Kate E. Lore
Lydia stands, dangerously close, next to the rapidly moving parts of the machine. It is so loud in her ear she can feel it in her skull. Her hair is gently shaking from the vibrations. Her eardrums hurt. They throb to the sound. Her eyes jiggle in their sockets. So she closes them.
The machine is at the center of the factory. It’s hidden behind the lines of smaller machines, and large storage bins, and a conveyer belt that cuts the room in half. Pallets are driven past. They are held up in the air, ten feet up off the ground, by a guy driving a forklift. On the ground, yellow lines are drawn in geometric shapes, splitting the entire warehouse into smaller pieces that fit perfectly together like a puzzle. These lines are here to keep the workers from leaving their area, from leaving their place, from stepping in the line of potential danger.
Lydia imagines stepping out of her square. Of raising her foot over the grey cement and passing that yellow line. She imagines walking out exactly seven feet to the perfect middle distance between herself and the work zone across the way from her. She imagines looking down the straight line, down to the large swing doors that separate the two warehouses.
Lydia imagines that she didn’t hear the forklift coming up behind her. That he hits her and breaks her leg. That everyone comes running over and they try to help her, to comfort her, to ease her pain. She imagines them in deep concern for her injuries. She imagines they care. She imagines they love her.
Lydia imagines that it kills her. That she tragically dies despite their best efforts. That the pallets fall all in one go because the driver wasn’t paying attention, that he bumped the switch by accident when he was startled. And it crushes her quickly all in one go. It happens so fast people are stunned, women are traumatized. The driver will have to see a psychologist. The blood will seep out from the pile of wood and it will stain the shoes of the nearest stander by with a red so deep no amount of washing could get it out.
And they would remember her. And they would regret that they didn’t take the time to better know her. That they didn’t even try. And they would learn about her after this. They would investigate her life, find out who she was, and they would wish she were still alive. They would remember her. They would mourn her. They would talk about and remember her for the rest of their lives.
Lydia also imagines getting caught in the machine. She imagines this often. This is why she likes to stand here. Lydia imagines the gory scene of her head being ripped off, or crushed between the gears because one of her long strands of hair gets caught. She imagines her body breaks the machines and the whole factory eventually goes out of business because of her death. And maybe her family would cash in on a lawsuit. Maybe her nieces and nephews could afford to go to college. Maybe they would always remember their aunt, maybe they’d pay tribute in some way, maybe they’d always remember her well. Maybe the family would always say nice things about her, maybe they would toast cheers to her at every holiday feast.
Lydia’s eyes pop open and she feels a sudden forceful tug at the back of her head. The force of it jerks her backwards, pulling her by the hair. And it snaps a dozen hairs right out of her skull with a pain that comes a moment after. After the shock.
Lydia doesn’t breathe for a moment. She can feel the rush of wind from the massive moving machine next to her. She is deaf to the sound now. Her whole body is focused on the movement. She can feel it shaking in the ground beneath her feet.
Lydia exhales. Her eyes are watering. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom.
Kate E. Lore is the pen name of Kate Isaacs, a resident of Columbus, Ohio, born in Dayton, Ohio. She has published creative nonfiction, flash fiction, and short stories with various literary magazines. Kate has worked for several Ohio publications as a freelance journalist. She also does comics and illustrations both as self-publication and as various anthology features. For more information see www.kateelore.com.