The woman with the clip board entered our sleeping quarters and turned the harsh light on.
'Line up outside,' she said. I had a good feeling that this was going to happen today. Though there was no way we could know when a visitor might arrive.
So we were led out of the building and lined up against a wall in the courtyard. The sun was shining, yet the brick wall was cold. None of us like having to stand against it.
We all had to stand the same, with our arms held at our sides but not touching our bodies. We had to make our backs very straight and at the same time push our hips forward slightly. The girls had to push their whole bodies forward.
I was in this place because my mother had not been able to keep money coming into the house. Father had been seen looking up at the sky with a puzzled expression and was arrested. Mother had had no choice but to send me to this place. I had to get some money for her.
At first people thought these places were bad, especially for us children, but they were arrested. After that people thought these places were good, especially for us children. A voice on the loudspeakers said how children who are able to work should be allowed to work. People who disagreed with the voice were arrested.
When I had come to this place I had been afraid but I grew to like it. The woman with the clipboard and her colleagues had corrected my way of thinking. Now I just hoped that I would be picked by someone.
The woman with the clip board came back over to us, this time with a rich man behind her. I could tell he was a rich man because only the rich people could buy us. The way things went about here was like this: whatever our parents had earned in a year would be given to them in a day if one of us was sold. It was very good. They said it was very good.
'May I see them with their clothes off?' the rich man asked after looking us over briefly.
'Of course,' the woman with the clip board replied and wrote something down.
Our pyjamas parted down the middle so we only had to undo one strap and let them fall to the floor.
'Just the boys I think.'
'Of course. Girls, you may go.'
The girls made their way back to our quarters, all of them with disappointed looks on their faces. They had no chance of being picked with this rich man so it seemed.
The rich man gestured in our direction and said, 'May I?'
The rich man got on his knees in front of each of us independently. We all pushed our hips forward a bit more. He examined us in turn, running his fingers across our lips and stroking our cheeks. He made to examine us lower down but the woman with the clip board intervened and said, 'I'm afraid you need to pay a deposit in advance for a full examination.'
The rich man stood and rubbed his hands together. 'They've all been cleaned?'
He looked over us all one last time quickly. He was clearly ready to pay now. There were only seven boys including myself so I knew my chances were good. I hoped I would get picked.
'Listen,' the rich man started and then said something to the woman with the clip board in a lowered voice. I couldn't hear what he said but he held up some credits and the woman with the clip board nodded and put the credits in her pocket.
For a moment I thought he was going to come over to me. My heart was racing and I tried to suppress a smile from creeping across my face. But unfortunately I had been let down again as he knelt down to the blonde boy next to me. I looked over and could see the boy was as excited as I was.
The rich man kissed him deeply on his lips and the boy let out a giggle. 'I'll take him,' the rich man said, and the boy went into a fit of laughter, clapping his hands.
The woman with the clip board wrote something down and picked up the boys clothes, handing them to the rich man. 'Oh no,' he said, 'Don't worry about those.'
'Would you like a case?'
'No, no. There's plenty of room in the boot of my car.'
And so he picked up the boy and carried him under his arm away from us. Tears of disappointment pricked my eyes.
That boy didn't know how lucky he was.