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What is in the attic?

When I was eight years old, I had no idea that I was good at anything. I was reserved and disruptive and didn’t really enjoy school. I wanted to be outside climbing trees and playing football. Then, at school one day, that all changed. We’d been given a homework assignment as part of our English studies. We were asked to write a scary story. I can’t remember now how my story went, but I remember the title – it was called ‘What is in the attic?’ When I handed in my story the next day the teacher wanted to know where I had copied it from.

“Did you read it in a book?” she asked.
“No Miss.” I replied.
“Did you see it in a film or on TV?”
“No Miss.”
“Did someone tell you what to write?”
“No Miss, honest!”
“Well I’d like you to go see the headmaster.” she concluded.

I was scared stiff. I was a boisterous kid to say the least and was often in trouble and often sent to the headmaster. I thought I was in big trouble this time for sure.

“Did you write this story Tony?” the headmaster asked.
I didn’t answer, certain that whatever I said would result in a roasting, and probably the cane too.
“I’m going to ask you again. Please answer me truthfully. I promise you two things. First, I promise that you won’t be in trouble. Second, I promise to believe whatever you say.”

He paused. He looked me in the eye. I remember it as clear as day.

“Did you write this story, or did you copy it from somewhere?” He asked.

“I wrote it.” I replied. “I promise I did.”

The headmaster looked at me for a long time. And then, he smiled.

“This is a brilliant story Tony. You’re a very good writer. I’d like to help you to be even better. Would you like to do some extra writing classes with me at lunchtimes?”

And so I did.

Almost every lunchtime for the next school term I met with the headmaster to do some writing practice. He gave me a book (The First Aid in English) and set me homework to complete in the evening. Writing study consumed me. Each lunchtime and each evening I spent my time reading and writing. I fell in love with language and the magic that can be achieved using words.

I was eight years old, and finally, I was good at something.
It felt good.

Thank you Mr Hodgetts.