J.S Cross was born in Massachusetts and currently resides in Tennessee. Aspiring writer for novels and short stories. Alongside writing, she draws, paints, and spends time with her family and pets.
Bus Stop Conversations
“Hey, how are you bud?” A middle aged man questioned you.
“Just waiting for my mother to get off the bus, Sir.” You spoke uncomfortably.
Talking to strangers has always made you uneasy. Something in the way they so freely spoke to someone they did not know. As if they have been friends for years.
“Oh is she coming from work?” He sat on the bench.
“Just to visit, Sir.”
“Well that’s lovely,” he offered a grin.
You gave your best smile given the circumstances. You will try to be kind, he has not wronged you in any way.
Little did he know is, you could not stand your mother. She had always been way too pushy. Never giving you any privacy throughout the years.
Glancing to your watch you realized the bus would not arrive for another hour or so. You let out a sigh and sat down beside the man.
He was probably mid 40’s, a simple looking man.
As if sensing your discontentment, he began to speak again, “Let me tell you a story, boy.”
“When I was a young, I was very independent. A man of freedom if you will. I would never ask for help, come hell or high water, I would find my own way.
My father, a very traditional man, had always raised me to be that way. To pave my own way.
My mother on the other hand, she loved to coddle you,” He smiled softly.
“'Don’t overwork yourself, Johnny!’ She’d always yell. ‘Come inside, it’s late!’” He chuckled as he spoke in a high pitched voice.
“It seemed to my young mind that she loved to micromanage my life. I began to push her away. I was my own man, after all. I would stay out late, eating food at a diner rather than at home with my parents where she’d pester me about my day. I would go as far to work overtime to escape her questions.”
He glanced up at you, “Then one day I broke the news to her, ‘I would be moving to the city! I got a great job lined up!’”
You took note of just how similar his story was to yours.
You had quite literally uprooted yourself from the family home to a big city out west. For the very same reasons of feeling micromanaged by your mother.
“Listen here, kid, and listen well. A month after I had moved from home, my mother had fallen ill, passed away in her sleep. Her body was too old to fight off the sickness. She had passed a day after my father had rung me to inform me. I couldn’t even get a goodbye or tell her I loved her. I began reflecting on my childhood and early teens.
I honestly, couldn’t even tell you the last time I had given her a hug. Did I even say thank you for all she did for me? She had raised my siblings and I. Clothes on our back, a hot home cooked meal on the table waiting for me every night. Even the many times I wouldn’t show up, she set my place at the table.”
You shifted in your seat once more as he continued.
“Regret is the singular feeling that stuck through all these some odd, twenty years. And boy, did I feel every emotion. Disbelief, sadness, guilt, rage even. I reevaluated everything. What could I have done differently?
For starters, I should have accepted that she wanted to be in my life. She wasn’t trying to control my life, she just wanted to be apart of it. She knew her days were numbered.”
A bus came to stop at the curb, just mere meters in front of the two of you.
The man pat you on the shoulder and rose to his feet, “I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t waste time, kid. Appreciate her while she’s still here and breathing.”
You let out a breath you did not even realize you were holding.
“Thank you, Sir, for opening my eyes,” You took his outstretched hand to shake.
The man winked at you and turned towards the bus as a familiar face appeared, “And you must be his mother!”
You smiled and proceeded to grab your mothers luggage, “Hey, how was the trip mom?”
“Hey, luv! It was tiring! I’m getting too old for 7 hour drives,” She wrapped her arms around you for a hug.
As you went to thank the gentleman who had discussed such personal information with you, you could see he was already seated inside.
You sent a genuine smile his way and a subtle nod as he gave you a thumbs up.
“How’s life been treating you Mother?”
From this day forward you would engage your mother in conversation, appreciate her for all she has done, and be there for her!
You would not allow yourself to waste any more time, you will rebuild your relationship with your mother before it was too late.
“You know how it is, achy bones.”
“I’m only in my twenties but I understand well,” You let out a chuckle. “How about I cook us something to eat? We can have a lovely home cooked meal after your long trip.”
With disbelief written across her face she nodded eagerly.
“I’d love that so much Nathaniel! I don’t think you have ever cooked me a meal! Thank you, son!”
And so you went, you cooked a beautiful chicken and rice dinner, it was simple, but it was a step in the right direction. You listened to your mother as she spoke about life back at home with eager ears.
Something struck a chord when that man, Johnny, had shared his story. You don’t think you’d be able to live with yourself if you were in his shoes. The guilt and anguish would eat you up inside knowing you could have at least called once in a while.
Quietly, you thanked the universe for bringing that stranger into your life, even for a brief period of time.