Ida stared longingly out the factory window. Children played in the large empty lot across the street. Her heart ached to join them, but hours still remained on her shift. She glanced over her shoulder, scanning the floor for Mr. Brooks. He didn’t allow Ida and the other kids in the factory breaks from their labors, but Ida’s hands were blistered and sore from working the machinery.
She hoped the new medicine she purchased for Mamma would help her to get better. It frightened Ida to see the blood on the handkerchief every time Mamma went into one of her coughing fits. Perhaps if she were well again, Mamma could take up her sewing to bring in more money. Ida knew she’d never be able to leave the factory, but at least if there was extra income, she might not have to entertain the gentlemen callers that came by in the evening any longer.
Ida’s eyes drooped from fatigue. Before returning to the line, she wondered again how things might be like if Daddy hadn’t died. Spotting Mr. Brooks strolling down the hall, she dutifully returned to her station, fulfilling her role in building the great industrial nation of America.
Word Count: 200
[This is my entry into the Flash Fiction Challenge for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner by Roger Shipp. Write a story based on a photo prompt and introductory sentence in 200 words or less.
This photo prompt reminded me of the horrible conditions many children faced during the Industrial Revolution in America and other western countries. It also prompted me to give thought that while the wealthier nations of the world no longer allow children to work in such conditions, many of the developing countries still do. What disturbs me most is that while I would never consciously support companies that employed children or subjected their workers to such poor working conditions, I’m quite certain I have through my purchases as an American consumer.
I normally don’t like to advocate social awareness so directly on my fiction website (I save that for Dumasaphobic Diatribes) but maybe this is appropriate. A bit of research produced some organizations like the International Initiative to End Child Labor and the Child Labor Coalition. Perhaps if you’re interested, you can take a look at these organizations like I have and create better awareness and understanding of the issues. I’ll step off my soapbox now.]