Express Elevator to Hell This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

"I'm on an express elevator to hell", my mother sighed after I'd tried for the third unsuccessful time that day to engage her in conversation. She tilted her head back in the driver's seat of the car, and squinted as she rubbed her eyes. "It would help if we spoke the same language, but we don't." She paused for a moment before speaking again. " I know you don't understand." As she said this, I knew immediately from her tone of voice that she intended the conversation to end.

"I understand", I said boldly. Normally I would shrink back into my shell of rejection, but I suppose I wasn't thinking properly.

"No, you don't", she said harshly, thinking of me, like always, as the stupid, naive, simple-minded character I have portrayed for her, for the very simple reason of not contributing to the mound of expectations that she's had for me that already clutter my anxious mind on a daily basis.

"I understand enough" I said, though she had cut me off mid-sentence.

"No, you don't." This time her mood changed to one that I recognized easily. "I'm trying really hard here."

"I am too", I whispered, not confident in my ability to keep the conversation from escalating out of control as similar conversations had in the past. As I said this though, I knew that we weren't talking about the same thing. Her tone of voice changed drastically then, catching me off guard.

"I know." For a moment I thought that my mother had understood, and that the conversation topic was about to change into something that would either make or break our already tattered relationship. But, as drastically as her tone had changed earlier, it changed again, and I really should've seen it coming after fifteen years of living with this woman. "I'm just having a lot of trouble at work." She leaned back again, making me realize that she'd turned slightly towards me, a sign of interest that was now gone.

I turned my attention elsewhere, lost in a mental song of sweet dreams, as my mom went on telling me about the horrific drama of her life at work. She stopped when the ferry, who's arrival we had been waiting for, started loading the cars, us included. Even then as we waited to disembark could I hear the dreadful sounds of her fake hyperventilation, moans and cries for attention, and the sound of it echoed through my head, and I tried desperately to disengage my mind from my body, the present. As I listened to the tunes of sweet dreams in my head once again, I couldn't help but realize that my mom had indeed won, she had accomplished her goal. She fell asleep in the car as we disembarked, her cries slowly drifting away, and I couldn't help but wonder if she was still on that express elevator to hell.





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