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(A short story of 2478 words)

Waiting for Sister Constance

Young Adult Literary

by Jenny Vaughan

This is the story a day in the life of eleven-year-old Sara. Like thousands of other children in southern Africa, she’s an orphan, and she’s looking after her younger brothers and sisters. A kindly nun, Sister Constance, is due to visit the family today – but she’s late, and Sara is getting worried. Will she come? What if she doesn’t? Why hasn’t she come? What will the children do if Sister Constance doesn’t turn up?

It’s still dark.

Sara wants to turn over and go back to sleep, but she can’t because her sister, Agnes, is spread out like a goatskin all over the bed.

What’s woken her? She hears it again, the cock crowing next door. Soon, it’ll be time to get up – but maybe not quite yet, because the cock often crows while it’s still dark.

Sara closes her eyes and tries to sleep, but she’s cold, because Agnes has most of the blanket and, anyway, she wants to pee. Also, she has to admit that it is not so very dark outside, after all. There’s no doubt, morning is coming.

I need more sleep, Sara thinks. I wish the others would go to bed early, so I could, too.

But going to bed is sort of lonely, with no Mama to tuck them up and say goodnight. So they stay up late and play, even though Auntie Next Door (who is not really an auntie) scolds them, and says ‘Be quiet over there!’

But they go on, anyway, until they are too tired to stay up any longer. And then Sara has to sing to everyone so they can go to sleep, and then she has to mend Agnes’s school shirt, because it is falling to bits. So it’s hard to get up in the morning.

On the concrete floor beside the bed, Little Sister moans. Sara sometimes feels bad about Little Sister. She would so like to sleep in the bed, too, and she wouldn’t take up much room. It must be cold and uncomfortable down there. But Little Sister wets the bed, and no one wants to share with her.

Sara sniffs to check if Little Sister’s blankets are wet. No, she can’t smell anything, except the wood-smoke from next door. So it really is time to get up...

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