"The License Plate Game" starts out as a simple tale of a young girl's vacation with her mother and best friend, which started out great fun but somehow turned sour:
The drive home is interminable. You've listened to the good CDs too much, and what was delightful has become boring, and your Mad Libs are marked up, and you're surprised you ever thought them funny. Jillian looks out the window, bored with you, and you know on the first day of school she's going to turn away from you with that superior look and whisper to Margaret Lanhelm, and they'll laugh as if everything was a joke that you've no hope of understanding.This first part of the story strikes a universal chord, underscored by Henderson's choice to write the piece in second person.
The fantastic element comes in late in the tale, and Henderson keeps it vague just what's happening. The focus of this story is on the kind of everyday resentments that might lead someone to make the sort of terrible choice demanded in a fantasy story. "The License Plate Game" is a nicely written, thought-provoking piece.