Friday, August 30, 2013

Barbed-Wire Butterflies by Jessica Kristie (Excerpt)

“Let me give you the rundown on this thing,” Jada said to break the awkward silence. “I still have to make my quota or I may lose my meal. They don’t care if I have to teach someone, I still have to get it done,” she said with a fast, stern voice. “This screw here is how you tighten and untighten the needles. We don’t change those often. We all know, depending on the mood, if we break one—we get punished.”

Elani winced, terrified at her comment. But Jada went on.

“Really quick now, on the rest of this, it will do you good to retain all I’m saying, Elani. Good for us both.” She continued on and pointed to all the many parts of the sewing machine. “This is the foot. The pressure foot that holds the fabric in place. These are the seam guides and cornering guides. You will understand more as I start putting together this garment. Watch now as I thread the needle and the bobbin,” she kept on as she opened the bottom and pulled out a cylinder-shaped item and thread.

Intently, Elani stared and tried to keep all the information in place just as Jada had warned. She didn’t want to cause trouble or have anyone punished just from her presence. The food was scarce and the last thing anyone wanted was to have that taken away. Within a few quick minutes Jada had gone through all the pieces of the machine and began sewing again.

Elani watched as she moved the garment through, following the pattern to make a perfect line. She was nervous she would not be able to perform as Jada had done with perfect ease; she had never worked with a sewing machine before.

As a creative spirit, Elani was often inspired to paint or sculpt. Since she enjoyed the art of creation she vowed at that moment to try and find enjoyment in what she was being forced to create. None of this was going to be easy, but one thing she could control was her feelings on the inside.

Soon after Jada had started sewing again, a loud annoying buzz that led into a voice through an intercom said, “Section one, you have five minutes.” A small area of workers then scrambled up and went to the back of the room. They each grabbed a slice of bread and headed down the side of the building.

Jada noticed the surprised expression on Elani’s face and with a whisper, filled her in. “This is our only break in the morning. You get your slice of bread and quickly find your way to the bathroom. You really don’t want to interrupt your day with bathroom breaks. That wouldn’t go over well with the watchers, so get it out now.”

“The watchers?”

“Yeah, take a look around and you will see a few people that watch us. They make sure we meet our quotas, that we are not talking, and that we work to their satisfaction. They don’t like to be bothered and they really don’t like it when people stop for any reason. Stay on task, Elani. Always. It will keep you out of trouble and off their radar. If you are noticed, then you are targeted, and that is never good for any of the girls here. Especially with the men. Don’t ever let the men notice you.”

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG

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