a voucher arrived in the mail for a fifty percent discount on a first-class trip on the Indian Pacific. Next time, I would be traveling Gold Kangaroo Class.

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This article has been read 851 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Nancy Quinn03/07/08
Very cute story and loved the ending! Loved the title too! Very well-written - you're very good! God bless :)
Holly Westefeld03/07/08
This was a fun read, and I'm glad for the silver lining.
Marlene Austin03/07/08
Nice to hear about life on another continent, another culture. Thanks.
Jan Ackerson 03/10/08
Love the ending! Super for this week's topic.

I'd have liked a bit more of the feel of the trip--sensory details about the train, the scenery, etc. It was described, but not really felt.

I'd love to take a journey like that some day.
Laury Hubrich 03/10/08
What a cool story! I like it! And love your silver lining. What an exciting time.
Shirley McClay 03/10/08
I would love to have the opportunity to have to take a trip to get in my MC's head.. LOL! I enjoyed your story and it was fun to hear a story from a writer MC!
LauraLee Shaw03/11/08
Love your title, and the story was very entertaining. Your last line cinched it for me, though. :)
Joshua Janoski03/11/08
I love the title of this piece. It makes me want to take a trip right now, though I wouldn't want to have the same outcome as you had. At least it all worked out in the end.

This story fits the topic perfectly, and it was superbly written. I really enjoy your stories. :)
Patrick Whalen03/12/08
I'm glad this trip ended on a positive note!
Karen Wilber03/12/08
I love the sense of place that I felt with this. I also want more, more, more details--because I was fascinated with the train trip and because I don't know Australia. But 750 words only go so far. You left me hungry for more, but I'll settle for the tea and the breakfast! ;-)
Seema Bagai 03/12/08
This story began well and I felt like I was right there on the train. The last third felt more like telling than showing. Overall, an enjoyable read. I want to find out about the next trip!
Sara Harricharan 03/12/08
Awww, that's a great ending. I'm glad that she didn't take out her frustrations on the crew and that her first 'research' opportunity was so fun. I felt as if I were going along on the trip too, great job with the -you-are-there-atmosphere. I liked it. ^_^
Henry Clemmons03/12/08
Excellent story. A suggestion would be to involve the reader's senses a bit more. You have the story telling down, just give is something to smell, feel, hear or see. Be encouraged and keep up the good work.
Patty Wysong03/12/08
I loved the voice in this piece, it was delightful. I'd be grinning like a fool, too if I'd ever get to go on a research trip. LoL. Loved it!
Lynn Jacky 03/16/08
Hi: Excellent story, Well writing and I enjoyed it very much. Keep writing look forward to reading another.