Twy-Yice by Liz Churchill


The funny thing about the night I bump into her is that I’ve got some cracking power ballads going on in my head. Proper wind machine stuff. I’m in an eighties music video. I’m in a shoulder-padded dress. I’m in an air-punching, air-grabbing frenzy when suddenly I spin to face a different camera for an epic key change and some high-stakes drumming. 

I’ve just been kicked out of the pub. It was after last orders, so technically, everyone else was kicked out too, but the barmaid (face like a Brutalist ruin) was especially stern with me, leaned in close and said, “Drink up, love. Yeah?” 

I asked in a how-could-you voice, “Have you never been heartbroken?”

“Get out,” she snarled, her leather trousers creaking and flexing with menace. 

I am now pounding the semi-rural roads of my small market town. I am a wronged and vengeful Shire horse. I have been dumped. I have also decided to eat that dump. Figuratively. The giant, steaming dump he did when he said, “Yeah, I’ve had second thoughts. I’m not really sure we’re that compatible, you know?” Well, joke’s on you mate, because I don’t actually ‘know’. Because I thought we were made for each other and I do not relate to what you are saying. Ha ha ha. 

I start to cry. Oh fuck. No. I remind myself that I am an attractive and majestic equine and he is just a little Shetland pony and not even a cute one. He is a stinky, mangy, evil, dreadful Shetland pony. He kicks all the other Shetland ponies for no reason, and he stamps on baby rabbits. He can’t even move very fast. He struggles to get beyond a trot. He is nothing but a shit canterer – and that is a word I made up because it is very close to sounding obscene. He is not like me who gah-lops. I pronounce gallops gah-lops because I am innovative. I am a shimmering, gorgeous, captivating, intoxicating Shire horse. And I am gah-lop-ping and I am neighing, and I am causing awestruck bystanders to whisper, ‘Steady girl, easy there, girl,’ and I am not Black Beauty because I am massively more original, and I have just walked into Celine Dion.


“Oh my God, fuck, shit, merde.” I take her in. 

She is magnificent. She is ethereal. She doesn’t belong here. I mean, what is she actually doing among the faux Tudor houses of Herringsgrove? Is she actually Celine Dion?

“I’m so sorry,” I say. “I thought you were Celine Dion.” 

This is not the right thing to say. She does not speak. Her skin is golden next to a lamppost graffitied with the word ‘Beans’. 


Her eyes are glaring. If she had a tail, it would whip me in the face right now. 

“You are even more beautiful than Celine Dion, though.” I give a dazzling smile. 

It works. She speaks at last. 

“You think?” She touches her face and looks up. 

I look up too. There’s nothing to see. Just a moth bathing in the crackling streetlight; I guess it believes it’s found a star. 

I’m still looking up – it seems like the glamorous thing to do. 

“I bet you can sing better than her, too.”

She says, “I can’t hear you. Look at me when you’re speaking.”

I stand to attention and try not to sob. 

“Oh darling, what is it?” she asks.

I just want to melt into her and absorb her possibly phony, Celine-Dion allure. I want to ride the Titanic with her. I’m flying, debatably-fake, Celine-Dion lady, I’m flying. And I’m crying. Again. I wish she would carry me round in a sling and assure me my heart will go on.

She studies me, pulls me to her and says, “Fuck him.”

“I already did,” I wail.

“No, not literally.”

“Oh, right. Sometimes I get confused.” 

“It’s ok,” she says. She takes my face. “You are a wonderful Shire horse.”

I gasp, “How did you know?”

She puts a finger to her lips.

“You really are Celine Dion, aren’t you?”

“Did I make you think twice? …Did I make you think twy-yice?” she sings, with tremendous vibrato as she walks slowly backwards, disappearing into the shadows. 

Something lands on my head. It is the moth, dead. 

Twice, twy-yice? I think huh, karaoke. Amateur. I shake my head. Celine Dion would never slide her words about so sloppily. Probably just some mad, old bat, I think. And I turn on my hoof and gah-lop away into the night.


Liz Churchill lives in Birmingham, UK. She has words in VirtualZine, Ellipsis Zine, Janus Literary, STORGY and ‘Unmute’ – a Comma Press Ebook anthology. She was long-longlisted for the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize 2020. You can find her on Twitter: @LillabetRose

11 April 2022