The Bucket List

Josephine lifts her arthritic knees up the steps of the small Japanese tour bus and stares past the rows of empty seats before she settles her gaze on a middle-aged woman with a curly afro.

When the woman turned and smiles, that is all the invitation Josephine needs. “May I sit,” she asks after she wobbles her wide hips through the tight aisles.

“Of course,” the woman says.

“Thank you. I’m Josephine from Texas.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Keisha from North Carolina.”

“Are you traveling alone?” Josephine asks.

“Yeah, are you?”

“No. My no good husband is at the hotel in bed. He ate some bad sushi or some shit.”

The woman blushes. She must be from the suburbs, Josephine thinks. Suburbanites are always blushing over curse words.

“Are you looking forward to seeing Mt. Fuji?” Josephine asks the girl once the bus starts moving.

“No, I’m getting off at the Aokighara forest.”

“The what?” Josephine asks.

“The suicide forest at the base of Mt. Fuji.”

“I’ve heard about that place. It’s where people go to die.” Josephine shakes her head. “I wonder why so many go there?” Josephine asks. “I suppose they’re all unhappy.”

“They can’t all go there because they’re sad,” Keisha says. “Maybe some are just finished.”

“Finished with what?” Josephine studies the woman. She’s too pretty to be so morbid.

“With life. Maybe they’ve crossed everything off their bucket list.”

“Well, then you create another list. Believe me; I’ve started over more than a few times. You can always reinvent yourself and create a whole ‘nother bucket of lists.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“You’re not thinking about going there to die are you?” Josephine asks suddenly concerned.

Keisha laughs. “Of course not. I’m just curious.

Josephine brings her hand to her chest. “Oh my goodness. You about gave me a heart attack.”

“You don’t have to worry about me. I have a husband and a little girl at home. I would never leave them.”

“Good. Good,” Josephine says as she stares at the woman, looking for any sign of depression.

“I promise. It’s just a weird curiosity of mine. I’m not going to kill myself.

“Well if you’re sure,” Josephine says, finally at ease.


“Ms. Josephine,” the Japanese tour guides says with an almost flawless American accent “We’re here.”

“Oh my. I didn’t even know I was sleep.” Josephine looks over to Keisha, but the woman’s seat is empty except for a folded sheet of paper. Josephine glances around the bus for the woman, but she is nowhere in sight. All of her belongings are gone. Satisfied she has done her due diligence and no one can call her nosy, Josephine unfolds the paper.

Keisha’s Bucket List

Graduate High School

Go Ziplining in Costa Rica

Go To College

Get a passport

Make love under the night sky

Visit Canada

Write a book

Fall in love

Get married

Have a baby

Travel to another country

Visit the suicide forest

All but the last one was marked out.

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