The Shucker

https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/pnp/nclc/00900/00919v.jpg

 

A girl’s voice protested. A cackle followed.

Leah kept her head down and her eyes on the task before her. There was a quota to complete if she wanted anything in her stomach, and she could make her body dead to wandering fingers. She’d learned how. The hard way. The only way.

When the foreman finally moved on, she gritted her teeth and tried to not compare slime to slime.

Not that she would ever touch the stuff. And not only because it was forbidden.

Beside her, Mandy sniffled. “How can you stand it?”

“Perhaps she doesn’t mind him,” Becca hissed. “Seeing how she never cries.”

Leah clenched her teeth, locked her knees, and steadied her breath. She focused on the fading light glinting on the blade. “No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

 

 

 

 

For the dVerse Prosery writing prompt


Prosery prompt quote: “No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” (Zora Neale Hurston, from “How Does it Feel to be Colored Me” in World Tomorrow, 1928)

Photo: Hine Lewis Wickes, The Library Of Congress https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/nclc.00919/

35 thoughts on “The Shucker

  1. Wow, Na’ama, I got the goosebumps reading your story. The worst parts beyond the obvious are the impossible situation and the viciousness and lack of support from her sisters in exploitation. My heart goes out to her and I hope she finds a way out of her situation. Wonderful image you found to go along with your prosery.

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  2. This was so good, Na’ama! This could be any factory/sweatshop– this, “she gritted her teeth and tried to not compare slime to slime.” We’ve all known someone like him, haven’t we?
    Perfect image, too. The places change, but people don’t. 😏

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    • Ah, Lillian, I think the thought had crossed her mind. Though, perhaps she also knows that without food in her belly, there’d be little vindication, and perhaps all she can do is dream of better days. Though, yeah, the fantasy may give her strength to endure. And … who knows. …

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    • Thank you, Helen! I am so gratified that this resonated.
      I often think of those who came before us, and of those who still toil in conditions that most of us will find hard to imagine, let alone survive. We have made progress. There is still so much more to do.

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    • Thank you, Ingrid! Surviving such wretched conditions is a strength already, whether one cries, hisses, or grits their teeth and bears it. In the end, they are all trying to survive, and the sadness of it is that it should not be this harsh, and yet it was … and yet in too many places it still is. I’m glad this resonated, even if I wish it was complete fiction, and not a mirror to the realities of too many.

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  3. “she gritted her teeth and tried to not compare slime to slime.” The apathy of her colleagues towards her, while trapped in the same plight as she, sears. So much silent anger, heartache, resolution told in so few words!

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    • Thank you! Yes, I was hoping to be able to convey the combined suffering in that room – they are each coping they way they know how, but the result amplifies the misery all around, too. The wretched realities of too many, past and present. Thank you for reading and commenting! Great comment!

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    • Thank you, Kathryn! It was such a miserable time for so many, and it is STILL such a miserable time for so many in too many places … that I’m gratified that my words were congruent with this (historically amazing and captivating!) photo.
      Here’s to doing better, as a humanity. And thank you again for reading and commenting!

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