Why Did the Woman Cross the Road? Three Modern Revisions

by Kate Barss

Why Does the Woman Cross the Road?

Well, she doesn’t know really, and couldn’t have articulated it if anyone were to ask her. But no one does. No one asks her much of anything since Anita left. All she knows is the pavement feels sturdy beneath her feet, the road leads somewhere, and crossing it means she will no longer have to be here, in a house too filled with someone who isn’t coming back.

A Priest, Rabbi and a Duck

The bartender doesn’t initially notice the Priest, Rabbi and duck push through the wooden brown doors and enter her bar. She is gently and mindfully drying pint glasses with a large white cloth, lifting each one to the dim halo of the ceiling light, ensuring the glass is streak free. Sometimes, she lets her thoughts flow to the master’s degree she’d like to complete, the better job she’d like to have, and a life where she wouldn’t spray her clothes with beer every time she changed a keg. But it is wearisome to think of these things and presently she tries to focus solely on the glass she is polishing. When she finally notices the odd trio standing before her, all robes and crucifixes and feathers — her eyebrows begin to raise and she nearly blurts rudely, What is this — some kind of a joke?

But a tipping customer is a tipping customer, and instead she asks what drink they will have. The Priest, chuckling, answers, “Oh, just a small pint to keep the demons away.” The Rabi laughs and the duck gives a quack of pleasure. The bartender smiles politely and pours him a pint, but she doesn’t really think it is funny, not at all.

Knock-knock. Sigh.

Knock-knock, beats the hand at her door. The girl sighs and remains seated on the couch. It is Saturday night, her roommates are out, and she wants only to slurp reheated ramen while watching Buffy battle hell-demons on Netflix. She is alone, but she is not lonely. The knocking continues. Buffy roundhouse kicks a vampire in the chin. Still, the girl does not rise; she simply shifts her weight from one couch cushion to the next. As Buffy is in mid-jump, arm raised, stake poised above the vampire’s chest, the girl pauses the screen and moves towards the kitchen. She is placing her bowl of ramen in the microwave when the knocking starts again. “Who’s there?” she finally calls. But the knocker does not seem to hear her, no reply comes. The microwave beeps hurriedly, and she returns to the couch. Buffy stakes the vampire, his body quickly reduces to dust. The sound of footsteps dissolve down the hallway, away from the girl’s apartment, and the knocking stops. She does not wonder about it again. Doesn’t even think to mention it the next morning when her roommate asks her about her night.

Photo via deeleea/flickr.

Kate Barss is a writer and editor currently living in Toronto, Ontario.