Each day she followed these train tracks on her long walk to and from town. Her young daughter would complain about the distance, her small legs struggling to keep going. Sure, she could have taken the road, and she did when it rained, or when the snow was too deep to walk through. But out here she was left alone with her adult memories of secret childhood dreams of exploring the world.
“Mommy, how far do these tracks go?” Her daughter asked one day.
“They go very very far stretching from sea to sea. In that direction the train goes to Vancouver at the Pacific Ocean.” She turned and pointed in the opposite direction. “In that direction, it goes very very far. Past the Rocky Mountains, past the prairies filled with so many wheat fields, past the Great Lakes and eventually it ends at the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Can we go to the Atlantic Ocean too Mommy?”
“No sweetheart, it is too far.”
Her daughter was only momentarily disappointed, still a young kid, and too little to understand the enormity of the distance.
She wasn’t surprised, even she had no idea how far it actually was. She’d lived her whole life in this small town, and hadn’t ventured too far away.
Five years passed, and she still walked with her daughter along these tracks whenever she could, though she was usually alone as her daughter now attended school.
She had hoped things would get easier, but they never did. So she continued her walks along these tracks and nursed her dreams that were slowly drifting away like a melting ice flow.
“Mommy, wouldn’t it be fun to climb onto an empty train car like the littlest hobo on TV and explore the country, stop in new towns and meet new people?” Her daughter said one day after they had stopped to watch a long cargo train pass.”
“Yes it would be, but you know we can’t do that.”
“Why not?” said her daughter in a demanding tone. “It would be fun to see new places, travel around like a circus. We never get to go anywhere.”
Her daughter was now a teenager and preferred trips into town with older boys who had cars. She never knew where her daughter was half the time anymore, or got a straight answer when she tried to find out, so each day she walked along the tracks into town alone. Her husband had started drinking and she found her walks seemed to drag out longer and longer as she stopped more often to feel sorry for herself and the life she’d wasted. If only… But it was too late now.
It was summer holidays and her daughter was home and looked bored so she knocked on her bedroom door and said. “Let’s go for a walk into town just you and me, we can stop for coffee.”
“Sure” said her daughter.
They walked alone in silence. The bright sun was at it’s fullest point in the sky, and they stopped in a patch of shade to rest.
“Mom, did you ever want to leave this town?”
“Sure I did.”
“So why didn’t you? Why did you stay in this hole?”
“Well, sometimes things don’t happen the way we’d like them to, and we have to just accept what we’ve got.”
“That’s not going to happen to me. As soon as I graduate, I’m leaving this stupid town.”
Her daughter had moved to Vancouver two years ago. She hardly ever came home. She called every now and then, talked about all the exciting city things she was doing, but she didn’t understand half of what her daughter was talking about.
“Why don’t you catch a bus and come stay with me for ahwile?” her daughter asked.
“No, no, it’s too crowded there for me, too noisy. I’d just get lost! Why don’t you come home for a visit instead?”
Her daughter seemed frustrated by her response. She couldn’t figure out why.
Her daughter was moving again, this time to New Zealand, it seemed she had grown tired of her job on the cruise ship. She couldn’t understand why she kept moving. It seemed like with each move she was sliding further and further away from her. Her daughter had no intentions of coming home it seemed.
Two and a half years ago when she was living in Taiwan her daughter offered to pay for a plane ticket to fly her out for a visit. Taiwan was so far away, she was too scared to make the trip alone. She politely declined and asked her daughter if she was coming home for Christmas this year. She no longer reacted in surprise when her daughter said no.
She put on her coat, grabbed her wallet and walked to town, her usual way along the tracks, stepping out of the way for the train to pass, barely acknowledging the direction it was headed. The snow had long since melted.
Written for World of My Imagination Weekly Blog Hop