FACTORY GIRL: A NEW Daily Serial

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Long hours, low pay, and big dreams...

Hi there.  I’m Hattie Morehead, and for a 19-year-old, I’ve screwed up my life pretty good so far. I grew up in a town in Tennessee the size of a mud puddle, and I’d planned to be somewhere else by now doing something important.  Instead I got myself pregnant, dropped out of high school, and took a job at the same sewing factory that sucked the life out of my mother and my grandmother.

My relatives are shady, my friends are freaks, and my romantic prospects are dim. But this small-town girl has big dreams:

Someday I’m gonna get out of here.
Someday everyone will know my name.
Because someday instead of sewing designer clothes for minimum wage, I’ll have my own clothing line.

I admit, at times that day seems far, far away. But I’m gonna make it happen. I simply have to.

For now, I’m hanging in and hanging on… by a thread.

 


 

 The FACTORY GIRL daily serial will run July 1 - December 31, 2019.  Each day's episode will display for 24 hours, approximately 4am-4am Eastern.   Come back every day to read the serial for free, or if you need to catch up or read ahead, a monthly novella will be available the first of each month, exclusively from Amazon. Meanwhile, please tell all your reader friends to join us for this fun project! 


 

December 7, Saturday

I STOOD and stretched tall to flex my back. Hours of working on my wedding gown—correction, Kenzie Jamison’s gown—had left me stiff. My mind went to my dear departed grandmother, permanently bent from years of sewing.

I was adding the precious Venetian lace Cora had given me to the edge of the short bell sleeves and the scalloped, three-foot train. I felt a pang of guilt for using the lace on a garment I wouldn’t be wearing, but I’d decided to pay Cora for it out of my check. My gaze landed on my purse and I felt compelled to fish the check out of my wallet. Girly Girl Global Enterprises, pay to the order of Hattie Morehead, two thousand and no/100 dollars, signed by Kenzie’s assistant. On the memo line she’d simply written the word “dress.” Which was perfectly legitimate.

So why did it strike me as cold and transactional?

Because the garment was more than a dress to me.

I stood back and surveyed the garment from all sides. It had begun as a project to take my mind off my pregnancy, something purely for myself as a reminder to keep my eye on the future. I had looked through pattern magazines and doodled for days before coming up with a simple, tailored design that would flatter my modest figure, which at the time seemed to have a mind of its own as it expanded to accommodate a large baby boy. I had first cut the pattern from muslin and tested the design completely, down to the zipper and the little loop in the back to button up the train. After many tweaks, I’d finally worked up the nerve to cut into the bolt of heavy ivory silk I’d found in my grandmother’s stash of fabric. I’d never seen her wear anything other than cotton house dresses for work and a few double-knit skirts for church. I wondered what she’d had in mind for the sumptuous fabric—perhaps a special gown for Geena or for me. Or maybe she’d just loved owning it and touching it.

The luminous fabric had been a pleasure to sew, had fairly flowed through the machine with smooth fluidity. And it draped to perfection, catching the light in a way that gave the dress movement and depth.

To the bodice and the train I’d sewn pearl beads one at a time. Few of the beads matched—they were a collection of what I could find at Goodwill and flea markets. Sometimes I’d get lucky and find a small baggy of the same kind, other times I’d find a handful at the bottom of a donated box of buttons. On a few occasions, I’d scavenged broken pearl necklaces. The result was a sea of varied texture and shine that gave the dress weighted structure and made it feel like an heirloom garment.

I loved it.

But this factory girl was nothing if not practical. If I was going to be a designer, I couldn’t keep every garment I made. I had no immediate plans for marriage, and when and if the time came, I could make another dress. For now, I needed the utility this dress could give me.

I returned the check to my wallet, calculating the hours left to finish the dress. I estimated I could finish it in two or three more sittings, if I pushed hard. I definitely wanted to ship the dress and cash the check before I left for New York.

And if Cora fetched a nice price for the Patsy Cline beaded jacket from the collectors she was pitting against each other, I’d have that money, too.

I realized it was dark outside and I’d have to leave soon to be able to give Jake a bath and put him to bed, although Booker seemed happy to handle that chore on his own. But I was getting tired, probably because I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before thinking about my sister and Adam’s father.

It left me feeling sick, as if somehow I was the one betraying Adam.

I pushed the situation from my mind, then covered the dress with a sheet and headed toward the front door, extinguishing lights as I went. When I stepped out onto the front stoop, I realized my outside bulb had burned out. I shivered in the cool air trying to find the door lock with my key in the dark. I was rummaging for my phone to use its light when I heard a noise coming from the gravel road that divided the trailer park.

It was a familiar whistling sound. I waited and watched, and sure enough, Chester Bayer came into sight, dressed all in black and swinging his arms as if he didn’t have a care in the world. While I watched, he did a jig, then kept going on to his trailer where he practically danced up the steps before disappearing inside.

I was glad my mother had found something to keep her busy.

But it occurred to me the people in Yonder sure did a lot of sneaking around. ~



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