“You’ve got to be kidding? That will never happen!” He leaned back in his chair with a self-righteous look on his face, his fat thumbs looped around his belt. I hoped the chair would finally succumb to his weight and collapse beneath him, taking with it his pride and the overconfidence he flaunted at all of us.
“It might, if I told them what happens here.” I said and stood to leave, wondering why I had wasted my breath talking to him. His conscience had been seared years ago.
“Well, I tell you what young lady” he said leaning further back, the wooden chair creaking as he leant into it. I knew how it felt, to be smothered by him. “What you are talking about only happens once in a blue moon. So when the moon turns blue I’ll believe you. Until then, get back to work and don’t bother me again”.
As I opened the door I saw Ella sitting on the floor outside his office. She looked up at me and then looked away. It was the same look I had seen countless times before, even on my own face. “Ella!” he bellowed. The tiny girl who had only been with us for a week started at the sound of his voice and then got up quickly, smoothed her thin dress, and walked slowly into his office. “Close the door you foolish girl.” I heard him shout, and then there was silence. I had seen “Ella’s” arrive at the school so many times. Young girls whose parents couldn’t afford to care for them, who thought they were giving them a future by sending them here.
The school promised the world: we would be fed, cared for and trained and would leave one day with a brighter future. I had seen mothers arriving with their daughters, having walked for miles from the surrounding farms and villages. They were hopeful, as were the girls.
My mother had brought me here on a cold winter’s day four years ago. I was ten. I had four younger siblings and another on the way. My father was a drunk who spent his wages on whisky and beat my mother when she dared ask for money for food. “They’ll take care of you here” she said as we walked up the long drive.
But that was years ago and at this stage I had no future, but I did have hope. I walked down the long hall towards my dorm room, my plans unfolding in my head as I went. I had prayed for some months now, ever since the day my mother came to visit with a baby on her hip and my little sister at her side. “Joy is nearly ten now Hope and will be able to join you next year”. The thought of my sister in this “school” nearly sent me over the edge, but rather than rant I started to pray and to ask God for ideas to save her. Just last week He led me to our redemption through a proverb that I had read.
I sat down at our old wooden table and drew out the writing paper I had taken from his desk while cleaning. It was crisp and white and looked as if it came from the desk of someone with wealth and influence. My hand shook slightly as I copied the writing of the schools governor, a mean old man who took some of the younger girls on holiday with him until he tired of them, brought her back and took another. I wrote the words, “All has been revealed, flee”. I then walked into our little town and mailed the letter.
I had given Mr. Grieve a chance that morning by telling him that I was going to the authorities and would expose what really happened here. He had laughed and said no one would believe a poor girl over a man of his power and that most of the police and the local council were on his payroll.
My letter arrived on Tuesday and he was gone by that afternoon. He didn’t even pack a bag and we found a large stash of money that would allow us to get everything we had been promised.
Sitting under the stars that night I contemplated the proverb God had shown me, “The wicked man flees though no one pursues” and looking up at the moon I wondered if it might very well turn blue.
Proverbs 28:1a (NIV)
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