The Cowgirl’s Husband, by Emma Phillips
She carved a husband out of wood and breathed life into him so that when she took her posse into battle he could slip into her pocket like a talisman, and on days when tough choices must be made, she would not feel so alone.
She made him ears like tiny speakers that she tuned to her voice and dressed him in a suit cut from her father’s handkerchiefs.
Sometimes she wore her saloon best and painted her lips the rich crimson of a dawn sun to be sure that he would see what made her womanly as well as what made her bold. She took him everywhere, placed him strategically, so onlookers would never know she carried him.
He guided her through the first shots of her pistol, taught her how to skin a rabbit, grow maize, protect her crops so that they wouldn’t get eaten by sparrows. Despite his rough edges, she liked her husband’s feel against her skin.
Other men had tried to bend her to their will, but she was stubborn and stuck to her convictions. She did not need his words. Where others cursed her independence or tried to break her spirit, he remained by her side. His love was the brightest, the way the North Star illuminates the sky.
Her husband was her champion. He had always been her muse; from the moment she’d dipped her grubby girlhood fingers into the creek and pulled out a stick. She remembers turning him over in her hands, flush with his possibilities.
Emma Phillips lives in Devon with her husband, son and two Guinea pigs. She began writing flash fiction during the winter 2020 lockdown and has since won 2nd place in the 18th Bath Flash Fiction Competition, 3rd place in the 2022 National Flash Fiction Day Micro fiction Competition and her work has been long listed three times by Reflex Fiction and will appear in the 2022 Best Microfiction Anthology.