Read & Feedback as I write: Imperception – Chapter 3 & 4

Chapter 3: Dee

Dee had mentally prepared herself for this moment every day for three years.  Finally, the train was pulling in – this was the moment; the last possible moment she could change her mind.  She hesitated momentarily, her eye drawn to a teal ball gaudily adorned with a mermaid.  The ball was rolling unsteadily across platform four and a young girl was chasing it.  The ball was headed straight for the tracks, and so, Dee thought, was the child.  This was a child she had seen every day for months.  She arrived each day with a woman Dee assumed to be her mother – the yummy Mummy type with perfectly coordinating shoes and bag.  Dee realised with horror that the child would surely fall into the path of the train in her dogged pursuit of the ball.  Any hesitation she had felt a moment ago passed and she launched herself towards the train and the brown curls she had observed so often. 

As she leapt towards the child, just one thought crossed her mind:  “Not again”.  

Not again.  

She tackled the child to the floor, causing a commotion all around.   The ball bounced redundantly down onto the tracks and was crushed, almost immediately, under the wheels of the 17:35 to Teddington, observed by its surprised driver, but unseen by the passengers lining platform four whose collective attention had been drawn to the young girl and the smart businesswoman now lying prone on the platform, limbs entangled, clothes dishevelled, their combined tears forming a small puddle on the platform’s edge. 

Chapter 4: Isla

As it dawned on her what was happening, Isla let out a strangled scream.  Her eyes followed the path of her daughter’s ball whose existence was instantly obliterated by the heaving train – a fate that could surely have been her daughter’s too, she realised with a sickening judder, if only Miss Solicitor had not tackled her to the platform floor.  Isla realised she was still screaming as she fell, sobbing, to the ground to hold her daughter.  She prised her surprised and tearful daughter from Miss Solicitor and sat, rocking her as commuters swooped in, offering tissues and sympathy.  Most people were filing onto the now stationary train and taking their usual seats, but the few who remained chatted excitedly about how Miss Solicitor had surely saved Milly’s life, and how very close a call it was.  There was an electric buzz to their words – so glad were they of an interruption to their mundane commute.  

Miss Solicitor was visibly gathering her thoughts and made moves to dust herself down, accepting the offer of a hand to her feet from a fellow passenger.  Isla realised she must thank the woman.  That the moment was passing and that despite her own shaking and snot and tears, she must find the appropriate words to thank someone she had seen many times but never spoken to, for saving her daughter’s life – for she was sure that was what the woman had done; just as she was sure that she would replay this moment, and it’s alternate ending, in her nightmares for the rest of her life.  

“Thank you” she said simply.  Fearing her voice might break under the weight of more words.  Others were looking on.  She felt judged; she knew that she should say more.  She realised that the occasion called for deep words of meaning and purpose.  But Isla could only state the facts.  “Without your help, my daughter might have.. died…” She could barely bring herself to say the words.  “I really am incredibly grateful.”  

“It’s okay” whispered Miss Solicitor, making efforts to smooth once pristine outfit.  I hope I didn’t hurt her as we fell.  I was just so worried…” neither woman felt a need to say more.  Their eyes locked and a thousand words were exchanged, woman to woman, as each watched the other imagine what might have been.  Isla accepted one of many hands that was offered and found herself helped to her feet by a woman in a teal coat with long corn rowed hair.  The woman uttered “That was lucky” before proceeding to help Milly to her feet also and turning to board the train.  

Of course, life had continued around them and in the short time that had passed as Isla and Dee exchanged words about the incident, the commuters had all filed onto the train.  The excitement had passed for them in mere moments.  The station master readied his whistle between his lips looking meaningfully at Dee, Isla and Milly who were the last passengers to board the packed vestibule of the 17:35 to Teddington that day.  The doors swooshed shut whilst passengers held their breath to make space and took care to hold scarves and bags clear of the doors.  The station master gave a singular blast on his whistle, and the train let out a series of electronic beeps, as if wishing him goodbye before continuing on its journey; all passengers safely  on board today.  

As the train pulled away from the station, scraps of Milly’s Mermaid ball were visible to anyone who knew what they were looking for as they peered down onto the tracks.  But within a day or two, even these traces of the accident-that-wasn’t would be gone for ever; dirtied or carried away as life marched relentlessly on.  

A few silent tears traced their way down Isla’s cheeks as she stood shaking on the train.  She wiped them away with the back of her hand, took a deep breath and found the words she needed to reassure her daughter.  “Are you okay sweetie?” she asked.  Milly looked up at her with big brown eyes.  Isla was certain she was about to say something either deeply profound, or utterly disturbing.  

“Can we still get hot chocolate?” Milly asked, her face clearly communicating the seriousness of her request.  

“Yes of course!” laughed Isla, amazed, as ever, by her daughter’s ability to live in a world of swimming in danger and yet see none of it.  “I think we should get extra cream on top today and make sure we have plenty of marshmallows too, what do you think?” 

Milly nodded her head excitedly as the train pulled into Queenstown Road – Miss Solicitor’s stop.  Isla nodded to Miss Solicitor as she exited the train, mouthing the word ‘Thank you’ though she wasn’t sure it didn’t get lost in the busy movement of people passing onto and off of the train.  The moment has passed.  They were fine.  Just fine. 


[View all chapters shared so far here]

Thank you for feeding back each day. I’m building in your edits and suggestions to the version held on my local machine so the initial raw version will remain here. When I’ve got questions, I’m going to ask them each day – don’t feel obliged to answer them, but if you’re happy to they’ll help me as I try to craft the story. If you have questions or observations I’d be keen to hear them too.


