The high street in town had taken a beating months ago, but nobody had yet bothered to tidy it up. Many shop fronts were boarded up, whilst others had smashed windows and were empty inside but for shards of glass and shelves hanging sadly from the walls. Dotted amongst the dishevelled buildings were just three businesses open for trade. The first was a large supermarket, minded by two bouncers who sorted the unsavoury looking customers from the sweet, trouble-free ones. The other two shops were off-licenses, who could not afford such burly protection as the supermarket, but had baseball bats stashed close to hand behind the counter.

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A tall, well-dressed woman walks slowly and serenely through a graveyard. She knows where she is going and looks ahead sadly. Her black shoes gather dust from the chalked footpath but she doesn’t notice. She stops in front of a large, black granite headstone. A gold inscription details name, birth date and death date, and a photograph is laid into the stone, identifying the body which lays six feet beneath.
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The first girl to steal education was nineteen years old and bored with herself. She had left her free college with various qualifications, all at excellent grades, but no money. She couldn’t afford the fees for university, since no university bothered to acknowledge the fee guidelines that the government had pointlessly put in place.  Every day she saw rich students emerge from the gates of the university and head to the city centre to waste their parents money on clothes, alcohol and fancy restaurants, and she wasn’t envious of their lifestyle. She hated the way that they moaned about how many books they had to read, and all the essays they had to write, and how they didn’t have time to party as hard as they would like. She would have given anything to have the opportunity to write those essays and read those books, but she couldn’t afford that privilege and never would.

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‘Miss, half the class is missing today,’ a pupil shouted above the hum of chattering teenagers.

‘I realise that,’ Miss replied. ‘But that’s good for all of you because it means I can pay you more attention.’
‘Why do we have to come to school if other kids don’t?’ a mouthy youth in a baseball cap hollered.
‘I assume your parents make you come to school?’ Miss questioned him back.
‘Well you’re lucky. You have sensible parents who want you to get an education. The kids who don’t turn up don’t have such caring parents. You should count yourself lucky.’

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