Copyright - Jennifer Pendergast

Copyright – Jennifer Pendergast

I listened as Old Uncle Gerald reminisced about his railway days, hauling coal: “The wagons stay coupled up, unless they need repair. Back then, the coupling tension was adjusted regularly, so they didn’t travel too close or too far apart, and there were buffers between them, spring loaded for a bit of give.

“Separating those wagons was darned hard work; you had to clamber in there and unhook them by hand. Nowadays the uncoupling’s automatic.”

I fingered the document in my pocket – my divorce decree.  I pondered why Gerald was remembering the old coupling methods today, of all days.


Another 100 word story for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers, flash fiction inspired by a weekly photo prompt. This week I called on my own old railway man for a bit of technical information.

39 thoughts on “Couplings

  1. This is exceptionally clever – Uncle Gerald’s wise words on effective maintenance of couplings as a metaphor for a working relationship… a marriage requires buffers, adjustments, requires work. Uncoupling is automatic these days, a play on divorce being easier than working on the marriage…

    Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My resident expert assures me that the buffers aren’t part of the braking system. The braking is air-operated from the engine by the driver. I’m very glad you like the metaphor, however, and thank you for saying so.


    • He is indeed. I hope it’s heeded, although I think he should have said his piece a little earlier, given the divorce papers. I’m really happy you liked the story – thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Doug. I guess Uncle Gerald’s wisdom could apply to many types of relationships. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and that you took the time to read it and comment so kindly.


  2. The mind travels in all sorts of ways. Marriage makes us think of coupling; divorce of uncoupling.
    Whether that uncoupling is hard work or just automatic.
    I suspect that what seems to be automatic nowadays, still requires hard work.


    • It’s rather pleasing when the mind travels in directions that lead to useful story ideas. The coupling and uncoupling in marriage is always hard work – you’re right. It’s perhaps just the paperwork that’s a bit less complicated these days. Thanks for leaving a comment.


  3. Dear Margaret,

    Thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow my mind went to “conscious uncoupling.” I loved the way you linked Uncle Gerald’s reminiscing about coupling to her divorce. Well done.




    • It sure is a weird way to describe a separation. It sounds so cold and clinical. I’m glad you liked my story idea – thank you once again for your kind and encouraging feedback.
      Cheers, Margaret


  4. I’ve never been through divorce, but from others I’ve heard the uncoupling is more like evisceration. I like the way the MC picks up on the timing on Uncle Gerald’s remarks. Coincidence? I think not.


    • I’m sure you’re right – Uncle Gerald wouldn’t deny the emotional trauma; he believes in putting in the hard work before it gets to that stage. It’s a bit too late for the MC unfortunately. I appreciate your comment. Thank you.


  5. I like the way you link the uncoupling of the railway cars to the pending divorce. It works really well. Not having been through a divorce myself, I can only imagine what the rift must feel like. Something evidently triggered Uncle Gerald’s memories. I enjoyed his details about the couplings and how they were handled.


  6. Enjoyed the metaphor for relationships, Margaret. There are maybe many things that get lost in the cracks or glossed over because of automatic transactions. Brilliant take! Nicely written.


  7. Looks like Uncle Gerald thinks divorce is now made too easy. Nothing wrong with his thought process. He’s commenting as a storyteller. He’s got things figured out. Well done, Marg.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s