Joseph Young


The milk truck was down on its side, headlight broke and spilling weak contents of light on the grass. The side had bruised to metal, with a taillight blinking left in the street. The rear door had come open and hung rather dick-limp free. Spots of eggs scattered along the whole of one block, perioded in bursts of milk, cuts of glass holding sun like ice.

The milkman sat on the hood of the cop’s car, sometimes checking his hands. Broken? he thought, flexing the knuckles and tendons. Except that nothing had happened to them, they’d not gotten any injury. Only over his eye was a smudge of blood where he’d jammed against the passenger widow. That and the ache in his seatbelt shoulder.

His pocket rang. His girlfriend was expecting him home—The Milkman—for lunch. He liked that she liked that and he liked it now, the inseam of his pants against him. But it passed, the phone went dull, and he inspected his hands.

“A kid?” The cop asked.

The milkman scrunched. “What?”

“You said it was a kid?”

“No. I never said that. A dog. A red one.”

They looked up the block, searching the different chunks of grass for signs of a red dog. It had passed in front of him, and he’d hit the brakes, thrown the wheel. It was a red dog, though he couldn’t say why.

“You didn’t say a kid before?”

“No. A dog.”

The cop went to talk to another cop, a lady one. She was cute and redheaded, gray slacks fitted slim in that way around the thighs. She could even be pretty. His girlfriend rang again, but he left it, and she quieted.

It took 2 hours for the tow truck, and then for his boss at the dairy, and then for the boss and the cop to sign the things. The ambulance drove off disheartened—against what his boss said was Policy—but nobody was forcing anybody. His boss, he knew, was mostly so unhappy.

She did drop him off at the office, and they talked in her car.

“My daughter,” she said. “She might come home Thanksgiving. But not before. I think.”

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s how it is.” He wanted to add, especially the pretty ones, but he said, “Especially the serious ones.”

When his phone rang, she said, “Is that your girlfriend, maybe?” He said, “Yeah, that’s her special ring.” She brightened a second, and her eyes were really blue.

Finally, as he was driving toward the beach, he answered and told his girlfriend about it, the eggs being like eyes in the road and the milk and the poor white truck.

“No doctor?” she said.

But no, he wouldn’t let her either. “It’s just my hands is all.”

He hung up then, then texted her sorry, then got out and looked at the water. It was so blue, those birds and their freefalls toward the fish. It smelled like weeds and flies and table salt.

He walked down and took off his shoes and put his toes in the cusp of the foam. When the wave came up, it was nice. It was cool and fresh.
At 533 words, “Galaxy” is the longest story Joseph Young has written in three years. Easter Rabbit, his book of microfictions, will be published by PGP later this year.

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