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(A short story of 1603 words)

The Green Coat

Literary

by Sheila Ryan


A young girl from a poor family walks to and from her job in a factory in clothes ill suited to the cold winter weather. Her father, despite their lack of money, thinks something should be done about this.


The siren sounded the end of another long working day. Mary pulled her brown woollen cardigan from its peg and wrapped it around her thin body. It did little to keep out the biting December winds. Her shawl kept the chill from her ears though, as she hurried her familiar route home through the main street. Keep your head covered for modesty and warmth her mother had always said. God forbid I should need modesty. I could dress like the gentry and no fella would look twice, Mary thought as she wrestled with the weather. The neighbours were always standing, arms clasped across their bosoms, shaking their heads at the poor plain child as she passed. Still, wasn't she a grand help around the house they muttered. Lately, Mary had tried to smile a little more and make friends at the factory but they all had busy lives going to dances in their grand clothes. All her money went to her mother. At only 15 she was the eldest of nine and every penny counted. Their father, God help him, was sickly and couldn't work. “Is that you Mary?” Her mother called from the kitchen. “Warm your hands a little then come and give me a hand with the washing.” The heat from the peat stove reddened Mary's hands and put small dots of pink on her hollow cheeks...
 

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