The Factory Girls – Episode 23

Dana’s hand seemed to be doing calculations of its own accord, but her brain was definitely not thinking of National Insurance contributions. It was somewhere up a hill with sunshine and puffy white clouds. She was going for a walk! With Jonathan! Would he kiss her? She had thought he was about to earlier, right here in the alcove, and she’d had to sit down in case . . . “In case it wasn’t as good as I want it to be,” she admitted to herself.Dana had dated a few times, but it had never been up to much. It was like hanging out with her brothers, only with fewer laughs. Dana wanted much more than that.She wanted a man she could talk to, as her parents had talked to each other. Her mother and father had seemed to share so much.So why was she contemplating going out with some guy with whom she had nothing in common?“We both love the factory,” came the answer.“Yes, but Jonathan is employed by Xion, like Frank. He’s actually the enemy.”“That’s not fair, Dana.”“True, though.”“But he’s done nothing wrong.”“Shut up!” She slammed her hand on the desk and shut the book with a sigh. She wasn’t going to get any more work done now, so she might as well go home, cook tea, and figure out what to write to the government. She stuffed her books into her bag, carefully clicking the padlock into place, and headed out, pausing only to get details of her local MP, Mr Peter McBride, from the librarian. Halfway down the high street the butcher was closing up and she stopped to eye up the lamb chops.“Do you them half price, love!” he called and she nodded, but before she could step inside something caught at her ankles and sent her flying.“Harry! Oh, Harry, naughty boy. I’m so sorry. Are you all right . . . Dana!”“Helen.” Dana picked herself up and looked round. “What on earth was that?”“That was Harry, my youngest.” Helen gestured sheepishly to a cute-faced toddler on a trike. “He’s not a very good driver yet.”“Clearly.” Harry looked close to tears and Dana bent down to him. “I’m all right, don’t worry. If I’m lucky I’ll get a big bruise and my brothers will have to make tea for me. It’s lamb chops . . . oh!”The butcher, tired of waiting, had shut up shop. No lamb chops, then. His two siblings came up behind him.“He shouldn’t have hurt you, should he?” the girl said.“Accidents happen,” Dana told her, siding instinctively with the youngest child. “I’m used to it. My brother ran over my foot with a motorbike once!”“A real one?” The older boy’s eyes widened delightedly.“Yep. A great big Harley.”“Was it going fast?”“Fast enough. It hurt a lot more than this, I can tell you.”All three stared up at her as if she were some sort of goddess and she laughed.“Come on you lot, stop gawping,” Helen said, rounding them up. “I’m so sorry, Dana. Are you sure you can walk?”“I’m fine, really. Any luck with the contract?”Helen’s face fell.“None. I can’t make sense of it. It’s all ‘in the event of’ this and ‘the aforementioned’ that. Why don’t they write these things in English?”“Goodness knows. I think it’s so that normal people will still need lawyers a conspiracy. Accountants are almost as bad.”“Really?”Dana flushed. “Yeah. The guy that does the garage’s books is plain weird.”“Well paid, too, though, I bet.”Dana forced out a laugh.“I’d better get going.” “Me, too. Maybe once this lot are fed I can look at that contract again.”She looked far from keen and Dana felt sorry for her.“I’m not doing much tonight,” she said. “How about I come round later and give you a hand?”Helen looked delighted. “That would be great, Dana, thanks. About eight?”Dana was already regretting the offer but she could hardly back out now.“I’ll be there.”


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