A Mother's Love
The chilling cold rain rushed down from the sky as a lonely looking girl huddled beneath a bus stop, waiting for her Greyhound to arrive. She had light brown hair with blue eyes that shone with sadness. She was wearing casual jeans paired with a warm hoodie. It was an early grey morning, and she sat alone in the run-down bus depot, surrounded by the sound of rain hitting the ground in a rhythmic beat. This is a mistake, she told herself, desperately wanting to go back to the safety of her house, but as her bus finally pulled up to the stop she forced her legs to move slowly onto the large bus and flashed the driver her ticket.
The driver nodded at her gruffly, and swung the doors shut. When he turned towards her, she saw his nametag and was abruptly forced into a harsh recollection of the previous years events.
It was Saturday, April 16, and it was her best friend Adam's birthday. She had called him at six that morning, just to wake him up and tease him about being old. Brian had grumpily responded that she was going to be 16 soon as well, before inquiring about his birthday present, excited. She had responded by inviting him over to her house after his track practice, saying she had a surprise for him. They agreed that he would jog over to her house from school. Brianne hung up the phone, excited about the present she was going to give him.
She spent the whole day baking a cake and setting up decorations for his party. It had always been just the two of them, ever since he had rescued her from the bullies who wanted to take her snack from her on the play ground in grade two. She had always been introverted, but ever since Adam had defended her that day, the two had become best friends. Time seemed to pass extra slowly that day, a millisecond at a time. Bri spent her time watching TV and anticipating that evening. But Adam never came. She waited until after finishing her solitary dinner to start getting worried about him; he had always been reliable, and it wasn't like he had any other friends. She started pacing the room, hoping that the coach hadn't held them late for practice. Three steps in one direction, three steps in the opposite direction, back and forth, back and forth, the constant creaking of the hard wood floor beneath her bare feet. She waited for what seemed like hours, hoping for that knock on the door, announcing Adam's arrival. The phone rang; she ran to grab it.
"Hello?" she said, breathless from her mad dash.
"Bri? Is that you? It's Mrs. Mackenzie, Adam's mom." Bri instantly knew that something had gone wrong with Adam from the voice on the telephone. She heard it in the faltering, grief-ridden voice that had once been strong the last time she had talked to Mrs. Mackenzie, a fun-loving middle aged housewife.
"What happened? Is he okay?" she had asked anxiously.
"I'm afraid…the hospital… it's Adam, he… he was hit by a car… the police say that the driver was drunk… but my poor boy, he's gone, gone!" Mrs. Mackenzie burst into tears over the loss of her son.
Everything around her froze; she shook her head, denying it. No. He couldn't be, he was always the strong one, her rock. Bri was speechless. She couldn't believe it was true; even though she had heard stories from others at school, and on the news, she would've never thought that it would happen to the one person she cherished more than anything in the world. A tear ran down her cheek, followed by others, as she collapsed on to the couch, shocked. If only she hadn't insisted that he come over.
"…I have to go…the funeral's on Monday, if you want to come." the voice of a woman who had lost her only son cracked over the line.
"Of course I'll be there, he is my best friend." her voice had cracked with grief, still not absorbing the reality. Her life had been going so well, and now, it was like life had thrown it all in her face. Nothing was going to bring him back, no one can or will replace him, she thought as she pulled her knees up to her face, tears streaming down her face.
She cried herself to sleep, still in shock over the loss. She awoke, salt crusted on her eyes, and her body sore from the pain. 2:00 pm, read the digital clock, blinking calmly at her. It was a bright sunny day outside, and it seemed as if the natural world had ignored the loss of her best friend, just one tiny speck in the universe: everything was glistening with new life, reminding her even more of Brian, the life he didn't get to finish. He loved spring, with all the flowers and greenness. She choked on her grief when she remembered what happened.
Slowly forcing herself up she went into the kitchen, and reached for a bottle of water. It was then when she noticed her mother, calmly reading the latest edition of Cosmopolitan while elegantly smoking a cigarette. She had honey blonde hair, and a full figure, a woman who was always out at a party, always had to make sure that the neighbours weren't as good as them.
