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Excerpt from “The Factory Worker”

Patty was excited on the morning of her departure. She was dreadful about the vast change ahead and leaving the people she loved behind, but she was exhilarated to get on with it. She stood in the driveway with her father beside a stack of luggage, waiting for Victor.

“You be sure and call your mother as soon as you land. She’ll want to know you got there in one piece. Do you have everything, your aunt’s address?”

“I will, and I have her address in my purse, in my pocket, and in my cosmetics bag.”

“I’m sorry I can’t drive you, babe. I have an all-day meeting today I can’t miss. We’re covering a lot of ground.”

“I know. It’s okay. It was sweet to give Victor the day off. That’s the best going away present you could have given me.”

She hugged her father. It was a loving grip with her head to his chest. Her eyes welled with tears.

He patted her back. “Now don’t start sniveling. You’ll stain my suit.”

“I love you, daddy.”

“Daddy? It’s been years since you called me daddy. When you were little I used to hold you when you cried. You ruined more shirts and ties for me. Now look at you, grown, a woman, going off on your own.”

She straightened her father’s tie and patted it in place. He offered his handkerchief. She laughed and sniffed and blotted her nose. “And still ruining your ties.”

“All I want from you is to come back a professional woman, ready to hit the ground running. You’ll probably make more money than I do. I’ve been buying you things all your life. I’m going to make you buy me something.”

“I will. I’ll buy you anything you want. Anything.”

“Victor bought your house?”

“Yes. He loves it.”

“Here he comes now. I have to go or I’ll be late.”

She gave her father a hug. “Good bye, dad.”

“Good bye, babe. Take care.”

The ride to the airport was heartfelt and quiet. She sat close to Victor, hugging his arm. There was nothing either of them could say to make the ride easier. Time seemed to ooze up on them with its threat of the inevitable. Time can be relentless.

They didn’t know how to say good bye, not with so considerable an amount of time attached. The man who checked her baggage was fast and efficient and completely oblivious to the two aching hearts watching him. They had a forty minute wait, and when her call to board was announced, they faced each other. She was terribly brave and Victor wanted to sink into a crack in the floor. Victor looked into her eyes, and as a man will do when taken with great beauty, he must touch it, he put his hand to her cheek.

“Your face, God, how I’ll miss your face. I love you, Patty.”

He put his hand to her cheek as if it were a passionate kiss, and she felt it as such, her tears streaming. He kissed her, and afterward, after the minor tension of accelerated speed and the floating sensation of lifting off and away from everything she loved, she wept quietly into her father’s handkerchief.

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