At first, the men didn’t understand. Sometimes the change would happen at midnight, and other times it’d sweep through at midday. They’d wake to a bed frozen over, or they’d frown upon entering the kitchen, finding lunch absent from the table. Within the house, at least one television would have a 24-hour news cycle left on low volume. The men realized their wife/girlfriend/sister/mother/daughter was missing when the primal yelling sirened from afar, its frequency quaking the windowpanes. For hours, it felt, the screeching and shrieking would swell, rise toward the clouds, and thicken the air like equatorial humidity. Just as sudden, it would quiet enough to hear a blowfly buzz. The summer the women became horses, the men assumed the neighing and hoofbeats following the aural deluge was within the scope of what they usually controlled: a holiday parade unmentioned in the weekly paper or the county fair setting up months early.
Of what the men thought, the horse-women didn’t care. From the forest’s blessings, no longer could they be accused of nagging when they asked for sweaty socks to be placed in the hamper. No longer could they be denied promotions, denied paid leave, denied a choice. Every yard in town sluiced with mud from their joyful leaps and building-block teeth, indulging in grass, flowers, and crops alike. They had vice-like bites for trespassing appendages. They had shoes of steel for kicking doses of sense. Whole days they could laze in the sun, munching wild strawberries and dandelions. If desired, they could nurture their foal into horsehood, in community with horse-women who understood. If desired, they could leap over the fenceposts and walls and highways to stomp-dance in clover-filled clearings until memory fell away.
Lauren Kardos (she/her) writes from Washington, DC, but she’s still breaking up with her hometown in Western Pennsylvania. The Molotov Cocktail, Rejection Letters, Fatal Flaw, (mac)ro(mic), Best Microfiction 2022, and The Lumiere Review are just a few of the fine publications that feature her work. You can find her on Twitter @lkardos.