When we got home from basketball practice, brother was there. Standing in the driveway, staring the way he would at the autumn’s cold shadows growing long across the neighbor building’s closed garage doors. 

As soon as you saw him, you started writhing under the seatbelt, straining to struggle out of the oversized puffy jacket. You are going to freeze. “I want him to see,” you mumbled. I finished your sentence in my head: I want him to see this perfect polyester uniform, white stripey socks, shoes tied with careful double-knots.

I put the car in park, you spring out, he turns, brows furrowed with a look and a question that stops you in your tracks: “How can you be small as a mouse but tall as a house?” 

Shivering and silent, you’re stumped. His voice mock-stern, his eyes watching your face read his. He pauses, shifts his weight: “You thinking?” Yes, you promise with a nod. 

The two of you are locked in a stare as he begins the instructions: “Sit down. Grab your knees, that’s it, ball up, get small, smaller now—small as a mouse.” You don’t hesitate. 

“You ready?” Again, your nod is a promise. He picks you up in his large, dry hands and in one clean swift motion sits you on top of mama’s car. He said something I couldn’t hear and that grin was the result and this old picture I forgot we even had, this picture is you—shivering, small as a mouse but taller inside than any house.

Story by Jody Tate 


Alex is three when his dad brings home the Cadillac. His mom is pissed, and for one of the only times Alex can remember, his dad doesn’t care that his mom is pissed. She follows him from the front door to the bedroom after peeking out the window, screeching about how they can’t afford it. He ignores her, and Alex hears a drawer open, before his father reappears.
“Come on kid,” Alex’s dad says, and scoops him up, carrying him out of the house like a football.
He puts him on top of the car, and Alex sees his mom lean out the front door to shout “You better not let my baby fall!”
Alex’s dad backs up and raises the Polaroid camera to point it at Alex. Alex feels the smooth paint under his legs and hands, and looks past the lens to see his dad smiling at him, and behind his dad his mom is smiling, now, too. Alex smiles for the picture, big as anything.
Alex hears the picture print as his dad moves towards him to pick him up and set him into the back seat. Alex watches as he lowers his large frame into the driver’s seat, adjusting the rear view mirror to wink at Alex before winding down the window to look towards his wife.
“Get in, honey. We’re celebrating!”
His mom lets Alex get the chocolate dips ice cream cone, but his dad wouldn’t allow anyone to eat in the Cadillac. Alex recalls sitting on the back, wrapped in his dad’s sweatshirt while his mom was wrapped in his arms.
I love this car. He thought to himself.
Alex is fifteen and a half when his dad dies of a heart attack, sitting in his office chair. For six months the only thing that gets Alex’s mom out of the house is teaching Alex how to drive the Cadillac, the polaroid of Alex staring down at her, clipped to the passenger-side mirror.
The first place they go after he gets his license is the ice cream shop– they eat their chocolate dipped cones, him leaning against the car and his mom sitting on the back, her body still frail from the grief. Alex reaches into the back seat, and snaps a picture of her laughing over her protests.
“Thanks for the car, mom.”
“It was always yours.”

Story by Kelly Sarate

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