  1. Is the scene with Dee, Milly and the ball explained enough or should it be longer / more explanatory?
  2. Does that scene feel realistic? Does it feel possible that Dee actually saved Milly’s life or does it seem overblown?
  3. Is the response from the rest of the commuters / crowd realistic?
  4. Does Isla’s response feel right? Does she say too much / too little?

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13 Responses to Read & Feedback as I write: Imperception – Chapter 3 & 4

  1. Jennie Anderson says:

    I thought it was really gripping, Very believable and one of those stomach lurching experiences every parent fears. it tends to take me a long time to get into a story but it caught me straight away. I used to live near Teddington and I think the brevity of the reaction sums up that weird nothing to see here attitude of Londoners. I want to know where she’s off to !

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I wasn’t expecting that! Really enjoyed the whole thing.
    Are you going to be using a proofreader? There is missing non-standard punctuation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • PookyH says:

      Re proofreader… I don’t know if I’ll do anything with it at all to be honest. I usually rely heavily on proof readers and sub editors for my published work. My number one goal with this project is just to be able to say it is finished because it has been partly written for many years and it feels like unfinished business. Writing a novel has been on my ‘life to do’ list for so long…

      but yes, if I were to do anything with it then it would certainly need a proper proof read. (however, if you pick up errors as you go then I will welcome you pointing them out too please – thank you).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Terry says:

    Explains the running! Love this bit, short and snappy sentences help the pace and show the reality of how fast things happen, change in life’s moments.
    I think you have the length and feel just right here Pooky, Isla is shocked and speechless managing to stammer out a thanks through tears (and snot🥴) life goes on around with enough interaction.

    Small things- C4para4 missing word ‘effort to smooth HER once pristine…’ ?
    Woman in Teal coat….. Teal ball ? Your repetition?
    Passengers taking their usual seats jarring with packed vestibule ?
    c4para9 extra word ‘…world OF swimming in danger…’
    p10 ‘…mouthing thank you…’ is this words rather than word?
    I’m feeling a bit picky here!


  4. Tee says:

    1. I feel as if the scene with Dee, Milly and the ball is perfect length. Any longer and it might have tipped over into boring but any shorter and we perhaps wouldn’t understand. I really like the sentence where Dee” “[launches] herself towards the train” as we don’t know whether she is going to save the child or carry out her plan. I also really liked the ambiguity in “not again” as we wonder whether this something that has happened to Dee before

    2. 100% plausible scenario. Although I’m not sure a women would tackle a child to the floor but rather stand in their way or hold them back or grab them with their hand. I guess it the child was very very close to the edge and going at quite a speed then Dee might have felt the only option was to tackle her down to save her? Something to think about maybe?

    3. Response from community is very much what I would have thought – some people offered help but most people not bothered to. Maybe you should mention with the people who didn’t come to help – how they breathed a sigh of relief or shook their head? As I’m sure everyone must have been so scared at that moment and it definitely wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by people on that platform. Also: how crowded is the platform? It is very crowded so that people further down might not have seen what happened or sparsely crowded so that everyone would have witnessed it…this might influence how people along the platform react.
    Surprised that the station master didn’t come to help – or maybe he did and it just hasn’t been mentioned? Another thing that was going through my head was how long the train was waiting at the platform while all of this happened as in my experience trains don’t usually wait long enough for all that to happen but perhaps the driver was watching out of the mirror and saw what had happened

    4. I really empathise with Isla – I wouldn’t know what to say in a situation like this. Perhaps to some it comes more naturally how to thank Dee for what she did and perhaps offer to buy her a coffee at the coffee shop where they are going? But I feel like to others, words don’t come as naturally as I certainly would be lost for words and I would just want to thank Dee profusely! Not sure if Isla is that type of mum but maybe I would make my child say thank you as well as polite manners – but I’m getting the idea that Isla is quite laid back and wouldn’t really do that. Now I think more about it, Isla’s response was very on par with her character that you’ve built up

    Hope this helps Pooky! Well done on your novel writing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • PookyH says:

      thank you. This is all super helpful feedback. On my version, I’ve written the station master in now; he’s a little passive but he’s there, urging people onto the train, satisfied that the situation is in hand.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I caught several of the “errors’ Terry already pointed out — it always amazes me that when I read over my own writing, I often don’t see the missed or erroneous words because my mind must supply them. However, in reading digital material, I often see errors so it must be a common thing.

    Loved both chapters, and was surprised by what happened. It was unexpected, which is always a good thing. It does feel realistic, though. I went back to reread the first two chapters and it seems to fit, although Isla sees Dee “leap” but no mention in made of Milly at that point. I don’t think it is needed and might interrupt the flow. The responses of the crowd seemed natural to me, but part of me wanted Dee and Isla to go somewhere private to talk. Getting ahead of the story?

    There is one place where you have forever written as two words and not one, but that might be a spacing thing. Overall, whole thing is original and enjoyable, and makes me want to continue.

    Liked by 2 people

    • PookyH says:

      I am an appalling editor. For my usual books I rely very heavily on proof readers so I’m very grateful of the more mundane input as well as helping to shape the story – thank you!


  6. kmckmc28 says:

    I love it so far and am going try and catch up to date this evening.
    I’m probably dwelling too much on the train but I was very surprised it was still the 1735 there after the event happened. I’m wondering if the teal ball went under the -possible word insertion *incoming* train.
    I’m likely over thinking this as my husband is a delay investigation manager for a train operator. Or maybe the tackling to the ground incident was actually all very quick


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