Fiction — March 31, 2015 11:21 — 1 Comment

The Boy in the Car (11th Avenue, Seattle) – Jeff Bender

There is a boy in the car. A metal stairway bends the side mirror as the mom backs out of an alley. The mom doesn’t notice the mirror, and the boy in the back watches. The sun bleaches his shirt as they follow a down telephone pole into the intersection.

“Will you marry me?”

“I’m pregnant.”


Girls pass in front of the car and a there is a gnome and a sign for the Dodos and a truck wheeling out the King of Beers. Grooming is everywhere. The police are on bikes.

At 12th Avenue the mom stops at a light. A fat man behind a glass door leans over a pair of handcuffs until the word please marks his forehead. A car accelerates in the direction of a This Way sign. The mom turns the other way.

At Pike Street a man stands outside a salon chewing gum, and there is gum burned into the street, and the boy, in his head, calls the man Gum Beard, and as he thinks it, the man looks at him.

A phone pole has no staples and no signs.

Another has a poster for GLAM: The Exhibit.

A family cross-walks in front of the car. The dad is lost. There is a spot of sunscreen on the girl’s jaw. Seeing this, the boy tries to guess what day it is based on the Fourth of July. It’s July 13.

Two girls walk by the open window of the car and the boy can smell them. One sees the boy. She pops a bubble at him.

“Every Converse has a blue star.”

“I know, I hate it.”

“I love it.”

“Me too.”

The car turns onto 11th Avenue. The boy looks back at the girl with the bubble but the girl is gone, but she’s close. He takes his seatbelt off to look the other way, and the car pulls in to the parking lot of a bank.


Jeff Bender is a writer living in Bellingham, Washington. He's a graduate of Columbia University's School of the Arts and is working on his first novel. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, The Iowa Review, CityArts, The Awl, The Monarch Review, Okey-Panky, and elsewhere. This piece, "The Boy in the Car (11th Avenue, Seattle)," is the result of a prompt led by Emily Bedard during the Scribes summer intensive program at Richard Hugo House.

One Comment

  1. R Knox says:

    I’m reminded of BD’s Three Angels-“the whole world in progression seems to pass by.”

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

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