World Book Night 500 words short story competition!

In celebration of World Book Night, Newcastle Libraries author Tricia Coxon has written the first part of a story Train Letter To... 

It's time to get those creative cogs turning - we want you to complete the story in 500 words. The winning entries will feature in a publication published by Tyne Bridge Publishing!

How to enter. Please email entries to Competition opens on 23 April 2020- Closing date  (Midday) 21 May 2020.


Train Letter To......

By Tricia Coxon

It was on the 10.46 that dullness left me. The train was busy, only one seat. You moved your laptop nearer to your side of the table. I smiled.

Busy, you said.

Yes. I replied.

Silence. Minutes passed. There are hints of dark amongst your greying hair. Looking up you smiled. Open. I open.

Come far? I asked.

You told me. A town in Yorkshire.

How lovely, I replied.

You know it?

Yes, the gardens, Turkish baths, a rather splendid cafe.

The space opens between my words and your grey tipped head. My hair belies my age, salt and pepper grey, there is no cover up. I am not heavily wrinkled, nor scrawny necked. I am filled out to what I used to be and slower, forgetting now where never before. Dulled with routine. The routine of age with no adventure. No spark, no sparkle. I eat well, and walk with purpose. Your shirt is open at the neck. Jacket sits loosely at your shoulders. I see you glance from me to the window. Laptop is dormant.

Day out? You asked.

An exhibition. Coffee. Probably lunch. I replied


Yes, the Museum of Modern Art.

I used to live near there, near the Bridge.

I used to work near there. 

I was a student. You smiled again.

I loved being a student.

Where were you a student?

Backwards and forwards, words. A light opens. It's been dark too long.

Here we are then, you said.

Already? Disappointment in my voice.

It's late. I will have to get a taxi. You packed up your laptop.

I thought we were on time, I said.

It was, till it stopped.

It stopped.

Yes, fifteen minutes.

Why had I not noticed that the train stopped? Where were my senses for fifteen whole minutes?

Goodbye, have a good day.

You too.

A smile as you move away. Then a backward glance. I peer out a window. No sighting. Gone. My heart has not stopped. It thumps inside my chest reminding me of life. Of a better life. Then I shiver against this encounter. Too reminding. Too reminiscent of losing control. But this is for now. Not then, nor forever.

Same time, same train. Same compartment. Same laptop.



Please continue the story in less than 500 words!

Have a look at a couple of the competition entries we received in the Related Pages section on the right hand side.

Did you know?

Tricia Coxon is the author of The Stroke Ward. Newcastle Libraries publish local history books through Tyne Bridge Publishing and have diversified by producing fiction set in the north east. 

You can view our selection of fiction books on Amazon at

The Stroke Ward received praise from GoodReads scoring and overall 4.6 and five star ratings on Amazon.

Quick as a flash it happens…How do six women survive the shock and trauma of a sudden stroke, the strange world of the stroke ward and the loss of an ordered and familiar life?By remembering…Trapped in their fragile bodies, the stark reality of dependence, confusion and the loss of dignity is sharply contrasted with the colourful dreams, memories and hidden histories of their vivid pasts.A story about care and compassion; love, loss and secrets; friendship and fear, The Stroke Ward paints a portrait of nearly a century of life in the North East of England, told through the lives of six very different women.

the stroke ward

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