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Great Things – Flash Fiction

March 4, 2016



Great Things

I know it’s only been three weeks, but I am already missing my brother. He is only five. Much too young to work in the factory. At eleven, some think I am too young too, but I will show them. I am strong and hearty, not weak and sickly like some of the girls here.

I gaze longingly out the window. The family farm is too far away to see, but I know where it is. Just there, past the smoke stacks of the steel mill, just over the mountain, on a dirt road somewhere beyond that. I shrug off the nostalgia and go back to my machine. Another ten hours of stitching shoes. A twelve-hour work day. Seven days a week.

I place another rubber sole over the metal plate. Twist the leather around it and turn on the machine. As the machine hums, I remember Poppa’s words.

“You have a chance to do great things, Emmy. The city will be lonely, but we are always right here,” he said, pointing to my heart.

I weep for a moment, sniffle, and dry up my tears. I am strong and hearty. I will do great things.

©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.

(198 words)


  1. Great short story full of emotion. Loved the ending 🙂

  2. “She’ll make it — there will be troubles — but she’ll make it,” she said. “Another source of information on child labour are inquiries made by governments into working conditions. With all the digitization . . .For example: Canada: Royal Commission into Capital and Labour; US: the National Archives. Just thoughts. A sad and fascinating topic,” she concluded.

    • Thanks hun! I will check out those sources because I really may write a longer piece on this subject! You are a gem!

  3. What a beautiful story – her family will always be with her, in her heart ❤

  4. What a strong young lady! Great perspective!

  5. Extremely heartbreaking…wonderfully written!

  6. I feel for Emmy, especially with that great last line.

  7. I love this! What a beautiful ending ❤

  8. That’s a beautiful story… inspired.

  9. Fabulous story of longing and determination Lori. So well done.

  10. This was a beautiful, beautiful story — could become a novel!
    Reminds me of those poor factory girls in Lowell, Massachusetts, working for hours on their feet, sleeping for a few hours every night in their girls’ hostel-house, and dealing with harsh employers.
    I thank my stars that we have more protection from predatory employers these days, although there are still horror stories out there.
    The humanity in your story is touching and lovely.

    • Thank you, dear… yes, I was thinking this could be worked into a novel as well. I had to scale it down quite a bit to fit it into the 200 word limit. Thank you for telling me about the factory workers in Lowell, MA. I will have to do some research on this now as it has greatly peaked my interest 🙂 I too am glad the policies have changed some and I have lived the horrors of being a young woman working under harsh conditions. No fun at all, but not nearly as bad as then.

  11. Wonderful! This really drew me in. So sad at the end.

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