The Factory Girls – Episode 31

“Well,” she said sadly, “I guess that’s it. Back to work, ladies, you’ll need all the wages you can get now.”Dana nodded and rose slowly but, to everyone’s surprise, Shelley leaped in front of her.“It’s not over yet, Carol.” She stood up, wobbling a little on her heels. “I’m going to hand these T-shirts out at break and soon everyone in town will be wearing them. Jonathan will put it on Facebook and his dad’s mate will notice and then maybe Xion will decide Cardill’s suits their stupid portfolio, after all!”She stopped, breathless, and, after a moment’s stunned pause the others cheered loudly.“Good on you!” Dana said, clapping her on the back so she wobbled again.“Just, you know, doing my job. Here . . .” She thrust T-shirts at them all, Frank included, then headed out. Dana and Helen followed with Jonathan hot on their heels. But Frank called him back. Carol saw the lad flush and felt sorry for him. Frank had mentioned to her last week that he was looking for another placement for Jonathan, and she wondered if the lad had told his new girlfriend yet. She suspected not.“I’ve arranged that tour for you,” she heard Frank say. Jonathan yanked the door shut. He hadn’t told Dana, then! “Next Wednesday, you’ll like it there. Very high tech. And Carol?” Frank spun round to her. “Perhaps you would like to come, too.”“Me? Why?”Frank cleared his throat.“It’s where Cardill’s machines will be placed, and they’ll need someone to train up the operators. If your girls don’t want to move, that is.”Carol saw Jonathan look up, suddenly hopeful. She sent him back to the factory floor, admiring his optimism. Personally she couldn’t see Dana Tims ever leaving Deveroe. But then, she couldn’t have imagined Dana dating this fresh-faced graduate until today, so what did she know? People could always surprise you; that’s what she loved about them.“Carol?”Frank was looking strangely at her and she pulled her thoughts back to business.“I don’t know, Frank, really. I’m too old for somewhere new.”“You wouldn’t have to move house or anything. It’s not such a big commute less than an hour and it would only be two or three days a week.”“And the rest of my time?”“You could just enjoy yourself and relax a little.”“I’m perfectly relaxed!” she snapped. “Or I was, until all this.”Frank stepped closer.“That’s not true, though, is it, Carol?” His voice was kind and Carol forced herself to meet his eyes. After Eddie had died it had been Frank who had somehow kept her on track with her job, and she owed him for it.“Maybe not, Frank,” she conceded, “but without this place I’d be a gibbering wreck by now.”“You don’t know that.”“I do. How can I go to a new factory, anyway? I’d feel like a rat deserting the sinking ship.”“Is it better, then, to drown with the rest?”Carol pushed him.“Don’t be so melodramatic, Frank.”“Me? Come to dinner, Carol. Let’s talk about this properly.”“Dinner?”“You’d be welcome, surely you know that?”She did know and she was grateful, but . . .“Fraternise with the enemy?” she suggested lightly and he stepped back, stung.“You know I can’t afford to lose my job, either.”Carol looked down guiltily. She did know that, knew it better than anyone here, but it still felt wrong to be saving her own skin. She could see people peering in the window at her and Frank and worried they didn’t trust her. She hated that feeling and, despite everything they’d been through together, a tiny bit of her also hated Frank for being the one to bring all this trouble to her door.


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