Going Places - Summary

A. R. Barton is a modern writer, who lives in Zurich and writes in English. In the story Going Places, Barton explores the theme of adolescent fantasising and hero worship

The story from A. R. Barton has a teenage girl and her directionless imagination at the centre of things. Sophie is fond of telling made-up stories about her experiences and everyone around her is aware of that habit of hers. The story starts with Sophie walking home with her friend Jansie.
Sophie tells Jansie that she will open a boutique after completing school. Jansie had heard her tall tales quite often and knowing her current circumstances, she was doubtful that Sophie would be able to do that. So, she told Sophie that it takes money to do that to which she replied that she would save it. When Jansie told her that it would take a long time to save that much money, she said she would become a manager in a shop till then. Jansie told her that no one will make her a manager straightaway. But, Sophie wasn’t one to waver off her dreamy path and said she will prove herself from the start and her shop would be the best in the town. But, Jansie was a practical girl and knew that the only place of employment for them would be the biscuit factory and wished Sophie wouldn’t speak of such dreams that can’t come true. She asked Sophie to think sensibly as the school was about to get over and Sophie’s father wouldn’t allow her to work in a shop as they don’t pay well.
But, Sophie was hardly listening to her and said that she might become an actress as there is good money to earn that way and would have a boutique on the side or might become a fashion designer.
Upon entering her house, she announced her intention to buy a boutique when she gets money and her father immediately remarks that it would be better if she bought a good house for the family instead. Her brother too commented that she thought money grew on trees.
Sophie’s mother did not comment but sighed a bit and Sophie observed her stooping over the sink and her crooked back and felt that the tiny steamy room with a pile of dirty dishes might become her future too and felt a bit scared at the prospect. She decided to go to her elder brother Geoff as she felt comfortable with him.
Geoff was an apprentice mechanic and was working on a motorcycle part in his room and was a person who did not speak too much and Sophie always wondered about the places he has been to or people he has spoken to and the stories he could tell but doesn’t and she longed to know all of it. She wanted to explore the whole world and knew that Geoff would be her only vehicle for that.
She told Geoff that she met Danny Casey, a famous footballer who played for a big football club, at the arcade. Geoff mocked her and said her stories are never true. But, she insisted that it was the truth and she met him outside a shop where she was window-shopping. Geoff asked her to give details of how he looked up close and she talked about Casey’s green eyes and the fact that he doesn’t appear too tall in person.
Later, at the dinner table, Geoff told their father that Sophie had met Danny Casey and she immediately became uncomfortable. The father’s expression told them that he did not believe it but accepted it when Geoff insisted it was true. He added that he knew someone who had known Tom Finney, a famous footballer of yesteryears and that Casey might become that good some day of he was looked after properly and because he is playing with the best team.
While her father and Geoff were talking about Casey’s future, Sophie jumped in and said that Casey is going to buy a shop and that he had told her so himself. The father again expressed his disbelief and Geoff again interceded on her behalf but her father said that she would get into trouble some day if she kept up with her false stories.
Later, when she is again in Geoff’s room, she makes him promise he would tell no one before she told him a secret. She told him that she and Casey had a lengthy talk at the end of which he asked her to meet him again a week later. She said all of it with as much emphasis as she could but he still did not believe it and said so in pain terms.
The whole family used to go every Saturday to watch their favourite football team play and they went there that Saturday as well. The team, United, won the match and Casey scored a goal in it and Sophie felt proud about it as she felt a closeness to Casey now.
Next week, Jansie asked her about what she had told Geoff. She was surprised and angry at Geoff for telling others about what she had told him in confidence. She told Jansie that it was a secret and might cause a problem for her with her dad if he found about it. Jansie was surprised to hear that and Sophie realized that she just knew about the meeting with Casey and not about the ‘Date’ that was coming up and relaxed a bit. She asked Jansie to keep it a secret as she said it might have caused a crowd gather round her house and he father would have become angry.
Later that evening, she walked by the canal and sat down on a wooden bench under an elm tree and waited for Casey. For some time, she kept expecting Casey to turn up whenever she saw any shadow approaching. It was quite some time before she realized that he would not be coming. She thought to herself how nobody believed her when she told them about meeting Casey. Her only concern about Danny not showing up was that she would not be able to prove that others were wrong.
After some more time, she grew sad and decided to go back home. On the way home, she passed the arcade and ran the whole meeting with Casey again in her head. She pictured Casey standing outside the shop and saw herself asking him if he was Danny Casey and him replying in affirmative quite shyly. She remembered asking him if he would sign an autograph and he said he did not have a pen and she did not have a pen either. She, further, remembers looking at his green eyes and the gaps in his teeth. She remembers him leaving soon and herself standing at that spot for quite some time after he had left while thinking about his voice and thr shimmer in his eyes. Then, her memory moves on to the game she attended the previous Saturday especially the exact moment when Casey scored a goal and the whole stadium erupted in noise.

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