The Astrologer’s Assistant – 1

I’m not going to begin with the usual “OMG I haven’t blogged in forever I’m going to start blogging everyday from now mother promise!” preface. Every month would do.

Phew. And with that out of the way – here’s the beginning of a short story I’m currently working on for my fiction writing class.

“That’s my seat.”

I looked up from my copy of Stardust (mostly embarrassed that someone had caught me with a copy of Stardust, but that was the least cringeworthy publication the newspaper stand nearby carried). A wizened old man with a bristly, unapologetic beard shaped much like the Indian peninsula was staring down at me. Air conditioning had done nothing to stop his perspiration.

“Could you remove your bag from my seat please?”

At least he was polite. I looked around at the rest of the compartment; a perfectly normal collection of pilgrims aboard the best coach the Indian Railways was willing to offer for the Chennai-Tirupati Express. Nothing extraordinary here – except for the sheer number of unoccupied seats separating these individuals.

“The compartment is pretty empty,” I ventured, hoping the man would take a hint.

“But this is my seat.”

I accepted defeat and dutifully transferred the burden of my backpack from his seat to the overhead rack the Indian Railways commendably provided for this purpose.

The man sat down next to me, and promptly expanded his sphere of influence to the solitary elbow rest that separated our seats (shame on you, Indian Railways!). I distracted myself with the Stardust cover story, a piece of particularly fine journalism: a popular new actress recognized emerging from an abortion clinic claimed she was only visiting her childhood friend, a nurse; however, the enterprising journalist had an inside source who claimed that she’d been a little too friendly with an actor whose name rhymed with…

“She’s lying, you know,” interrupted the old man.

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