Josie and Samuel
by Jennifer McConnel
Josie and Samuel had been the strangest pair to ever grace the old farmhouse. Not only was theirs a friendship of June and November, their relationship transcended even the boundary of species. When Josie was a kitten, the old farmer had found Samuel in the cornfield, torn apart by a coyote. The old dog miraculously healed behind the wood stove in the farm kitchen, due in part to the attention showered on him by Farmer and Missus, but more importantly because Josie decided that he should live.
The farmer and his missus had long suspected cats of possessing occult powers, and Josie was no different in their experience: even as an infant she looked around her with wise, worldly eyes and it wasn’t long before she was involved in all kinds of unprovable mischief. The missus was certain Josie was the culprit who snuck into the dairy and ate the cream before it could set, but there was not one telltale fleck of white on the little beast who sat on the kitchen counter, daintily licking her feet, so the missus couldn’t punish her. She was a tough old soul, like her husband, but she still believed that all Americans were innocent until proven guilty: she applied this belief to man and beast alike.
Because of the skill with which she broke the rules, Josie was already quite the queen of the farmhouse when Samuel arrived. Deciding the old coon dog to be worth her time, Josie spent the months of his convalescence curled up on his shoulder, licking his ear and purring from time to time. The farmer and the missus had never seen anything quite like it, but at the dog was healing and the cream had stopped disappearing, they left the strange pair to their own devices.
Before long, Samuel was healed. Having a happy dog on the farm lightened the hearts of the humans, but Samuel insisted that Josie accompany him on all of his adventures. Quizzically, the farmer watched as Samuel led Josie across the log that sat on the creek and out of their territory to explore the unknown woods. Every night as dusk, the couple would return: Samuel blissfully covered in mud and brambles, Josie somehow immaculate even after a day spent exploring the forest.
Years passed in this manner, and the self assured kitten grew into a sleek, beautiful cat. Samuel had passed his growing age, and the changes in him were reminiscent of moving backwards: his step began to slow and his bark quieted to a whispered squeak. And still Josie and Samuel would not be separated. The night that Josie didn’t come back from the forest, Samuel sat vigil. He whined anxiously all night, looking out in the direction he and the cat had wandered that morning. And when dawn came and there was still no sign of his beloved companion, Samuel laid his head on his paws in defeat.
When Missus came out to milk the cows, she saw Samuel, frozen in place, and her heart almost broke audibly when she realized he hadn’t even flicked his tail in moments. Dropping the milk pail and stool, she crossed the yard to cradle his head and ease his passing, but her actions came too late. Samuel was gone, and Josie never came back. Farmer and Missus mourned, but the farmer secretly though that it was a lucky thing: if either of those animals had to live very long without each other, he thought, gripping his wife close to him, they would have been lost.