All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Stopping on the Tracks
“I hate you!” I screamed, stomping up the stairs. “You’re the worst mom anyone could ever have!” Slamming the door of my bedroom, I lay on my bed and screamed into my pillow as loud as I could. I hoped she could hear my frustration.
“Elizabeth! You get back down here right now, young lady, or there will be no more of any of these activities for the rest of your life!” I heard a huge, exasperated sigh and then a jingle of keys. “Come on, honey,” she called. “Just come to the car and I’ll drive you to your practice.”
Tears streaming down my cheeks, I slowly stood up and walked to the door. I opened it a crack to see my mother at the bottom of the marble stairs, staring at me expectantly. Her look was fierce, but her body expression showed that she had given up on me. My mother almost looked as if she was hunched over the railing.
“I don’t care about lacrosse right now,” I told her crossly with folded arms. “I’m not going.”
She shrugged a little but didn’t say anything. Keys in hand, she turned around and walked out the front door. It swung shut behind her.
I waited for her to come back, to tell me that she was sorry for embarrassing me in front of my boyfriend, and to offer an apology. This was almost becoming a routine for us. She’d do something annoying, and we’d both get mad at each other. Then she’d apologize.
It wasn’t until I heard the engine of the car roar to life when I realized that she might actually be leaving me. I ran to the window with wide eyes, my heart pounding.
As soon as I saw the familiar gray Volvo that shone brightly in the sun, I shrieked and flew into my sneakers. As quickly as I could, I opened up the front door, stepped outside, and slammed it shut, not even worrying to lock it.
“Hey! Wait!” I cried, sprinting towards the escaping vehicle. “You can’t do this!”
Luckily, she wasn’t travelling very fast. Finally, the car came to a halt. Panting, I raced towards the passenger seat door and yanked it open. For a moment, we just stayed there, studying each other carefully.
Mom looked like she was trying to contain herself, but not from anger. Frustration was spilling out of her so strongly that I nearly shut the door again, thinking about refusing to go with her.
Yet, there was a sense of calm that I also sensed within her. I’d never seen my mother this way. That was what made me silently slip into the passenger seat and close the door behind me.
She didn’t say anything either. We stayed like that for five minutes as we made our way to school.
“I still can’t believe you did that to me,” I muttered suddenly. “People don’t just leave people when they have important places to go.”
“I thought you said you didn’t care about lacrosse,” she retorted, her jaw tight.
I glared at her. “Well, lacrosse is more important than you.”
She cast a sidelong glance, but didn’t say anything.
“What kind of mom embarrasses me deliberately in front of my boyfriend and then decides to leave me at home, just driving away like she doesn’t care?”
The sudden slam on the brakes would have caused me to fly into the windshield if I hadn’t been wearing the seatbelt. I yelped.
“Watch it! Geez, mom! How many more things do you have to do to make me hate you more?” I pulled my hair back behind my ears again.
When I looked at my mother I saw that she had finally become mad enough at me to stop and yell. But after I’d shouted those last words at her, her face crumpled, and her eyebrows welded up into a tight crease. Her hurt expression had appeared many times before in fights, but this one seemed to be more intense than usual.
I felt a twinge of guilt, but then I reminded myself of what she had done earlier. You are not backing out of this one, I told myself firmly.
“Elizabeth,” she started.
“Ellie,” I told her. I heard a train whistle far away. “I hate Elizabeth. You should know that by now.”
My mother sighed, her eyes giving away the fact that she was close to just letting everything go. “Please, honey. Just listen to me.”
I glared at her, but didn’t interrupt.
“I know that you might think that you hate me. But that is not the case. I love you more than anything else in the whole world. You father does, too.”
“Yeah, well, he obviously loves me more than you do,” I told her quietly, as cars continued to pass us and honk at our stopping. We both ignored them. “Can’t you understand that I’d rather just live with him? I have so much more fun at his house. When I’m with him, I’m so much happier than I am with you.”
Tears sprung from her eyes. She hastily wiped them away, and I rolled my eyes. There was another train whistle as Mom started to sob.
