The Winners 2016 Under 12 Runner-up

In a small dark cottage, a silver horse shoe sat upon a dusty mantlepiece beneath the shadow of a memory.

The shoe was born from a furnace flaming wild, beaten to shape by the blacksmith’s hammer. The hard steel was as shiny as a mirror when finished. Before long, the shoe was taken and nailed to the foot of a horse. The shoe shone in the rising sunlight.

The great white horse stood stamping and scraping the ground, his nostrils flaring, his ears pricked, his coat as silver as the lining of the clouds and his mane curled tightly into plaits. The crowd waits with wistful excitement as he and the other horses enter the parade ring. Race cards are studied in search of a winner as the jockeys begin to mount. The tape goes up and they're off up the hill, the shoe clipping the lush green turf and soaring high over the fences.

Under the thundering hooves and the shower of mud, the shoe shines on. Next jump, someone falls. The crowd wails in sympathy, but then stands and cheers as the remaining group pass by.

Determined to reach his goal, the horse plunges his feet into the ground and gallops on. The shoe just shines. The horse is not tired yet and he doesn't give up. His destination draws nearer. Last fence, the horse and the shoe fly high over the jump, taking the lead. The horse stretches his neck while giving one final push with his powerful quarters. He crosses the line ahead of his opponents.

The crowd goes wild, crazy, mad all at once! The jockey punches the air with joy. The owners cry, they're so happy. The trainer is in nearly all the papers and on the television. Everyone enjoys the day. Just one of the many times they had their glory. The shoe shines on.

The auction room is filled with a rustle of excitement. The auctioneer raises his voice above the noisy crowd as the price of the shoe increases. An elderly man raises his catalogue with a final bid and the hammer goes down once more on the shoe that shines like a star.

In the small dark cottage, the old man pokes his smoking fire. He takes a glimpse at the shoe, and at the faded picture next to it of a young man riding the race of his life aboard the horse taking the winning stride. He remembers the wind against his face and the pounding of the horse’s hooves beneath him, the horse’s ears twitching in response to his rider’s voice.

The shoe gleams in the firelight. All that is left, that is, of the memory of the great white horse.