Josie

Josie Got Hit By A Train

     JOSIE was hit by a train and knew she was dead right away. She was headed home from a Whole Foods with a bucket of Greek Yogurt and a bag of granola. She was in a hurry because Trent was waiting for her, and they were going to binge watch her favorite show. Josie nagged him relentlessly to get this date. He was irritated when she said she was going to Whole Foods first for snack supplies. 

     She could almost hear him thinking, “After all that, she’s going to make me wait.”

     He didn’t say anything, but he did that small, tight smile—his peeved face.

     Josie ran.  She didn’t sprint, just did the little skipping maneuver one does when they’re in a moderate hurry. She could have made it, but she dropped her granola. As soon as she felt the bag slip, her mind ran a series of calculations. It subtracted her need for the granola from the speed of the approaching train. It multiplied her desire to live by the seconds it would take to retrieve the bag and raised this number to the power of the angle of Trent’s small, tight smile.

     All of this took less than a second, but those otherwise insignificant fractions of time equaled the Green Line Train striking Josie’s left shoulder. She hadn’t tried to retrieve the granola, but still only got one foot off the tracks before being launched thirty feet, into the parking lot of a Napa Auto Parts store. One of the wrench monkeys ran out to help her.

     “Oh My God Are You OK?” he screamed, or something like that.

     Josie didn’t move. Why would she? Josie was dead.

     The guy started hyperventilating, chanting, “Oh shit, Oh shit, Oh shit, Oh shit.”

     Josie turned her head to look at him and, realizing she was able to move, she got to her feet.

     “Oh, thank God,” said the wrench monkey.

     Josie just turned and walked home.

     She was covered in yogurt. The bucket exploded on impact. Her left leg was broken in several places. She could still move it, but it did fuck all for supporting her weight. A couple of women stopped her on the sidewalk. They wanted to call an ambulance. Josie pushed them away. The women thought this was rude, and stopped offering to call an ambulance. 

     Josie didn’t need a doctor to tell her what she already knew.

     Trent jumped off the couch at the sight of her but, for the first time since she met him, Trent had nothing to say. Josie waved her hand, like she was shooing a fly. Yogurt flew from her fingertips, splattered over the nearest wall. She dragged her left leg to bed. Trent did come check on her. She heard his footsteps enter the room. There was a second of silence, then he scoffed. A minute later, the front door slammed shut behind him. Josie stared at the wall, not sleeping, until her alarm went off in the morning. She got up, got ready, and left for work. The leg was stiff, but functional. 

     Trent hasn’t called Josie since.

Josie Shat in the Yard

 

The neighbors on either side of Josie had beef. Brenda In Nine took great pride in the little patch of yard in front of her apartment. She grew strawberries. These were guarded be hand painted ceramic gnomes. She hung an offensive number of windchimes over her front door.

Gina In Seven had a yorkie terrier named Pepper. Pepper hated the windchimes. Everyone in the complex could hear Pepper hating the windchimes at all hours of the night. Pepper liked to shit in Brenda’s strawberries.

The tension periodically bubbled over into sidewalk screaming matches, usually right in front of Josie’s living room window. When she was alive, Josie would watch these confrontations like a soap opera. The feud went back to before Josie’s tenancy, to a ten-year-old noise complaint Brenda made against the then puppy Pepper. Brenda was convinced the dog shit was a deliberate, retaliatory act—somehow, she reasoned, Gina In Seven trained the dog to desecrate her flower bed. The shouting matches usually ended with Brenda yelling, “you better hope I never catch that mutt.”

Gina In Seven swore Pepper was not a mutt, he was from a pure bloodline, that she had his AKC papers “in the house.” She also swore she didn’t know how Pepper was getting out of the house at night to shit in the strawberries. 

“It’s probably a racoon or something,” Gina would bellow.

“I know dog shit when I see it,” Brenda would scream.

One morning, Gina found Pepper dead on the sidewalk.

“You finally did it, you crazy bitch!” Gina wailed.

“It was probably a raccoon or something,” Brenda hollered back.

By this time, Josie had been dead a full week. She didn’t know if Brenda killed Pepper. She might have cared, if she was alive, but she wasn’t. Despite her indifference, when the wind chimes kicked up that night and Pepper wasn’t around to bark at them, Josie rose from her bed—where she hadn’t been sleeping—and went outside to shit in Brenda’s strawberries. The next morning, Josie’s alarm clock triggered her to take a shower and get ready for work. Outside, she found Brenda in her PJs and house shoes spraying her flowerbed violently with a garden hose. 

As angry as she’d been about Pepper’s feces, Brenda never said a word about the obviously not dog shit she found in her yard from time to time, usually after particularly windy nights. Eventually, she gave up the strawberries and her gnomes now guard piles of chalk white gravel.

Josie Saved the Cat

The bus was running late. Josie didn’t notice. She didn’t care. The woman waiting with Josie cared though. Every sixty seconds she was saying either “this is bullshit,” or simply “such bullshit.” Josie thought she going to say bullshit again when, instead, she cried out, “Oh my God! It’s a cat!”

 

It was a skinny, grey stray with its hairs up and back arched, stuck between two lanes of intercity highway. Something about the woman’s urgency prompted Josie off the curb and into 50 mph traffic. The Bullshit Lady screamed. Horns blared as Josie closed in on the panicked animal. It hopped, like it knew the only safe direction to flee was straight up into the air. Josie picked it up by its armpits, like a baby. It hooked claws into her neck just as a Toyota Carolla sent her flying into the rear end of a Pontiac Aztec. The cat ran away, and a small crowd formed on the sidewalk. Some college kid in a university sweater ran over and knelt beside her.

 

“Don’t move!” he screamed, obscenely loud with how quiet the morning had suddenly become. “You might have a head injury!”

 

Over his shoulder, Josie saw her bus pull over to the curb. She pushed away her would-be savior and hobbled onto the number 8. The accident hadn’t spilled over into the bus lane, so the 8 made its way to downtown unimpeded, pulling away from the bus stop just as an ambulance screamed onto the scene.

 

Josie hurt, but not bad. She’d had migraines worse. She wondered if this kind of resilience could be considered a super power, and if she should volunteer with her local fire department. She looked herself over, inspecting the damage. Her left foot was backward. She spent the rest of her commute wiggling her ankle back into position.