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Baby Blue Garment





This piece was featured in "The Den Anthology" by Grey Wolf Publishing. It's a collection of short story contest winners compiled over the last year. Grey Wolf is an excellent publishing house in the midwest that has dedicated itself to getting little-known authors like myself on to the printed page and into the hands of readers all over the world. They also offer workshop services and a number of other opportunities to help burgeoning writers find their voice via the pen. Check them out here and hey maybe buy the book, ey?

The buzzing electrical motors and simultaneous hammering of a hundred sewing needles made a hectic but numbing atmosphere. Even in such crowded conditions, the workers were careful never to let their weary eyes meet those of the people around them, especially the overseers that stalked the roads looking to make a brutal example of his absolute authority. The heavy air hung stagnant with sweat and fear.
 Their worn out bodies were vulnerable to the infectious diseases that ran rampant through the workforce. Piali had worked at the factory for nearly four months. She hadn’t seen the sun once in that time. She was part of her machine; she had to feed in the fabric and press the peddle with her foot. She performed the repetitive task with mechanical precision. One error in the stitching, a single inconsistency in the hem and she would be discarded.
The operators of the machines were far more easily replaced than the machines themselves. It was part of Piali’s job to make sure it always ran, to assure that motor was always humming. Their blood was what fueled the comfortable illusion of childhood for those who were insulated from the suffering that was the foundation of modern life. 
When they hugged their dolls, they would never think of the children whose pain created the merchandise that symbolized their parent’s love.
She kept her head low and her eyes down at her hands to avoid the piercing gaze of the overseers. Piali was pregnant, and she feared somehow he would know. Pregnancy would render her useless to him, and she would be condemned to starve among the hordes of emaciated and destitute bodies haunting the areas around the factory. Their decaying bodies putrefied in the streets. They were refuse, just meals for stray dogs and insects. 
Piali finished the stitching on yet another baby blue pajamas designed for a plastic infant. She had stitched together thousands of these garments; she wondered how many prosthetic children could have been manufactured.
She clutched the soft cloth article in her hand. She remembered the child her sister had. She was born small enough for the dolls clothes to fit her. Her life had been brief, though. She lived long enough to feel the torments of starvation, crying futility for a mother whose body was being ravaged by infection. It was a brief and brutal existence, and she knew she couldn't expect anything much different.
A sharp pain tore through her. She cringed and clenched her torso. She felt warm blood streaming on her thigh. Her baby was gone. She crossed her legs and hoped no one would notice the growing stain. She threw the garment she had just sewn into the waiting plastic bin and began to stitch together a new one, a new outfit for a synthetic child who would be afforded far more in its imaginary life than her real child could ever have.


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