Maria's New Life
Leah, Age 11, Zimbabwe
A broken jetty with no railings and missing boards led to a small island. On that island, there was a shack that nearly got swallowed up each time a big wave came during storms, which was pretty often. In one room there was a chest full of all sorts of jewels: including diamonds the size of jelly beans, golden crowns, rubies and basically any other sort of jewel you can think of. However, many did not know about the jewels.

Many people feared to go there, afraid that they might be swallowed up the waves. On the main island there was a village, but it was on the other side of the island because of legends about the shack. Now and then a villager attempted to go to steal the jewels, but they never came back. It was all a mystery. Many of the people had seen these riches, but from then on, they had never seen anything ever again

In the village, there lived a small girl called Maria who dreamed of having a new life. Maria wanted to leave because she lived in an orphanage where no one loved her. The head of the orphanage said they found her at the step of the orphanage wailing. Once she asked whether she could leave the orphanage but she was severely beaten. She lived in the dreary village, where the sun seemed to never come and darkness seemed to never end. Now and then she asked about this shack. Maria wished that she could take these jewels and start a new life. Living and doing nothing seemed very boring to her, so she decided to go there, but fear grew in her. Although she really did need money to start a new life, the choice was hers.

She decided she had to go. Maria was the only child in her village. She hated it! Maria was going to run away. She managed to find out which way to go to the shack. Maria packed a few belongings and stole some food and set off at. Maria started to feel a craving for food around noon. She saw an enormous tree and settled down and ate a sweet apple and a piece of stale bread. Maria packed up and continued. Luckily she caught a glimpse of a bush with big, ripe, plush berries and ate some. Maria picked many berries before putting them in to her satchel. It was getting dark. Maria saw a tall tree and climbed up to one of the highest branches. She stripped leaves and piled them up to make a bed for the night. After half an hour, she finally fell asleep in the cozy branch.

The next morning, Maria ate some bread with berries and went off. By early afternoon, Maria could smell the sea. She felt a rush of excitement, but her fears came back to her. In ten minutes Maria reached the jetty. She picked some rocks from the shore; they could come in handy, she thought to herself. Maria had to concentrate on not misplacing her feet to get to the small island without falling. When she reached the door, she gently pushed it open. Maria put a rock to keep the door open just in case.

When she stepped in, she felt a rush of cold and fear.
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