A teenager with a learner's permit drives his father to the emergency room. The father is hemorrhaging from the nose--the result of blood that is too thin and a punch thrown by his son. The father is abusive, especially when he drinks. Feeling endangered when his father shoves him, the boy retaliates by hitting the man in the face.

The father has valvular heart disease caused by a bout of rheumatic fever. He also has a cardiac arrhythmia requiring treatment with anticoagulation, but the dose of blood thinning medication must frequently be adjusted. After a frenetic ride, they arrive at the hospital and the father immediately enters the emergency room. The boy remains in the car listening to the radio and hoping the noise will somehow expunge the ugly words and perilous sentiment in his head. He discovers too late that a bloody nose can kill a man.


I didn't know you could die from a bleeding nose (28). This opening sentence might just as easily serve as the closing line of a story where everything and everyone teeters on the brink of exploding. This brawny tale tackles the complexity of the father-son relationship, the difficulty of growing up, attitudes about masculinity, and a medical catastrophe.

The teenage narrator learns many lessons in the span of a few pages including the lure and limitation of power. Symbols of power in the story include the car, the father, disease, blood, and adolescence. The boy soon becomes aware of the disturbing brute force within himself. He also comes to realize that "Nothing is effortless" (32). Readers should consider who or what truly deserves blame for the father's death.

Primary Source

A Short Journey by Car


Vehicule Press

Place Published

Quebec, Canada



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