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CHOO CHOO!

Josey's head popped up as the train came to a noisy stop. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she looked around at the empty compartment she called home. All she had were the clothes she was wearing and an extra sweatshirt. Josey looked around the gloomy compartment thinking that it suited her mood. She irritably adjusted the sweatshirt she was laying on and rolled over to see if she could sleep for a few more hours without being found.

Josey had lived all over-a park in Tennessee, an abandoned shed in Virginia, and she was now passing a “Welcome to Pennsylvania!” sign aboard a train carrying cargo.

When Josey woke up two hours later, she was scared and disoriented. It was getting hard for her to keep track of where she was after two years of almost constant movement. Josey hadn't always been homeless. She'd lived in a nice house with her aunt and uncle until she ran away at the age of twelve. Now, at fourteen years old, she was hundreds of miles from Georgia and all alone, not knowing what to do next.

“It's time to get off of this thing,” Josey said to herself. “Stupid train. It's uncomfortable, dirty, and quite frankly, it sme-” but she was cut off.

“Who's that?” someone shouted. “Hey, you're not supposed to be here!” said a large, balding man. Josey's eyes widened as the fat man lunged at her, but was able to dodge him and sprint off the train, her heart pounding the whole time. She was not about to be caught, not after coming this far.

Josey looked up at the trees, now in full bloom. She could smell the fragrance of the flowers in the air, and she sneezed. She stopped under a tree to catch her breath when a bright pink flower landed on her head.

“Ugh, I hate spring!” she yelled at no one. “Stupid allergies, making me sneeze all the time. And all those bugs! This season makes me angry. Dang flowers...” she said. She continued to rant and kept walking aimlessly. When she stopped her mini tirade and looked up, she was in the middle of a cornfield. Josey looked up at the now-dark sky and screamed in frustration.

“Why does this keep happening? I just need some sleep,” he stomach growled. “And food. I just...” she trailed off as her head started spinning. Everything went dark as her head hit the cold, hard ground.
***

“Hey Helena! You'll never guess what I found when I was picking corn this morning!”

“Gary, if you brought home one more snake, I'm going to hang you from the clothes line! You know Elise is terrified, and, quite frankly, it's immature!”

“Will you let me talk for five seconds? It's not a snake, it's a dirty little girl! She was just laying on the ground, not moving. So I brought her home. Where do you want me to put her?”

“Gary! Is she alive? Did you check her pulse? Is she breathing?”

“Oh...I didn't think of that...I guess I'll tee-”

“AHHHHH!” Josey screamed.

“AHHHHH!” the old man called Gary replied. “What're you shouting for?”

“Who ARE you?” Josey yelled.

“Gary, you've gone and scared her! Get out of here, go get Elise! Go!”

The old man left the room grumbling to himself about “dirty children” and grumpy old women”.

Meanwhile, Josey was on alert and terrified. She had no idea what was going on and was not used to not being in control. As crazy as the last two years had been, Josey had been in charge and controlled every situation that had been thrown at her. Josey had known what was going on and had taken care of herself. The past two years had been all about Josey, and she was not about to let that slip away.

“I'm going. Where's the door?” Josey demanded.

“Sweety, you can't go anywhere looking like that. Look at the state you're in. What's your name, dear? Where do you live? Gary and I can help you get home.”

“I'm not telling you anything! I want to get out of here!”

“Ok, well, at least have a shower and get some food. I'll have my granddaughter, Elise, fix something for you.

The prospect of food was too much; Josey caved.

One thing led to another, and, next thing she knew, Josey was living on the farm with Gary and Helena and their granddaughter, Elise.

She had never expected to have a home again, but she was happy in the old farm house. As strange as it was, she seemed to finally fit in somewhere. Josey started her live with the eccentric Underwoods, a family who kept their pet goat inside and had a doggy door for their chickens, that day.
***
Four Years Later

“Elise, wake up! It's time to go milk Cynthia and collect the eggs from Claire, Ally, Manny, and Emma!” Josey shouted.

“Five more minutes!” she said predictably.

“Fine, I'll go do it! I just gotta walk Dustin first.” Dust was the family goat, her family's goat.

Living with the Underwoods had taken some getting used to. After the initial shock and fear had worn off-and her natural defensiveness had been overcome-she had realized that she like living with a real family. Sweet, white-haired Helena had been nothing but nice to her. Gary, dry and sarcastic, was always making her laugh. And Elise had become something like a sister to her. In turn, Josey had opened up to them. Now, at eighteen years old, she finally felt as though she fit in somewhere.

Josey walked downstairs and grabbed a banana for herself for breakfast, forgetting to feed poor Dustin.

“Dustin!” she called. “Time for your walk!”

Gary, who had grown more and more eccentric in his old age, had made a collar and leash for the goat. Josey grabbed his leash and walked outside to the porch. Dustin, who was in one of his “moods” due to not being fed, baahed irritably.

“Be quiet, Dustin.” Josey said, not realizing that she had not fed him.

“BAAH-AAH-AAAH!” he bleated in reply, more loudly than before. When Josey ignored him, he felt his blood start to boil as an uncontrollable rage came over him. He grabbed the back of her jeans with his little goat teeth and pulled.

RIIIIP.

“DUSTIN!” Josey screamed. “How could you? I'm going to get you, you stupid kid!

The angry little goat gave a wild baah as he charged the enrage, pants-less girl. Josey's eyes
widened as she saw the horns coming directly towards her.

An epic fight of goat versus girl ensued. Who would win? What would end the fight on the porch of the old farm house? Would Dustin ever get his breakfast? We may never know...





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