Orphanages protecting children from abuse and neglect is only a myth. Research shows the rate of sexual and physical abuse is far higher in orphanages than in family settings.
Though Sarah went through so much, her soft nature was such that she clung to a little bit of idealism. She still believed deep down, that there was good in people and that one day her circumstances would improve.
Writing was her escape from the harsh realities of life and Sarah had firm conviction that it would also be her means of physical escape from the life she was living right now.
She knew her work was good enough. Even as a child, Sarah had a way with words. She would spin tales so intricately, that they would appear simple. Only a very perceptive person would notice the underlying details. Effortlessly, she could bring a smile to people’s faces or reduce them to tears. Within seconds she could then make you laugh through those very same tears she had induced.
There were countless short story competitions open, but Sarah had no electronic device to type and submit it through. All her stories were written in old notebooks she found, that other kids discarded at the end of the year.
The only place she had access to technology was in the school library but that was very limited, for short periods of time. For months, she painstakingly typed out her manuscript and after almost a year, she finally managed to type it all out. Determined not to let her efforts go to waste, she spent weeks poring over different places she could submit it to, before finally finding the perfect one. There was just one catch, in order to enter the competition, she needed a recommendation from a qualified English teacher. This meant that she’d have to get over her painful shyness and speak to Mr Moore.
She was one hundred percent sure he’d agree, as he was a really nice person, possibly Sarah’s favourite teacher. He actually took the time to explain concepts nicely and Sarah thirstily lapped up each drop of knowledge like a parched traveller.
While other lessons required hard work to get average marks, Sarah always aced English. There, she was undoubtedly the star pupil.
It took a few weeks, but she finally plucked up the courage to approach him. She went up to him just after school ended and shyly muttered her request to him.
Hurt welled up in her when he barely looked up and just brushed her off, saying, “I’m busy.” The thought of losing her chance filled Sarah with desperation and she practically begged him, “Please, sir. I really need this.”
Whatever little hope she had clung to her entire life, through all the trials she’d been through, began to slowly seep away when Mr Moore shook his head. “I told you, I’m too busy. I’ve no time to waste with trivial stuff like this.” When she didn’t leave, he glanced up, then and looked her up and down, ” I can make an exception though but only if you do me a favour in return.”
Sarah worked hard to keep the horror of her face. She’d heard from the older girls in the orphanage to never trust men and that the only time a man would help you in any way was if you did ‘favours’ for them.
But surely Mr Moore wasn’t like that? That wouldn’t happen to her, especially not in school, right? She was still so young. Sarah stood rooted to the spot for a few moments, second guessing herself. Furtively, she glanced at the door and tried to guess how fast would she have to run, should she need to get out of here.
Mr Moore interrupted her frantic thoughts, “No need to look so horrified, it’s just something simple. You see, Suhail Abad is almost failing english and his creative writing is abysmal so if you just write me one or two essays or reports that I can mark under his name, I’ll write you a glowing recommendation. It’s a win-win deal, don’t you think?”
I stared at him, speechless. I couldn’t.. I would never.. How could I live with myself if I did something like this? But if I didn’t… I could be stuck in this rut for the rest of my life. I needed just one chance, only one, to prove myself. Why did no one want to give it to me? Why on Earth was a teacher trying to cheat on behalf of a student? And the big question, just how much was I prepared to do to get out of this hell hole?