Seven subway stops to eternity


For years a mere seven subways stops divided me from my mother.

Yet for a daughter like me, this was as great a distance as the width of United States.

My mother always warned me about living along.

She claimed Hellís Kitchen still lived up to its name.

I always told her during our calls that the yuppies from New Jersey chased out all the criminals, proving that even hardened drug addicts couldnít stand such spoiled brats Ė while her street uptown grew more and more desperate.

Her gutters grew as thick with the bodies of junkies and drunks as other streets had fast food wrappers.

During those years I had to count my change to feed myself, often relying on condiments from my waitress job to keep from starving.

My street was, of course, as haunted by honking horns as hers eve was.

Then, about eight years after my fatherís death, something told me to go home.

So I dropped the token in the subway turnstile and make the long journey uptown to my mother.

The apartment was as cheery as a cave and my mother, living alone for so long seemed as shriveled as a bat, cobwebs and dirty dishes on every side.

And my mother lay curled on her bed, her gaze already closing against the light.

She could feel her way from bed to bathroom, and to the kitchen for food, but no more.

She said the broken elevator kept her from going outside.

The place smelled like dead fish, and scrub as I did, I could not scrub it out.

My cleaning or perhaps my company allowed my mother to come a live again, a withering flower fed water so as to bloom again if only for a short time.

She smiled when I read to her.

She gripped my hand.

Then, she died, leaving me to close up the cave after her, and to retake the subway stop back that now turned into an eternity.


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