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Intermediate English

The Girl in the Denim Jacket

a short story in two parts   Part 2 


Part 2 of an original short story . The narrator is strangely intrigued and fascinated one evening by a girl travelling on the same suburban train as him out of London
girl denim She put her bag on her knees, and began to open it. It contained books, and I just had time to read the title of the top one, something about learning English.
    Maybe she was a foreign student, or an au-pair girl, I thought. I wondered what country she was from. I couldn't bring myself to say anything to her though, and she didn't say anything to me.
    As the train approached Harrow, most of the remaining people in the carriage got up to leave. The girl and I, however, stayed sitting in our seats. Why hadn't I begun to talk to her, I wondered? Maybe she too was going back to Watford. I decided I'd say something after the station.

   With a squeal of brakes, the train shuddered to a stop. The doors slid open, and most of the people got out, leaving the carriage almost empty. Just five people remained in their seats, two men, an old lady, me and the girl in the denim jacket. I looked at the ceiling, waiting for the doors to shut.
    However, the train did not move, and the doors did not roll shut. That was strange; there wasn't usually any delay at Harrow. Why weren't we moving? The seconds seemed like minutes, as I willed the train to start again. What was up?
    Finally I decided to wait no longer. "I wonder what's holding us up?", I said in a matter-of-fact way.
    "Yes, it is long," she answered in broken English.
    I continued more boldly.
    "You're not local are you? Where do you come from?"
    At that moment, two men and a woman entered the carriage noisily, and stood at the door, looking round.
    "There she is," shouted the woman. "Come on."
    At that, the three of them moved swiftly over to where we were sitting, and the woman flashed a card under the girl's nose.
    "Police!" she said sharply. "Come on now! Don't try and do anything silly, we've got you now. "
    "You'd better just come along with us quietly," said the man behind, who looked like an inspector.
    "What? What do you mean? What is this?" said the girl, looking frightened and surprised. She grabbed my arm.
    "What's up?" I blurted out angrily. "What's going on? Leave her alone!"
    "You just mind your own business, young man," said the inspector gruffly, "Or we'll be running you in too."
    They took the girl by the arms, and began to march her towards the door. For a moment she struggled, and one arm came free. In the disturbance, a bracelet fell to the floor. No-one paid any attention to it.
    They hustled her out of the carriage and onto the platform. I heard one of them shout O.K.; I turned round to watch as they pulled the girl, struggling fiercely, towards the station exit. For an instant, she looked back at me; I could see she was crying. Then the doors shut, and the train began to move.
    Station lights passed slowly in front of my eyes, then faster; then all was dark.
    As I sat there, trying to understand what had happened, my eyes fell on the bracelet. I bent down and picked it up. It was an identity bracelet. I turned it over to look at the name. There was no name.
.
The End

Return to part 1.

WORD GUIDE
squeal: sharp noise - brakes: mechanism that makes a vehicle stop - shudder: vibrate - to will: to encourage, to try to make something happen - matter-of-fact: nonchalent, ordinary - swiftly: fast - blurt out: speak rapidly - gruffly: in a rough voice - hustled: pushed - struggle: resist -

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The Girl in the Denim Jacket - part 2.   Student worksheet  

Select the best equivalent for the following expressions appearing in the text:


   bring myself: (a) tell myself, (b) allow myself, (c) manage to
    holding us up: (a) helping us, (b) making us go slowly, (c) stopping us.
    What's up?: (a) What's finished? (b) Shut up! (c) What's happening?
    Running you in: (a) arresting you, (b) taking you for a run, (c) sending you away.


Sentence building:
 For the purpose of this exercise, we have chosen to call the narrator "John". This exercise covers the whole story, parts 1 and 2. Students : complete these sentences in your own words, to produce a synopsis of the story.

John walked onto the platform which ....
While most of the people looked very ordinary, .....
The train arrived and ....
There was no room to sit down until.....
After John sat down in a spare seat,....   
When the train stopped at Harrow, ....
Three people entered the carriage, saying....
As they tried to arrest the girl....
After hustling her out of the carriage, ......
Before she disappeared, John.....
As the train moved on, John....
For teachers:  using this story in class :

At the end of part 1, students were asked to suggest an ending to the story. Did anyone predict this ending?

Theme: Changing one's mind.
Ask students to write a series of sentences on the following model, comparing their predictions with the reality of the story:
    I thought (something was going to happen), but in actual fact / in reality / (something else happened).

How many other ways are there of expressing this type of comparison? Here are some examples:
Instead of (doing something), the girl (did something else).
The girl (did something), but did not (do something else).
While I thought she (would do something), she actually (did something else).
Get students to suggest sentences on each of these models.

Going further:
Is this the end of the story? As far as the writer is concerned, yes; in fact, the reader is left to conclude the story as he or she wishes.
Have students complete the story as they imagine it might end, starting with one of the following sentences:
a) "Next morning, when I was looking at the paper (on the Internet), I happened to see this small article. "Police last night arrested......
b)    The unexpected happenings in the train left me feeing sad and mystified. But not for long! For on Saturday, who should I find in the train but.....
c)    About a week after my meeting with the girl in the denim jacket, it was my father who unexpectedly cleared up the mystery for me....

Discussion/ writing exercise:
In English, discuss the different ways in which the story could be concluded, and reach a class consensus concerning the girl's identity. Having done this, have students rewrite the story briefly from the girl's point of view, narrating the same events as those told by the writer.




Visit the Linguapress guide to working with written documents:   
Reading comprehension in the English class
(Version française : Petite méthodologie de la compréhension écrite )

This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress 1996-2016.


Revised 2015 . Originally published in Freeway, the Intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Intermediate level EFL resource
Readability - fairly easy. Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 6.8
Reading ease level:  75.9
CEF level: B2
IELTS Level 5-6

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The story of the jet plane
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Selected grammar pages
Online English grammar
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Word order in English
Reported questions in English
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Language and style 
Word stress in English
The short story of English


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