"What happened? You look atrocious. I trust it has something to do with why you spent the night on the couch as to your bed." It was not a question, but a statement.
"Mom, its Adam…he was hit by a drunk driver." Bri said slowly, trying to get the message across, her voice cracking with the admission of his death.
"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry to hear about that. We'll send flowers to the hospital." Her voice was not sympathetic in the least, and she still hadn't looked up from her magazine except to take a sip from the goblet of red wine on the table.
Bri had become angry then; "Don't you get it Mom, he's not hurt, he's dead!"
"Excuse me, but don't you ever raise your voice at me again! I had a late night last night and I'm sorry for your loss; we'll send flowers to the funeral." She had finally looked up from her magazine.
Bri snorted in indignation and walked up to her room, slamming the door on her way in. She looked around the room; it was the only thing that was really hers, the rest of the house was covered in an impersonal ultra-modern designer look. But her room, with posters of all her favourite bands, a state of the art sound system, and her bed, the blanket a pattern of Mickey Mouse from when she was in grade five, it all described her, it hadn't been touched when her mother had a home designer come in and redo the whole house.
The sound of footsteps echoed into her ears. Great, she thought, Mom's going to try and 'console' me.
A knock on the door: "Honey, can I come in for a minute?"
Bri replied, "I guess so."
Her mom pranced in, her green eyes flashing with excitement, "Bri, darling, I know your upset about Adam, but now that the boy's gone, we can finally do some girl stuff together! It'll be fun, and you can try and forget about him. We can go shopping and get new clothes and our hair and nails done together. It'll be like a total mother-daughter bonding experience!"
"How can you be so impassionate? My best friend was just murdered, and all you can think about is how we can spend more time together? I've lived here my whole life, and yet you never wanted to spend time with me then, what makes now so different?" Bri asked, enraged that her mother was so laissez-faire about Adam's death.
Her mother winced at the harsh words: "I was just trying to be helpful, how you can be so rude is beyond me. You know what, you're grounded, for being disrespectful. One week, and don't even think of sneaking out, I know all the tricks from when I was a teenager."
"But mom, Adam's funeral, I have to be there, I promised Mrs. Mackenzie I'd go, and he's my best friend!"
"I'm sorry, but you were really disrespectful to me, and Mrs. Mackenzie won't mind, it's not like she remembers anything important. I mean, look at the way she dresses." With that, her mom spun on her Gucci pumps and stalked out of her bedroom.
Over the next few weeks, Bri stayed in her room, only leaving to go to school and get food; she was still shaken up over Adam. School was a disaster, her grades were dropping drastically, and although the teacher's tried their best to stimulate her senses, she remained uninterested. Her mother was rarely home, and her father was always away on business trips, so she had the cold, lonely house to herself. After a few weeks of her self-induced prison Mrs. Mackenzie called.
"Bri, I know that Adam meant a lot to you, but if you want to honor his memory I suggest that you remember all the good times you had together; I know it's hard but you just have to get through it. I'm still broken up about the accident but my counselor told me that the only way to deal with grief is to accept it. So accept it and move on. Adam would hate to see you moping around over him." The phone call was all that was needed to get Bri interested in life again. It was as if she was only living for Adam, only living because it would make him happy.
She let her mom dress her up in whatever clothes she wanted, and her life seemed to get better for awhile. Other people talked to her now, she wasn't on the outside looking in, she was on the inside looking out. Boys commented on her looks and girls always wanted to go shopping with her. But more and more, the life she now had seemed so fake to her, and her time with Adam had grown so far away. She started staying out late, becoming one of those girls who she used to hate. She became 'popular' but it seemed as if she had to sacrifice more and more of herself to be envied. It was her mask, but the face underneath was crumbling. She cried herself to sleep late at night, always wondering why she was so unhappy.
One evening, after a long day at the beach with her friends, one of the girls asked, "Hey, do you remember that guy who was killed by a drunk driver a few months ago?"
Her breath hitched, "Yeah, what about him?"
"I dunno, nothing really. All I remember about him was that he could've been one of us, but he hung out with some loser girl." came the brunette's vapid response.
