“Unicorn” by Michelle Churchill |Short Story Winner

When Snow was a young horse, she lived in a riding school barn. It was a happy little place; there were always children smiling and laughing, and on good days some of the children brought apples which they would sneak to their favourite horses. Snow loved to watch children from her stall. She never took part in these lessons — she didn’t belong to the school, she belonged to her girl. They were the happiest pair in the world, galloping and jumping together as if they were one creature.

Then one day her girl didn’t come back.

Snow was sent away to a new barn with new horses and new people. Strange people; they seemed happy to be at the barn, although there was no joy in their eyes.

After a time, Snow was brought out from her stall. She walked cautiously as she was led towards a young woman. She looked as nervous as Snow as the two met one another. Snow stood motionless until, after what seemed to be ages, the woman reached out a hand to stroke her nose. Snow watched in amazement as the woman’s eyes that had been clouded with sorrow seemed to lighten, lifting the cloud so joy could find its way in.

Gradually other people would arrive to visit Snow. Sometimes people yelled, but Snow knew they were not really angry just as she knew those who cried were not always sad.  In time, some of her regular visitors would take to the saddle, and she loved these days the best of all. Snow was always careful not to let her excitement show too much lest she startle her friends.

Months turned into years and Snow knew she had found love and loss in this home of hers. One summer day after bidding goodbye to one of her dear friends, Snow returned to her stall and closed her eyes one last time.

It was then that a spirit welcomed her home with a warm hug about the neck.

“You’ve been such a good horse Snow,” the spirit said.

Snow leaned into the embrace, her dark eyes widening in surprise, as on her head was now a great golden horn.

The spirit smiled. “When people live exceptionally good lives, they get tasked to be angels. You’ve been a kind and generous horse all your life, Snow, and now your work as a unicorn begins.”

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As per the author’s wishes, her fee was donated to Spirit Horse, a therapy group which helps many horses, including Tinker, pictured above. To donate to Spirit Horse, click here.

Words © 2018 Michelle Churchill. Image © 2018 Kit Sora.

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