We were struggling and even I knew that.
I lived with Ma and Pa in our tiny house. Ma always worked so hard and Pa was always spending the money on drink.
But one morning all that changed.
Ma got my eight year old sister Aggie and me out of bed at five am.
She washed and dressed us in our Sunday best, then hurried us off down to a place I had never been before and knocked on the door of a big building.
A lady in an apron and cap answered and Ma gave her our names, kissed us on the forehead and hurried us inside.
The door slammed shut – and that was the last time I saw Ma.
The lady took us to a small room with a big tub, where we were washed a second time, but unlike Ma, this lady was rough.
Then she gave us brown dresses, white aprons and caps just like hers.
When we were dressed another lady came to take Aggie to the aged six to tens dorm. She was crying and I wanted to too but I had to be the strong one.
Then the lady brought me to the aged eleven to fifteen dorm. It was full of girls looking poorly or sad.
I was given a bed next to a girl called Mary. She was nice and said she liked my name ‘Harriet’ but all I could think of was Aggie and Ma.
That night, sleep was hard.
I woke tired, we had gruel in the morning then lessons, chores and stew in the evenings.
I never really saw Aggie.
But I’d made a plan that one day we would escape this place, find Ma and live happily together again.
It wasn’t until two weeks later that I got the news that Aggie had got scarlet fever and died.
I felt like all was lost, I never wanted to do anything.
The days went on and on, my life felt like it was just lessons and chores.
Then I met a special nurse, her name was Kitty. She said that she had met my sister Aggie and that she was a very nice girl. Kitty was the one that helped me get through it.
Things are starting to get better here at the foundling hospital and I have made some friends.
I am the brightest at lessons and I now write a diary so that I can remember everything that happened to me.
Sometimes I wonder, does Ma remember me?
Does she know that Aggie has died?
Does she want me back?
All I know now is that one day I’ll find out.
That all happened twenty years ago. After a while i did manage to get out of the foundling hospital.
I spent ages searching for Ma and Pa, turns out they had moved houses soon after giving us away.
But after months, I was in luck. I saw someone walking to a small shop.
As I got closer I could see her brown hair and brown eyes. She looked familiar in some ways.
When I called out to her she turned around and ran to me, the tears were spilling down her cheeks.
We went into that small shop and talked over scones and tea.
So I am finally reunited with Ma and things have moved on.
Turns out she didn’t ever want to give us to that foundling hospital but it was for our own safety.
We were so poor then that we could have been put out on the streets. Pa’s drinking was getting worse and he was getting aggressive. He died of the drink soon after that.
We try not to think about dear Aggie, we are living in Mas own little cottage now and are no longer struggling.
I am happy now and so is Ma and we look forward to a brighter future ahead.
Name: Ava Culleton