She Just Wants to Go
March 1, 2010
She just wants to go home. Her head is bald and cold. Her fingertips sting even inside gloves. Her feet are wrapped in wool inside fur-lined boots and still, they are frozen. She wants to be rid of this deep freeze beside the lake even though it will be icier 70 miles west. The wind will race across the open fields and whistle through the aged window panes. But those panes will be covered in plastic and heavy drapery, and they will be closed. Unlike Marie’s windows that are either open—‘cracked a little’ as she says—or closed with only mini-blinds between the chilled glass and the room, which is then inevitably refrigerated. She’s shivered for a month.
She just wants to go home. Home where there is no living area only soft bedrooms, no neighbors that visit constantly, no coffee perking incessantly. Her son was alone and needed her but where was she—having chemotherapy in some massive complex west side Chicago. He isn’t alone any longer, his wife returned but still, they need her and she is miles away with a woman who hates plastic bottles and Fabreeze and shopping. A woman she’s known for thirty-eight years and has become a complete stranger, a woman she can’t imagine having as a friend.
She just wants to go home. She’s adamant that no matter what, she will be home tonight. No matter that it’s the worst blizzard in twenty years, no matter that everyone refuses to drive her there. She’s headed to Metra in whiteout conditions, with tires that have never been rotated and slide through stop signs, screeching to within inches of bumpers. Marie bitches at each instance of crash possibility.
“See, and you wanted to drive down 88 that’s all open highway. Shouldn’t even be driving here. And you really need to do something about these damn tires. I’m not driving this car anywhere until the roads are dry, so if you want it home, your son’s gonna have to come get it.”
Marie repeats it every time she pumps the brakes and the car continues onward, reaching wantonly for the others cars creeping through the storm at rush hour. Okay, she says, forget it, to take her back, and she’ll get home another way. But they are already passed the halfway mark and Marie says it makes no damn difference if they drive north or south, it’s the same shit all over. So they continue toward the shrouded lights of Ogilvie station distorted through the white. Taxi cabs honk, sirens blare, CTA buses loom all around but Marie makes it to the curb.
She just wants to go home. She doesn’t care if she can’t walk, if it’s sleet and ice, doesn’t care if there’s hundreds of people coming and going, pushing and bumping. She can’t wait for Marie’s daughter to get out, to help her out, she’s out, she’s going home and she’s down, under the car. Her hat has fallen off and her bald head screams at the world, “Look at me! I have cancer and I just want to go home.” Terry’s stocky 5 foot frame picks up her 6 feet of 95lbs and carries her to the train, puts her in the seat and tells her to have the conductor help with the luggage. She nods, she sighs, she leans back and sleeps.
She just wants to go home. She calls Bobby, tells him she’s in the first car of the train and she’s on time. When the train reaches its destination, end of the line, Elburn, IL, she drags herself from the seat. The white haired man offers his assistance but she snatches the luggage away.
“My son’s picking me up.”
She shuffles down from the train one step at a time, stands in the silent whiteness and sees no one. Where is Bobby? Where is Marie? She begins to cry and drags the suitcase along the platform in some direction that she thinks is correct. She cries and whimpers and there is no Bobby, no Marie. Then out of the blinding swirls strolls Bobby and she falls into his arms. He shoves her off and grabs the suitcase.
“What the hell is wrong with you? This isn’t the first car. This is the last car. You just had to come home now, huh? In the worst weather of the year. Make me drive in this shit when I just want to be home with my family. I don’t know ma, what the fuck is wrong with you.”
She just wants to go home. She pulls herself up as straight as possible and shuffles as quickly as she can to keep up. She just wants to go home, home to her son and here she is.
Now, she just wants to go to California.