What Was Left Behind

Epiphany Ferrell


When Crystal married JB, against her own good sense, her horse was a giant – 17 hands in horse-people speak, 6 feet tall at the shoulder in people speak. Robey’s coat was the color of sun-through-honey, and his hooves thundered the pavement when Crystal rode down the street. She could face down a tiger, riding Robey.

JB bought her a small, used car, reliable, easy to lose in a parking lot. He insisted she drive instead of ride. “Wear your glasses,” he told her, by which he meant old ones, before the contacts, the heavy-framed spectacles that gave her fish eyes.

When she visited Robey, he was smaller. More like a regular saddle horse than the giant he’d been.

Living with JB was living underwater. Robey was her island. Her life was the far shore. “I love you,” JB would say. “I need you. I need you to do as I say. It’s not just words.” Marriage with JB was being owned.

Crystal visited Robey. He was short enough now for her to throw a leg over, to mount from the ground.

JB slashed her tires. No riding Robey. No driving. No going away or anywhere at all.

Robey was a pony. Small and shaggy and sad.

JB slapped her face, demanded Crystal acknowledge what she made him do.

“Why do you make me so angry? Is it clear to you that’s a mistake?”

“Crystal clear,” Crystal said.

Robey was a tiny horse, with delicate hooves and a whinny like a bleat.

“We don’t have room for a horse, I’ll sell him,” JB said. And he duct-taped a For Sale sign on Robey and paraded him up and down the street. Crystal’s neighbor, the one who never waved, said she would buy the elfish horse, and she put Robey – now named Buttons – in the backyard with the swing-set and playhouse.

“This is the way it should be,” JB said. “The way it has always been between men and women. I’m in charge.”

Crystal stood under the moon while JB slept. She murmured words even she didn’t know. This is how it has always been with some women, the way it should be.

Down the block, a horse grown gigantic unfurled golden-feathered wings, leaped a swing-set, crashed through a fence, thundered down the street. Maybe lightning crashed. Maybe blood was shed.

In the morning, the neighbors talked about Crystal’s absence, and Instagrammed pictures from JB’s yard — two hoof prints, big as dinner plates.




Epiphany Ferrell lives on the edge of the Shawnee Forest in Southern Illinois. Her stories appear in more than 60 journals and anthologies, including The Sirens Call, Pulp Literature, Best Microfictions, Best Small Fictions, and other places. She is a two-time Pushcart nominee, and a past recipient of the Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction Prize. She’s on Facebook and Twitter, and at epiphanyferrell.com