I wasn’t one to believe in ghosts. If you asked me a week ago I would have told you that ghost stories are for kids and that ghosts themselves aren’t real. But after what happened yesterday, I’m not so sure.
It was a dismal day. Rain clouds polluted the sky and turned it gray. Then the rain came. Slow at first- a light drizzle, but then it began to rain and pour. From my bedroom window, I saw people with their black umbrellas, all of them in a hurry to get to one place or another. However, for me it was more than just a gloomy day. It was the day that exactly one year ago my mother and I moved from a small beach town where I was born to the big city of Chicago. I remember the conversation my mother and I had when she told me we were moving. However, our definitions of conversation are very different. My definition is that both people share their ideas and compromise. My mother’s, on the other hand, is that she speaks and you nod your head and agree with her. Our conversation went like this:
My mother said, “Hello.”
I was quite surprised when she said this because my mother and I don’t talk a lot. People would say that we don’t have a healthy relationship. However, I like to believe that our relationship is just a quiet one.
My mother said, “There's something I need to talk to you about. I know you like it here, living on the beach. I like it too. The problem is that my job wants me to be stationed in Chicago. I think it will be a good change. We can live in the city and you can make lots of friends. I know it's dissimilar to the the coastal lifestyle we’re used to, but the hustle and bustle of the city is exhilarating! So, what do you think?”
This was one of the times my mother wanted me to nod my head like a bobblehead and agree with her. So when I didn’t agree, she became very single minded and insisted that we go, so I reluctantly agreed. So that's why I’m here on this day in Chicago remembering the day that we moved from my beach town to busy Chicago.
Not like any of this mattered to my mother. She insisted that today we go to her favorite cafe downtown. Since we live in a big city and don’t own a car, it isn’t unusual that we take a taxi. I watched as my mother waved her hand out into the street and pulled one of those yellow cars to a stop. However, the taxi was not like the other ones I had seen. The taxi had no logos, letters, or signs, and it wasn’t advertising a business. It didn’t even have the name of the company on the taxi. It was just a plain yellow car.
I asked my mother, “Why doesn’t this taxi have any letters or numbers on it?” She didn't reply, but just hurried me into the taxi. My mother does not like being questioned.
The inside of the taxi seemed normal with seats the color of my mom's favorite mocha and tinted windows. I slumped down in my seat just in case the other girls from school happened to be riding in their fancy cars and saw me in the taxi. When we moved to Chicago, my mother had promised me that I’d make some friends who would accept me the way I was, but so far that hasn’t happened. I wish I could be like the other girls with their frilly dresses and fancy cars, but I’m not. I’m just the friendless girl who rides in taxis.
About halfway through the ride, the taxi driver looked back at me. He was an older man. He had a white mustache that curled up on both sides and skin that was very pale. He was wearing a coat that looked warmer than mine and a bowler hat that looked as if it was three sizes too small for his head.
He then broke the silence by saying, “You know if there's one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime it is that you should accept who you are and make the most of your situation.”
He glanced back at me as he said this, just as if he could read what was in my head. I looked over my shoulder as if there was another person sitting behind me that he was talking to, but there was none one there. My mother who thought what he had said was a time-wasting, meaningless handful of words then spoke up to try to avoid a sentimental conversation.
She said, “Excuse me, Sir, what taxi company do you work for? I saw no logos on your taxi.”
Then there was silence. My mother tapped her foot impatiently on the bottom of the car. My mother does not like waiting.
After about a minute of silence, the taxi driver replied, “The Old Taxi Company.”
He then pulled over in front of the cafe. My mother and I got out of the car. My mother then paid the taxi driver before hurrying me into the cafe to avoid getting soggy.
I liked going to the cafe. It was decorated like the ideal French cafe with French translations of all the items. On the outside of the cafe, there was a large black sign with bold white letters that says “cafe”. It’s so big you could see it two blocks away. When I entered the Cafe I smelled cinnamon. I heard the noise of people laughing and talking and the sound of the cash register click every time it closes. I always felt relaxed and warm when I went to the cafe. However, as soon as I entered that cafe this time I shivered, but it wasn’t because I was cold. It was because I recognized almost everyone who was eating there. They were the parents of some of my classmates. I figured there probably was a parent coffee that my mother wasn’t invited to. I didn’t want to point this out to my mother or she would go off and talk to them leaving me alone, pretending I had something to do.
I leisurely walked into the cafe trying to distract my mother from noticing the parents of my classmates, even though I knew she would discover them at one time or another. My mother stepped up to the glossy counter and ordered a mocha for herself. Then, before even asking, she ordered me water. The mocha came in a white cup with a swirl design in it. My bland water, on the other hand, came with ice. While sipping her mocha, my mother finally noticed the parents of my classmates. While she went over to say hello, I took a seat at the two person table in the corner of the cafe. I sat there watching my mother talk to all of the other parents. It seemed like she was making friends quicker than I was. She talked and laughed with them, not even thinking about me. I must have dawned on her at some point because after what seemed like hours she hurried me out the door. Her excuse for leaving being that the rain was dying down.
My mother and I ran outside. My mother, not even bothering to put up our umbrella, summoned a taxi. However, this time the taxi looked normal. It was yellow and was advertising a couple of businesses. I recognized the name of the cab company: Trusted Taxi Inc. The company seemed to be the leading taxi company in town. I often would see their taxis when walking home from school. My mother and I got into the car. My mother told him the address of our apartment and he began to drive. This taxi driver was younger, but I couldn't get a good look at his face.
Finally, my mother spoke up, “Have you ever heard of the company The Old Taxi Company? We rode in one of their taxis on the way to the cafe.”
There was a moment of silence. Then the taxi driver began to laugh. He seemed to be laughing at my mother, though it was hard to tell. As far as I could tell he could be laughing at a joke on the radio. However, my mother took this personally. Her hands curled up into tight fists and her face turned a bright red. My mother does not like being laughed at. She then closed her eyes and took a breath.
Then in her calmest voice possible she replied, “Excuse me, Sir, but why are you laughing?”
The taxi driver chuckled.
He replied, “The Old Taxi Company went out of business 50 years ago, but there's a myth that the owner of the company's ghost still drives around in his taxi.”
Then he laughed some more. My mother found the taxi driver to immensely rude, so she kept quiet for the remainder of the ride in hopes that it would help him reach our apartment faster. The taxi driver then became quiet hoping that what he had said hadn’t hurt his chances of getting his tip. I also stayed quiet though the thoughts in my head were loud and clear. I could hear the old taxi driver’s voice ringing in my ears like tiny bells.
“You know if there's one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is that you should accept who you are and make the most of your situation.”
I decided that when I was to get home, I would talk to the girl at school who had recently moved from Florida. Her family lived in the same apartment building as my mother and I. She didn’t own frilly dresses or put her hair in tight curls and seemed more like me. Maybe that was a good thing.