top of page

Better Good

Every few days,

I’m driving past a lit sign on the freeway, 

Memorizing a license plate number. 


I drive with my speakers cranked all the way up.

I twist the dial down and interrupt my singing

To repeat the license plate number aloud. Three times. Four.


I often attach words to the letters on the plates,

Pretending they belong to a strange acronym. 

I taste the shape of the sounds so I won’t forget as quickly.


I try to make them rhyme, to make them clever. 

If English has nothing to offer, I rummage around in my brain

For words in Spanish.


AZL, for azul. Blue.

One plate ended in 666. That’s easy to recall.

No others come to mind.


Once, the freeway sign told me to look for a red sedan with a temporary plate. 

I straightened in my seat, turned down my music, and shut my mouth.

Every shade of maroon, crimson, scarlet drew my gaze.


From a distance, I saw a red sedan parked in the empty expanse beside an offramp. 

Squinting revealed a temporary plate.

My hands numbed on the wheel.


How many red sedans with temporary plates were roaming the streets that day?

How many useless tips had the hotline already received?

What good would another false alarm do?


I decided not to call the police. 


When I awoke the next morning, I knew.

There was only one red sedan with temporary plates in the state of Colorado

And I had driven past it without slowing. 


I think about that car once in a while,

The way it just sat there, isolated and immobile

The way I shook off the chill in my spine and sped away.


I wonder if the kidnapped child was ever found.

©Kaylee Schuler

bottom of page