The Factory Girls – Episode 32

Helen looked sceptically down at the lurid T-shirt. Now was no time to be faint-hearted. The stupid clause she’d been so proud of had got them nowhere, but she refused to let herself get down about it. Shelley was right they had to get media attention now and if anything could do that, this neon garment had to be it.Taking a deep breath, she pulled it over her head and eyed herself nervously in the bedroom mirror. It was not a pretty sight. She wasn’t what you’d call small-figured and the T-shirt strained across her chest, making the words loom outwards.“That’s what we want,” she told herself, but even so she wasn’t sure it was worth sacrificing all dignity for.George skidded in and eyed her up and down.“Cool!” he pronounced, then ran out again to call his little brother, who zoomed up on his truck. “Look at Mummy!”“She’s very green.”“Exactly. Look, Harry, I’m red . . .” George indicated his scarlet top “. . . and Mummy’s green. We can play traffic lights.” He looked at Helen. “Do you think Ellie would be amber?”Helen laughed.“I doubt it very much, George.”“Ah, well. It’s a rubbish colour anyway. Right, Mummy, you stand here.”Helen let herself be manoeuvred into traffic light position but then the door slammed, footsteps pounded up the stairs and Kevin rushed in. He stopped dead when he saw his wife.“Wow!”“Dazzling?” she suggested, striking a pose.“Something like that.” He pointed to the stretched briefs underlining the slogan. Helen grimaced.“Shelley got them made to catch people’s attention.”“They’ll do that all right. Reckon you’ll stop the traffic in those.”“No, Daddy.” George looked cross. “Green is for ‘go’!”Kevin blinked down at his son, momentarily confused, then shook himself.“Anyway,” he said, kissing Helen, “it might not matter so much now.”“What might not matter?”“The factory.”“But, Kevin . . .”“Helen, I’ve got a job!”That stopped her. Helen looked at him and saw he was beaming with pride.“That’s wonderful, love. What is it?”“Just labouring. It’s not much, I know, and it’s only on a month’s contract at first, but the guy at the office said the contractors were just waiting for planning for a big development, and that if I prove myself I could be in on that. Isn’t that great?”“A big development?” Helen asked. “Where?”“Not sure. Local. Does it matter? It’s work, Lennie. I can support you again!”He looked so proud that she felt a rush of love for him.“That’s great, Kev,” she said, and meant it. She hugged him tight before adding, “It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to save the factory, though, right?”He frowned.“You can certainly try, love.”“But?”“But I think you might be wasting your time. I saw Mike down the job centre and he says there’s no hope. He says he’s seen this before. Once the big bosses make up their mind to close a factory, they . . .”“Yes, thank you, but maybe this time it’ll be different! Maybe the other factories just didn’t try hard enough.”She could feel something boiling inside her, hot and painful. It wasn’t like her and she had no idea how to stop it. Kevin reached out and stroked her hair.“It’s OK, Lennie. It will all be OK. I’ll look after you.”She jerked back.“That’s sweet, Kevin, thank you, but I don’t want to be looked after any more!”His face closed up.“Are we not good enough for you any more, perhaps, Mrs Supervisor? Am I not good enough?”“No! I mean, yes. Oh, Kevin, of course you are. I just . . . this just matters to me.”She ducked her head, fighting back tears. The boys were staring, bewildered, at their parents and Ellie had appeared in the doorway. Helen forced herself to look at her husband and saw, to her great relief, tenderness in his eyes.“I know it does, love.” He tugged fondly on the ridiculous T-shirt. “It must do for you to be wearing this!”Helen tried to ignore the bubbles of rage that still threatened to erupt inside, and smiled gratefully, She reached up to kiss him. All was well . . . for now, at least.


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