The Factory Girls – Episode 04

“Morning, Danni.”Dana shook her head to clear the errant thoughts away and smiled at her middle brother.“You’re up early, Sean.”“Yep. Got a bit of trouble with a clutch. Have to get to Manchester to pick up a part.”He was in his leathers, she saw (at least they never needed washing), so he must be going to take his bike.“Go carefully, eh?” “I always do,” he replied, dropping a kiss on the top of her head.Time was ticking on.“Best get to work.”“Why bother? I keep telling you, come and work for us. It’d be so much easier.”Dana forced a smile.“I have enough of you lot at home, thank you very much!”They all lived in the flat above the business and her brothers were always trying to get her to be their receptionist. But much as she loved them, she wanted to forge her own path in life. Dana swallowed guiltily. If her brothers found it strange that she wanted to work at Cardill’s, what on earth would they say if they knew what she was really trying to achieve?She grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl (the last one, she’d have to stock up on the way home) and made for her own bike a pedal one. She wheeled it across the busy yard, then paused to look back. Ollie’s curtains were open and she could see him dancing around to his beloved iPod as he got ready for the day. Sean was opening the big garage doors to release his Kawasaki and, by the looks of the steam coming out of the bathroom window, Pat was in the shower. Dana felt a rush of love for them all. They might joke that she was the only girl for them, but they were definitely the only men for her. Living over the garage hadn’t made her the most girlie of girls, and she sometimes spoke rather more bluntly than most. But so what? Life hadn’t been easy these last five years since Mum and Dad had been snatched from them, but they’d made it work all the same. Dana knew she wasn’t the most popular girl in Deveroe, but she loved the garage, she loved her brothers and she loved the town. She just had itchy feet, that was all. Perhaps she should take a holiday? Or perhaps she should just finish her degree . . .Degree. Dana leaped on her bike as if she could outrun the tricky word. She’d only taken the first module as a way of proving she wasn’t just a girl who had ducked out of school with no ambition. But she’d done well too well, in one way. It had given her hope, and now she was less than a year off finishing her accountancy qualification. She pedalled harder. What would folks say if they knew that loud-mouthed Dana Tims was doing a degree? People in Deveroe didn’t have degrees! If you were a Deveroe boy you got a job at the concrete works till your lungs couldn’t take the dust any more, and if you were a Deveroe girl you worked at Cardill’s until someone asked you to marry them. Then you flounced down the aisle of St Mark’s in white frills and started having babies in the cottage hospital. Dana, however, had three big problems with that plan she hated babies; she looked awful in anything even vaguely frilly . . . and no-one in this town was ever going to want to marry her.She turned into the high street and made gratefully for the red roof of Cardill’s. She knew where she was in the factory. She was good at her work and she enjoyed it. Most importantly of all, it paid for her degree. She clattered her bike nervously into the rack and chained it up with shaking hands.“Hiya, Danni. Ready for the top dogs?”Dana turned to Shelley, her best friend, and gasped.“What on earth are you dolled up like that for, Shell?” she demanded, taking in her friend’s short denim skirt and figure-hugging top.Shelley grinned.“Might catch someone’s eye, mightn’t I? I fancy being whisked off to London to live the life of Riley.”Dana shook her head.“There are other ways to get on,” she said. Then she wished she could claw back her words, for Shelley was staring at her as if she were mad.“What ways?”“Oh, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. You look great, babe. You’ll blow them away.”Shelley was still staring strangely at her and she knew she’d flushed, but other girls were arriving and they were thankfully swept inside. “Hurry along there, girls!” Carol called. “I want all workstations immaculate today. Xion are due at noon and I want them to know you’re the best.”“’Course we’re the best!” Dana said brightly, setting her usual loud-mouth persona quickly into place, “and I’m the best of the best!” Glancing up the steps, she caught sight of Jonathan Darrow, Xion’s skinny graduate trainee, newly arrived at Cardill’s. He had a degree, and look what good it did him! Dana had to be mad, putting herself through all this for an empty dream. Yet it was a dream she seemed to be finding impossible to shake off.


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