This Story Has A Good Ending

| Learning | July 12, 2017

(Our ESL teacher makes us write a short story while showing us examples from previous years. The teacher is so impressed with mine he wants it to be an example to future students. I like to write stories on my own but have never published before. This gives me the courage to do it and I post my stories online, including this one, and continue to write more. My online profile has only my gender, and I’ve never given any other identifying personal information about me. The next year my ESL teacher comes to me.)

ESL Teacher: “I am very disappointed in you.”

Me: “What did I do?”

ESL Teacher: “Your story from last year.”

Me: “Yes?”

ESL Teacher: “I showed it to my new class. The next week a student showed me where she found the story online! You didn’t write it!! You plagiarised!”

Me: “Oh. Actually, that is me. I’m [Pen-Name]. Did you notice when it was posted?”

ESL Teacher: “How could you copy someone else?”

(I don’t pay attention to everything he is saying because I panic and can’t speak well. Eventually…)

ESL Teacher: “There’s no explanation for this. You can’t even remember who wrote the story you copied? You and I are going to the office now to see the principal.”

Me: *calmly now* “Okay. Then she can clear this up.”

ESL Teacher: “You think? Plagiarism is serious. A fictional story still counts as plagiarism.”

(I tune out everything he says until we get to the office.)

ESL Teacher: “I have a student who plagiarised a short story last year. A student this year showed me where she found it online.”

Me: “It is online because I put it there. Check the dates.”

Principal: “Website?”

ESL Teacher: *hands paper*

Principal: “When did she hand it in in class?”

ESL Teacher: “First semester last year. Perhaps week four to five.”

Principal: “The date of this posting is February this year, a few months after that.”

ESL Teacher: “What do you mean?”

Principal: “It got posted online after it was handed in. No, she couldn’t have copied from here.”

Me: “Exactly.”

ESL Teacher: “How do you know it wasn’t posted earlier, taken down, and reposted?”

Principal: “Okay. Log in.”

(I did.)

Principal: “Well, unless she hacked someone’s password, it’s her account. She posted her own story. No plagiarism as far as I can tell.”

ESL Teacher: “Okay. I suppose it’s a misunderstanding. That’s really rare. Usually it’s plagiarism.”

(The teacher still gives me funny looks. I don’t know if he continued to show my story as an example, though.)

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