This is outrageous! One minute I’m the moneymaker in our family, the one who supports us, the one who makes the dough, but I come into the factory and the boss wants the wife and kids in here? Outrageous! I’ve lived a life, I’ve seen things, I can afford to waste away in a sweatbox, but what about them? Poor Rich, only 9 but he’s doing so well in school! He always comes home, so proud, so so proud, to show us his latest new word he learned at school. His hands should be writing essays, not making toys!
Then Eleanor. Oh sweet, sweet, Eleanor. I can’t imagine coming home from the factory, and not getting a fresh home cooked meal, or a new shirt. She may have lived a life as I have, but a lady’s place is at the house, not at work! Making pies, fixing shirts, not making toys, and fixing mishaps! She wants to work. She wants to prove to the world, that she’s a part too. Her and her friends (who all have gotten jobs) gather every night to talk about “the future of women” I forbid her to go to those meetings, to no avail. She said I was just like them. All of them. The generators of this system of sexism and stereotypicality. She said she was going to break out. She was going to make her life count.
As I went to collect the eggs from the chicken coup something happened.
One chicken was feeding a baby chick some of the feed.
This of course didn’t make sense. It had hidden the egg from me. It was tired of wasting its talents in an unappreciative coop. I had to do something. It was to powerful an example for the other chickens.
Aboard the Alanine
The Alanine express runs day and night throughout all of Virginia. It ships coal from place to place dropping off some of its load at each stop. Although, sometimes it doesn’t arrive with all of it. “Hey kid what’re you doing up here?” The railway drivers may be nice, but the security guards sure as hell aren’t. “If you’re ever gonna come up here again, it’s gonna cost you!” Extortion and bullying were their strong suits.
Mom doesn’t like me doing this kind of job, but what choice do I have? Mom is like the Alanine, a fuel-less and steaming beast, that works day and night, always ready to dish out smack, our spankings for our troubles.
She yells at the girls when they complain about hunger, but I can see the stress in her eyes and the sadness, at the fact that she serves the rich food, but can’t serve us.
I was woken by Abigail, the youngest one. “Pee-tah there’s a man at the door who wants coal” I was frustrated that she couldn’t do it herself, but a customer’s a customer. We debated over the price for a while, but this weirdo paid in francs, a newbie I guess. My friend wants me to come with him and work at his bosses factory, but I want to use my talents to the fullest, I don’t want to be stuck in a box all day, wasting my time in an uncomfortable space of darkness.
Sitting on the park bench, chatting with Carlos had become tradition “You really should join me man, the coal train is a risky business” but I didn’t want to.
“You should join ME, the coal train gives better pay!” It is a better pay, but there is also the emotional and sleep tax. I yawned. As easy as a workshop is, I will remain a free man.
This is NOT worth it. 2 dollars a WEEK? Come ON! That’s barely enough to buy today’s food! With Ma unemployed and Jerry a long way from money, I’ve got no other choice. Mr C says we’re lucky that such young people like us are able to get jobs in his factory, and everyone who asks for a raise is FIRED. Life at my station is pretty boring. I wish Jerry was here. He’s the funny guy in the family. The big jokester. I can’t space out for long. Back to the drawing board. Well, sewing board. Why is jerry so lucky? He gets to go to school while I sit in my squalor. Mom says it’s because he’s “gifted” dad says it’s because that’s all the budget holds. Whatever.
Is there anything I can do to raise my wage? With all that’s going on at home, extra money would be great. Dad came back from the bar looking stricken. Not again yelled ma. She continued to yell at him again and again. You’ve lost it all again!
Stupid dad. More overtime to work off his debts. Great. Then something occurred to me.I left the workshop during break and ran to school. I had to get jerry. Come I said. Do I need my books? He asked. Sure I replied. Extra money I thought. We walked into the workshop. Is this another? Mr C asked. His cold hard voice cut into my skin. Yep, this is him sir, plus, he’s gonna sell his books! jerry turned to me with the sad look in his eyes. He had realized what was happening. Well then, all take these, you take him to a station and get to work! Said Mr C. I took him, I was carving he was breaking rocks. I showed him how to put it at a certain angle to break. His sad look remained the entire time.
You’re mad at me right? Well, pretend each of these rocks is my head,
then it’ll get a lot easier.
But it never did.