Escape From Bath

A flash fiction story by Brian Robinson.

Crescent shaped buildings at Bath

As I boarded the train from Bath to Paddington, serious doubts began to creep in. I knew that moving to London would be like moving to another planet. Nonetheless, I had made my mind up. I decided that life should never be predictable: it should always be random. I wanted adventure. I didn’t want to marry the girl next door. I wanted to find someone exciting and vibrant and I somehow knew that could never happen in Bath.

The positives were that I had a reasonable amount of money in my pocket and a degree to my name, so in theory, I shouldn’t be destitute any time soon. As I got off the train I didn’t yet have a hotel booked. That was a deliberate part of my random strategy. I would decide which hotel to stay only when in the taxi.

“Where to young man?” I rattled off the names of four hotels which I knew were reasonably priced and not light years away from Paddington.

“Yes, but which one?”

“I don’t mind. You decide.”

“I don’t usually recommend hotels. I’ll need to know a bit more about your visit.”

“I’ve just started a gap year, and I’m looking for love, life and adventure.”

Historic building .

“Okay. Well in that case I none of your hotels fit. I have another in mind. Do you want to know more?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, I can tell you that if you decide to go there you will certainly meet the love of your life.”

Pull the other one I thought. “How will I know if it’s her? I could get hooked up with the wrong girl,” I said smiling to myself.

“Good question! She will be wearing a pearl earring. That will be enough to single her out.”

“Like in the painting you mean?”

The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer.

“Well not quite. The earring in the painting is actually quite large, but she will definitely be wearing just one?”

When I arrived at the hotel the girl with a pearl earring was nowhere to be seen. No surprises there, I thought. I stayed in the hotel bar all that evening and guess what? Still no sign of the girl with a pearl earring.

But at breakfast the next morning, there she was, sitting alone. She looked so beautiful that I couldn’t help but stare.

I had to approach her, I had to, even though it felt cripplingly awkward. “Do you mind if I join you?”

She looked around. “There are other tables.”

“Yes, but I couldn’t help noticing your lovely earring. Does that sound a bit lame?”

An unusual take on the same painting.

“No, lots of people admire my earring. It’s a nod to the painting of course. I absolutely love art. The earring was a gift from my dad.”

“He’s not a taxi driver is he?” I said trying to put two and two together in my head.

“No, he’s an architect.”

“I take it London’s not your home. You wouldn’t be in a hotel otherwise.”

“No, I’m just visiting for a few days. I have friends here and we’re going to an art exhibition.”

“Can I ask where home is?”

“Bath, my home is in Bath, I travelled up on the train today.”

A view of Pulteney Weir Bath.

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