Bri froze. "Umm... well, I guess I'd better get going now, my mom's waiting for me to eat." As the others murmured their goodbyes she stole off quickly, then ran home to that ever cold place that she did not identify as a home. She opened the solid oak doors and walked into the kitchen where her mother was sitting at the table, sipping at a cup filled with red wine.
"Mom, you remember my best friend, Adam, right? What did you think about him?" Bri asked tentatively.
"Oh, that boy you used to spend all your time with… Well, I thought he was of a bad influence on you, he was always calling you up and asking you to play video games with him. God knows what else he did in his spare time. Good riddance." Her mother said bluntly. And although she was starting to slur her words Bri was shocked.
"Mom, what did you do the night that Adam died?" Bri asked, a cold rage starting to spread through her body.
"…I don't remember it too well now, but I remember going out with the other ladies, you know, for our Friday night out. We went to a club that night and … well I think I got a bit tipsy… Anyways, at about 10:30 I remember going out to my car, because I knew that your father wouldn't like it if I stayed out really late, like the time before that." She paused to take a sip of wine and cleared her throat, "I remember starting the car and getting out onto the road to drive home. It was really dark that night, and I vaguely recall hearing this really loud thud but I assumed that I hit a bird or something and drove home. Why? What's the matter? Why does this feel like a Spanish Inquisition to me?" she had said, her seemingly innocent eyes a little glazed over from the alcohol.
"Just one more question, I promise. What street did you use to get home?" she had asked her mom, fighting to keep calm, struggling to prove that her mom wasn't guilty about what she thought she was.
"Just the regular one I always use. Probably Cordova, I guess." Something in Bri snapped. How could her own mother not have taken responsibility for her actions and not drunken and driven?
"I can't believe it. It was YOU after all that! You're the one who killed my best friend, it all fits!" a calm sense of surety filled Bri as she started her assault. "You're the one who always rants on me to not drink and drive, but it's really you who should be taking that advice. You have the blood of my best friend on your hands, how dare you even touch me!" Tears had been streaming down her face then.
"How dare you assume–"
"It all fits. Everything that happened, has happened. You never liked Adam, did you? Well you sick little monster, you got what you wanted, a perfect daughter, a mirror image of yourself. But not anymore, I'm ashamed I even have to call you my mother!"
She had started panicking, "But darling don't you understand, it was just an accident."
"If it was an accident why did you cover it up? You know what, I'm fed up with your superficiality and materialism. I'm leaving." Bri ran upstairs and grabbed her wallet, filled it with cash, and quickly threw together a bag with a few necessities. Mrs. Latimer followed her, and stood in front of the exit.
"Honey, we can work through this together, can't we? I'm sure you can forgive me." she begged.
"NO. I'm leaving; I won't stay here any longer. I can't believe you couldn't take responsibility for your actions" came the heated response.
"But, but what will the neighbours say?" her mom was clutching at straws.
"I'm leaving, and all you can think about is what the neighbours will say? You're more pathetic than I thought you were. And don't worry about it, you'll find an excuse, you always do."
One year and six months later, Bri was returning to her home town. She had taken a bus similar to the one she was on now to a neighbouring city last year, and had stayed in the youth hall there, finishing high school and working at the local diner to earn money for herself. She had changed, but for the better. She was now an independent person, free of her past and ready to start her future. Bri still carried one treasured token from the past, a picture of her and a boy with brown eyes and dark hair, both smiling happily. A sharp pang tore at her heart. It would always be there, but with time it would heal.
Getting off the bus, she walked a few blocks to the local cemetery. It was time to pay her final dues to her best friend. She hadn't seen his gravestone, but instinctively knew where it was from Mrs. Mackenzie's descriptions. Bri felt a deep sense of mourning and remembrance as she tread slowly through the maze of grave markers, each one a solemn tribute to a treasured person. She walked forward a bouquet of irises and lilies of the valley in her hands. The grave marker read:
Not just another statistics, but a
cherished son and friend.
Bri tried to hold the tears back, but they started anyways, a torrent of salt water streaming down her face. She held out the bouquet, a symbol of hope and the return of happiness. "Goodbye Adam."
a/n: hope you liked it. It's my first attempt at a short story, so constructive criticism is welcomed. Pls review!