The Factory Girls – Episode 45

Later, as they were signing off, Shelley linked an arm through Dana’s.“Fancy a coffee? My treat.”“Wow! You feeling OK, Shell?”“Don’t be mean or I’ll not buy you a sticky bun! I just fancied something nice after, you know, the papers and that.”“I know,” Dana agreed. “Rubbish, weren’t they? Tell you what, you get the coffees and I’ll do the buns.”They walked up the high street together, Dana watching the gusting clouds overhead and Shelley the shop windows. Then suddenly Shelley stopped, yanking Dana back with her.“Hey, Danni, that would really suit you!”Dana followed her friend’s finger and saw a mannequin in the window. She wore a checked shirt, big boots and a black denim mini.“The shirt?” she asked, puzzled.“No, stupid, the skirt!”“I don’t do skirts, Shell, you know that.”“Well, you should. You’ve got great legs.”“Rubbish.”“You have! It’s all that cycling you do. Oh, go on, Danni, it’s not like the skirt is frilly or anything. It’s denim.”“It’s still a skirt.”Shelley looked slyly at her.“Bet Jonathan would like it.”Dana blushed. She had to admit that Shelley might be right. She’d been to Jonathan’s little flat at the weekend and had seen a couple of photos from his university days. There had been one at a picnic of some sort, the boys in preppy shorts and the girls in flippy summer dresses. Another had been at some evening do. Jonathan had looked gorgeous in black tie, like James Bond. The girls had been in ball gowns, all big skirts and bare shoulders.“I’m right, aren’t I?” Shelley prompted her now.“He should like me just as I am,” Dana said bullishly.“And he clearly does,” Shelley replied, squeezing her arm. “But the question is, do you like you as you are? Come on, Danni, try it on at least. To cheer me up.”Dana groaned but let herself be pulled into the shop. She knew Shelley in this mood. It was best just to play along until you could escape. She stepped into the changing room and tugged off her jeans, pulling the skirt on in its place.“It’s tiny!” she bleated.“Nonsense.” The curtain flew back and Shelley assessed her, hands on hips. “It’s gorgeous! You look lovely, Danni.”Dana looked down at her black socks and trainers.“I look like an idiot.”“I grant you, you need new shoes. Here.”Shelley proffered her own kitten heels in red and white polka-dots. Dana groaned.“No way.”“Wait a minute, then. Don’t take it off!”Dana stood in the little changing room, her legs bare, feeling foolish. It wasn’t as bad as she’d feared, but she would never dare go out like this, would she?“Here!” Shelley shoved a pair of simple loafers through the curtain. Dana slipped them on in place of her own clumsy footwear.“Much better,” her friend pronounced. “Come on, Danni, admit it. You must like it.”“Must I?” Dana grunted. But if she were honest, she did. Besides, Jonathan had promised to take her “somewhere special” on Friday and she could do with something to wear.“Buy them, Danni,” Shelley pleaded. “It’s so lovely seeing you happy after everything you’ve been through.”Dana sighed, tugging at the minimal fabric, but she was touched by her friend’s concern all the same. Dana shouldn’t be spending her money, not with the factory still due to shut down at the end of the week and her degree to finish, but she hadn’t bought any new clothes in so long and she was sorely tempted.“Not the shoes,” she said firmly. There were loads of her mum’s little pumps in the house. Mum would have loved seeing Dana wearing them. That thought propelled her to the till and before she knew it she was outside, skirt in bag.“See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Shelley said, delighted. “Now, sticky buns!”


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