“Let me tell you this, Ellie!” she yelled at me. “You’re the only thing I have left! Teenager or not, you’re still mine. And I know that as much as your father enjoys spending time with you when he does, he would not be able to keep you at his place! Please just listen to me. This is your last chance.”
But I wasn’t listening to her words at this point. “Mom!” I gasped, as I suddenly realized where we had stopped. “Mom, move the car!”
There was another train whistle, and it seemed as loud as the music at a concert.
She grasped my hand, ignoring what I had just said. Could she not see what she was leading us into? Terror gripped my heart as it pumped blood faster than normal.
“Now you listen to me, young lady!” she hollered, paying no attention to what I was screaming at. The red lights started flashing and the railroad gates started closing, trapping us right on the tracks. How could she not feel the trembling and shaking of the ground?
“Mom!” I screamed. “Move the car! Move!”
She did not press on that gas pedal, but she had stopped talking and she stared at me like a cat that eyes its prey.
The gates were now fully closed, and I shrieked with tears. “Mom! There’s a train! Mom!”
It was only a football field away from us now. The whistle was going crazy. I could see the conductor looking out of the side window and waving his arms. I could just imagine what he was saying. “Get out! Get out!”
As fast as I could, I snapped off my seatbelt and whipped open the car door. I could not believe that my mother was still not doing anything. She stared at the train in a trance, as if she had expected it to come right where we had stopped on the tracks. It was now so close that I knew we only had seconds left to survive.
“MOM! GET OUT OF THE CAR!” I hollered in panic. Gone were all of those angry thoughts. I ran to her side and opened the door. The train was so close – too close.
I grabbed her seatbelt and clipped it off. She gawked at me as if I was the crazy one, of all people. I took her hand and started tugging her across the tracks, my heart pounding louder than the train whistle.
She pulled back, and I wanted to strangle her for her stupidity. She leaned in to whisper something in my ear: “Go ahead, honey.”
“MOM! COME ON!” I shrieked, pulling her with all my might. In response, she sat down on the tracks, and I was now crying so hard I couldn’t breathe.
Her hand grasped my wrist, and she pulled me down beside her. I struggled to get away, but realized that she only wanted to tell me something.
“I love you so much.”
She let me go then. I stood up and screamed at her for the last time, but it died out from the next train whistle that just about made me deaf.
By now the train was way too close for me to convince my mother to come with me. I couldn’t believe it. I had a choice – to either die with my mother or to save myself.
In that split-second, she looked at me with sad eyes that told me that she’d decided this long before today, and I realized with horror that this is what she wanted. I dove to the side just as the train passed. I stood up and watched the train crush the car like a toothpick, watched it take my mother’s life along with it.
I had never screamed so hard in my life.
A few days later, I stood next to my dad, crying like never before. I saw the coffin being lowered into the ground, with all of the colorful flowers that had been placed gently on top of it.
That was the worst day of my life.
I realized that I’d gotten what I’d wanted – to live with my father. It was not the way I’d imagined I’d get what I’d asked for.
After the funeral was over, I stayed in my room at Dad’s house and didn’t eat until the next day.
“I’ll be back,” I told my father after breakfast. I grabbed my bike and pedaled all the way to the cemetery.
The grave was still fresh – especially the dirt that surrounded it. I laid my bike on the grass and knelt before my mother. I stayed like that for what seemed like a lifetime. The only thing I heard was the rustle of tree leaves and calling of birds. Even they sounded lonely and sad.
“Mom,” I began in a whisper. “It’s me, Elizabeth.”
I continued on without stopping. “I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I don’t think there was one day when I wasn’t mean to you. And I wanted to tell you that I’ll never forget you. I know that I told you so many times that I hated you. But you kept telling me you loved me. So… I wanted to do the same. I want to tell you that no matter where you are right now, I will always love you with my whole heart.”
I bit my lip and stood up, grabbed my bike, and walked towards the exit. I turned around to blow her a kiss. When I did, I could have sworn that the trees were whispering, “I love you, too.”