When your cab journey gets very serious, very quickly

“But that sounds nice! No?” I asked, holding onto the handrail as the cab turned a corner.

I couldn’t see much of the driver’s face. One of the small glass windows was slid open, and through it, I looked at his eyes in the rearview mirror.

He glanced at me and shook his head.

“Nah,” he said, in his South London accent. “It’s pathetic.”

(Want to hear me read this story to you? Click HERE!)

I was going from the supermarket to work at the radio station in London. It was only a short tube ride, but I had four bags of food and didn’t want to be carrying them in the evening rush hour, so I’d hailed a black cab.

As we peeled through the dark streets, I’d started asking the driver about himself. He’d grown up in London, but been born in Jamaica. When he and his brothers were babies, his mum had given them to his Auntie, who lived in London, so she could bring them up.

And now, he explained, his mum was back in contact, and wanted to spend time with him.

He carried on, “She’s calling me all the time. She thinks she can just come right back into my life, as if nothing happened. She fucking left me.”

We arrived at Leicester Square, where my work was, and he turned off the meter. I didn’t want to get out and go in the middle of this. I wasn’t in a hurry. I undid my seatbelt, and sat forward on the giant back seat.

Gently, I asked, “What’s your name?”
“Steve.”
“Hi Steve, I’m Marsha.”
“Nice to meet you.”

“Steve, the thing is, you have no idea what was happening with your mum when she gave you up. D’you have kids?”

“No…”

“I think, for those of us who don’t, it’s so hard to understand what that love feels like-“

“But exactly! If she loved me that much, why’d she get rid of me? Nah…”

I paused. “I bet giving you up was painful in ways you or I can’t even begin to imagine. But I bet she did it because she loves you. And now she has the chance to be back in your life again – of course she’s going to take it.”

He stared straight ahead. I looked out, into the dark street. A stream of people were hurrying by. Behind us, a man laughed.

Eventually, he spoke again.

“That’s what she says.”

“What?”

“She says she gave us up because she loves us.”

I shrugged. “Maybe she means it.”

He kept staring straight ahead. I went on,

“I totally get that this is so hard and so painful. But this is something you have to come to peace with while she’s still alive. If you stay this angry with her, then if she dies, you’re going to be carrying this around for the rest of your life.”

He tilted his head, smiled and shrugged.

“Maybe.”

“Do you promise me you’ll think about it?”

He turned around and smiled. “Ok.”

“I’d…” I wanted to stay in touch. I didn’t want to give him my phone number, because… it’s not good to give strangers your phone number, even after conversations like this. Also, I didn’t want him to think I was after something romantic. But I did desperately want to find out what happened.

“I better go.” I looked up at the meter, grabbed the money from my wallet to pay him. As he was getting my change, I started picking up my bags and getting out of the car.

I stopped and leaned back into the cab. “Do you have an email address?”

This was 2004, so it wasn’t a given.

He laughed, “I don’t!”

I got out, and peered into the front passenger seat window, across from him. He looked back. We held each others gaze and smiled. That long, strong look you give each other, when you know you both shared something.

“Take care,” I said,

“You too.”

I grinned back. “See you!”

Back on the street, I walked up to the door of my building, and hit the buzzer.

 

Thank you very much for reading. This story was part of the Advent(ish) Calendar of Stories: where, every day in December, I emailed out a different short, true story.

If you know anyone else who’d enjoy this story, you can share it with them using one of the round buttons, below.

You RULE!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

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4 Comments

  • Nicole

    Reply Reply December 23, 2016

    Marsha, you are a great story teller, and today you left us at the climax. I want to know more. What happened? Did he accept his mom, or did he walk away? Surely you have some form of contact; righ?

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Reply Reply December 23, 2016

      Nicole, what lovely words!

      And the climax is the end – I don’t know what happened! Hopefully I planted some form of seed….

      xxyyM

  • Gwen

    Reply Reply January 7, 2017

    Thanks for listening to his story. And gently encouraging him to reconnect with his mother. It is much more difficult to give up your child to a better life in a safe place than to selfishly hold onto to them in a unpredictable environment.

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