Willie arrived at the factory on Monday and patiently awaited Alberts’ arrival. She wondered if he would take notice of the ribbon in her hair. After several hours, she turned and there he was.
He walked up to her and with his hands behind his back, teasingly told her to pick one. Anxiously, she motioned toward his left hand.
When he revealed what it held, she suddenly felt as if the room was spinning. Afraid that her knees might buckle, she steadied herself against a table and quickly apologized for her frailty.
Albert was concerned and asked if she was alright. She lied when she said “yes. I’m quite alright. “What a delightful surprise. You are so very thoughtful.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked. “You’re not looking very well.”
“I’m quite alright,” she repeated. Again, she lied. She was shaken to the core and unsure exactly what she was feeling. It was an almost eerie uneasiness.
As he walked down the long dark hallway, she watched in stunned silence. When he disappeared, she realized that she had been holding her breath and felt as if her lungs were about to burst. She took a deep breath and tried to regain her composure.
Willie was disciplined and although she was clearly unnerved, she began her daily routine. She thought humming Christmas carols as she had done in the past, would be a good distraction but she found that she was temporarily unable to recall the tunes.
She was light-headed and it seemed that she had somehow lost time when she suddenly realized that she didn’t remember dusting the rows of sewing machines, although it was clearly evident that she had.
Forcing herself back into some semblance of reality, she hurriedly emptied the waste baskets and began to sweep. The last chore was mopping as always and she had learned to make sure that she had the brush for the large dark stain.
She had hoped to see Albert again but he had never before returned after he disappeared down the long dark hallway.
Albert had made no mention of the ribbon in her hair and she couldn’t hide her disappointment. She had worn it just for him and given that he always sported a bright red bow tie, she was hoping that he would somehow make the connection.
As she stood at the door, waiting for the foreman to arrive and release her to the outside world, her hand started to tremble as she looked at the gift given to her by Albert. Her heart was beating faster than the wings of a wild bird, desperately trying to escape capture.
When the foreman opened the door, she was surprised when he uncharacteristically spoke to her. “What have you got there, lass?” he asked.
“A dandelion,” she said.
To be continued_______________