Sitting in the Car Waiting

Ice crystals on a car mirror

for someone who’s been delayed
on a cold, gray, rainy day
takes me back
to that little girl waiting 
in the cold car with the littler ones
as the night took over the sky
while her parents drank
in the brightly lit warm bar.
Each time the door opened
to let someone in or out –
the hope was always that this time
it would be them – the light
and music taunted in the cold dark.
Swarming over each other like puppies
for warmth, the little ones falling
asleep finally, only that seven/eight/nine-year-old girl,
who was me,
sitting up, keeping watch,
afraid some bad man would find the car,
afraid that this was the time
they would forget us
altogether, instead of just for hours,
knowing that might not be as bad
as it could get
when they were drinking,
knowing all alone in this cold car
might be as safe as it gets.

Linda Rodriguez’s newest book, Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, is based on her popular workshop. Her Skeet Bannion mystery novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart’s Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as the St. Martin’s Press / Malice Domestic Best First Novel.