‘Buying A House Ahead Of The Apocalypse’ by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

Buying A House Ahead Of The Apocalypse by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, 2021

The magic trick:

Using a checklist format to tell the story of exhausting responsibilities and pressures

Another great story from Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. Yesterday’s feature, “Virginia Is Not Your Home,” told its tale with second-person narration.

“Buying A House” ups the ante on that by telling its story in the second person but as a to-do list. We even get little unchecked tick boxes to the left of each paragraph.

A little too gimmicky for your tastes? Well, get over it. There’s a method to the madness here. The story is about the way life has a tendency – at least for some people – to devolve into a series of pressures and assignments. And what’s at stake? Everything. This is not a “mow the grass this afternoon, return that library book” to-do list. This is a list where it feels like there is no support system left, and every single life choice and responsibility falls on your shoulders. This is a list where it’s hard to imagine looking after your needs is showing up on anyone else’s to-do for the day.

So, far from mere gimmick, the checklist format suits the content perfectly.

And that’s quite a trick on Johnson’s part.

The selection:

[ ] Find a house on a hill, with a wide drainage ditch, set safely back from the road. Look for leaks in the unfinished basement. Look for a master bedroom that floods with light. Look for wide windows that butterfly open onto a clear view of the driveway. Picture yourself framed by the plate glass, a doomed goddess in yoga pants, a faux-fur vest, and Birkenstock sandals. A shotgun’s smooth stock balanced on your shoulder, angled out to shoo a gang of hungry men past your property line.

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