The Winners 2016 Under 15 Runner-up

We'd only walked about 100 yards before my waterproofs were saturated and a river was gushing off the tip of my nose. Twice my brother had threatened to turn back, and twice I had glared at him.

Closing my eyes, I tried to think back to those evenings in Grandad's lounge. He'd sit in his chair by the fire and bounce me on his knee like a jockey. He'd tell me of how he'd taken a job as a stablelad just to see those majestic animals run, marveling at their speed while thinking 'I combed that mane'.

"Where is this racecourse, anyway?"

I consulted a sodden, scribbled note in my pocket.

"Next left... I think?" I turned the note sideways to make sense of it.

"Can't see owt'."

"It's here."

From behind us came a voice.

"What you doin' round 'ere?" Judging by the brummie tilt to her voice, similar to how Grandad's was, she was local. She abandoned her duties of pegging out washing on a line.

"Lookin' for a racecourse." replied my brother.

"Ain't never been no racecourse round 'ere." She returned to her washing.

There is! How could anyone contemplate that place never existing? It made my Grandad who he was. History is only history until it's forgotten. Then it becomes fantasy.

On the other side of the road was an older man, reading. Looking up at me, I can only imagine what he saw: a face drowned in anger, terror and confusion.

"You'd better come with me."

We followed him, anxiously. I thought what an awful granddaughter I was, unable to do this one thing for Grandad now he was gone.

The man's eyes flashed at the urn in my hand. "Got... business to do?"

"Mmm..."

We took a left turn.

"This is it."

We stood in a large elliptical patch of grass. A children's slide was in the centre, acting as a channel for the raindrops to run down before gathering in a puddle at the bottom. Ink slithered over every surface, initials of long ago lovers shattered by time.

"The racecourse closed over 50 years ago. This was the tribute to the history and memories made there."

"At least it made some little kids happy”, my tactless brother piped up. I glared at him.

"Abysmal," I whispered.

"I know. I spent my childhood here. They kept the track, and the finishing post, until it got vandalised and had to be removed,"

I meandered over to the track, the urn hanging from my arm. Nowhere was special enough for him here. There were no shouting crowds, no aromas of freshly cooked pie- just a mud pit in the right shape. I found my patch and threw his soul up to the sky.

But,on its way down, the strip of sky above changed from a menacing grey to a pale blue. The water on my nose stopped gushing and the only thundering I could hear was of hooves.

Another handful faded away.

The crowd cheered, including the distinctive voice of my Grandad. "C'mon, nearly there! Beautiful! He's gonna do it!"

The last handful flew into the air. In front of my eyes, the ashes morphed into a horse and rider. It galloped away into my newfound blue sky. I murmured "I'm sorry. I tried, Grandad, but it's not perfect."

The blue sky drifted away like a puff of smoke. The cheering was replaced by a man in a Council uniform shouting: "Oy, girl! What yer doin' that there for? Yer dirtyin' the grass! No consideration..."

This place would never be perfect again.


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