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10-minute Free-Write Challenge: The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers - Nikki Young Writes

Photo Credit: Stewardship Transformin/Flickr

Have you ever fainted?

I saw it happen many times at secondary school – usually in assemblies when someone would keel over. It was quite comical, though not really, as it can be dangerous for the poor person who has actually unknowingly fallen over.

Although I often felt faint, I never blacked out. Sometimes, I would feel sick and need to sit down, take a few breaths and allow the wave of nausea to pass. This would happen on school trips, where you’re traipsing around, following a group and having to listen and concentrate on what someone is telling you whilst trying to answer questions on a sheet. Something like that. Occasions where perhaps the room was hot and we were had to wear our coats.

There was one time, though when I was on a packed commuter train heading to London, where I worked at the time. I don’t remember feeling particularly unwell that day, but it was cold and I had lots of layers on. The train was so full that I had to stand and in addition, we were forced to move in to the main carriage, so I was hovering over the people who had been lucky enough to get a seat.

Anyone who commutes will know that no one raises their heads on the train, or indeed at any point during their morning routine of getting to work. It’s very much everyman for himself.

On this particular day, I felt myself get hotter and hotter and was trying desperately not to focus on the windows as they continued to steam up. I couldn’t move, so was unable to take my coat off and I doubt anyone would have noticed how ill or green I may have looked. That is, they wouldn’t have known at all had I not…


Yes, if you want to get a seat on a packed commuter train, all you have to do is fall on the floor, as the next thing I knew, I was sitting on a seat wondering what the hell had happened.

A couple of people had picked me up and put me on a seat, kindly giving theirs up for me. Everyone else stayed unmoving, though they may have raised their eyebrows in disgust at my causing a disruption, however short that was.

Yes, the kind people who bothered to help me that day were a rare breed in commuter land I’m afraid. It just isn’t the done thing to express any interest in anyone around you during your morning trip to work.

Thankfully I haven’t fainted since.

This post is a 10 minute free-write using the writing prompts from Cheryl Strayed. I used ‘The Kindness of Strangers’ as my prompt for this post.

Thanks to Eli from Coach Daddy Blog for alerting me to this challenge.

Sharing this for What I’m Writing.

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Comments (16)

  1. Mummy Tries 11th January 2016 at 8:24 am

    Gosh hon did this actually happen? Fab little piece of writing, short bursts of inspo are fab aren’t they 🙂

  2. johannewinwood 11th January 2016 at 9:16 am

    Serendipity is a wonderful thing. I wrote in my planner this morning ‘Find some writing prompts’ and up pops your post mentioning a source of writing prompts! As a regular fainter I can relate to your story so well – it’s a moment of total vulnerability when the kindness of strangers is most welcome (and in my experience readily forthcoming)

  3. Rachael 12th January 2016 at 9:50 am

    Oooh great post! I love a prompt too… I just free wrote a post for a blog I’d love to be featured on… I was putting it of for ages then just took the month’s theme and free wrote! It needs editing but if I make the grade you’ll see it 🙂

    As for the kindness of strangers on a packed commuter train – a rare breed indeed… I’m glad you found some compassion when you needed it. x

  4. maddy@writingbubble 12th January 2016 at 9:09 pm

    A great bit of free writing but what a horrible thing to have happened to you. I hate that faint feeling, although I’ve only ever fainted after injections so thankfully not in public! Glad you found some kindness amongst strangers. Those prompts look really interesting too. I think I could do with a bit more of this type of creativity – free-writing seems very, well, freeing! Thanks for linking to #WhatImwriting.

  5. VaiChin @RamblingThroughParenthood 12th January 2016 at 11:05 pm

    I love the sound of free writing. Will be checking out the prompts too as am looking to take up writing exercises this year. #whatimwriting

  6. Alice @ The Filling Glass 13th January 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I like the idea of writing prompts to get the writing flowing. I keep hearing about Cheryl Strayed too, need to find out what she’s about…

  7. sophieblovett 13th January 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I really like the way you’ve structured this – pretty impressive for a ten minute piece! You’ve reminded me of my one and only fainting experience as a result of working (and playing) way too hard on a training residential in Athens… I might just have to write about that too 😉 xx

  8. Emily Organ 15th January 2016 at 5:09 pm

    You wrote this in ten minutes? It’s amazing how much you can achieve when you add the pressure of time. Like you I have had many close fainting episodes and a few of those on commuter trains. Thankfully I never passed out but sat on the floor a number of times to recover which caused even more of those disapproving commuter eyebrows to raise. I don’t miss those days!

  9. Sara (@mumturnedmom) 16th January 2016 at 6:56 pm

    I have fainted more times than I care to remember! Must check out these prompts… I’m looking to write creatively for more than just The Prompt this year, need some inspiration! This is great for a ten minute write, it is amazing what you can do when you’re focused x #whatimwriting

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