Excess Baggage

Photo of a pile of dirty dishes in a small sink with a single tap, used as a micro fiction prompt
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

We stopped at Novosibirsk and waited on the  platform; as with all other stops, there were locals selling soda, peanuts, pickled fish, two-minute noodles, and the powdered mash potato that had been my staple; I’d get hot water from the surly samovar attendant and with a little stirring, giving me that sense of having cooked a meal, I turned out a delicious starchy mush that paired nicely with whatever vodka was going.

There were families making the journey home with large household goods, crossing more time-zones than IKEA could deliver; soldiers bidding farewell to teary loved ones; itinerant workers decked out in hi-vis; and, at a distance I liked to maintain, others who were clearly tourists like me, although I felt less tourist like with the scene now familiar enough, so much so that I thought nothing of a lady waiting beside a kitchen sink laden with pots and pans, her layered clothing  giving her slight frame a look of sturdiness, a pale blue shawl covering her head like a matryoshka doll; she didn’t look strong enough to be moving her belongings but it became evident that it was mounted on wheels, a fact I noted when she began to inch it closer to the edge of the platform, not minding the gap as she joined forces with her inner matryoshka and gave it a heave over the edge, the cacophony of clanging metal catching the attention of the others.

Anticipating the third act in this drama, we turned to our left in unison, eyes fixed on the train from Moscow that was chugging along through the tunnel, two bright balls of light shooting across on rails, too fast to stop and avoid a collision, sending the sink flying through the air and bouncing a few times before being squashed like a Scandinavian flat pack as the train came to a screeching stop while Ms. Matryoshka, feet firmly planted on the platform, hand on hips, let out an uproarious laugh, dusted her hands with pride in her efforts, bought a bag of nuts and boarded the train, her baggage reduced to just a red handbag and a metal colander with swirls of cooked pasta that had dried and clung to its insides, making it look like a brain.


A story inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week 94 (anyone else see a train approaching through a tunnel, heading toward the sink full of dishes?) and an eventful Tran-Siberian journey I took in 2007. I dug out the photo after writing this story. In my memory it had been a kitchen sink I had seen sitting on the platform, but turns out it was a bathtub- still a surprising scene.



24 thoughts on “Excess Baggage

  1. I like the way everything is thrown together like an overladen sink of senses, of smells and sights layered and overlapping each other. Lovely writing as always, Mek. And yes I saw a train. It reminded me of the time I visited Auschwitz, something about those dispossessed items too. But I didn’t feel I could do justice to a story about this in 3 lines.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Dave. Thanks! Sometimes the 3LT images Sonya picks are stories that write themselves. Maybe 3 lines would work well with what I imagine would be a stark visit that brings up a lot of raw emotion. A longer piece could lose the immediate emotions. Maybe I’m just trying to put forward the case for you writing that piece.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, they do write themselves at time, you’re right. It was a very emotional visit, unreal too really. You’ve got me intrigued, I may attempt it. But not sure I would post it. Hope you’re well and enjoying Garcia Marquez. Eager to know your impressions sometime. Good to see you writing here again btw—keep it up!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hope you do attempt it. I am sure you’ll handle it sensitively and with some interesting insight. I started on the story about the president in exile. It is okay, but I haven’t been hugely drawn into the story. It didn’t help that I was reading while at the bmx track with my son so it was a few lines in between looking at his tricks he wanted to show me haha. It did start getting interesting where I stopped though, at the point where the president is lunching with the paramedic. Do you know what 3 years of blogging have taught me though? Publication and fame have nought to do with the quality of writing. I was reading that story and thinking I have read better or on par amongst my blogging peers. I intend that to be a comment on the quality of blogs I read than the lack of quality of GGM.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ouch! That hurts more than harsh feedback on my own stories 🙂 I’ve been reading and loving Marquez’s books longer than I’ve been writing. I do feel he’s more of a novel than a short story writer though. His prose is often so dreamy it needs time to develop. But I love the way he engages the senses (sometimes without you noticing). And sometimes he’ll surprise you at the sentence level—you think you know where the line is going and then he takes it somewhere you never expected. I do hope you enjoy at least one story! One year of blogging has taught me that people have vastly differing tastes, and that’s okay. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Just being honest. I had high exoectations based on 100 years of solitude. If this redeems him at all- the experience has not been so bad that I wouldn’t keep reading haha. You’re right- tastes vary and it us okay! Have a lovely week 😊

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