Afterwards, they told him he was brave, a hero even. To act in the way he had, without thought of the likely danger to himself, had to be an act of bravery. When he shook his head or attempted to explain that it wasn’t like that at all, their voices raised in protest and they talked about his selflessness and modesty.

‘Anyone would have done what I did,’ he’d said, surprised at their depth of emotion.

‘That’s just it – there were other people around, but only you stepped forward and grabbed that little girl. If it wasn’t for you, she wouldn’t still be here. She’d have been crushed.’

Then the girl’s mother was in front of him, her face still pale from the panicked moment when her daughter wriggled free from her grasp, dashing ahead to pick something up off the ground amidst the other waiting passengers. She’d tripped, tumbling forward, and he’d reached out and grabbed her just as the express train rollicked at speed along the platform.

‘I can’t thank you enough,’ the woman said. And then her arms were around him, holding him tight for a heartbeat before she reached down to pick up her daughter, who was clinging to her leg. He smiled and nodded, stepping back, trying to fade into the crowd and slip into the press of people doing everyday things.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find other posts with #bloganuary and join in the challenge.

Photo: Lithgow Station