Sneak Peek :
“You ready?” Gladys asked as they took their place on the line. Gladys was her bucker today. The burly woman worked opposite Ava, taking her rivets and smoothing them out. It was harder work and Gladys’s large size explained why she was doing the job. Riveting wasn’t as bad as people made it seem, you just had to have a good eye.
“As ready as I could possibly be, Gladys.” She tried to force a smile but it was hot work, the shield that she held over her was all she had to protect her. She had asked for goggles, but there was a shortage and women in the munitions factories needed them more. So she was told by the shift matron.
She took her gun and pressed it to the metal plate, riveting and working, her bucker sawing and smoothing off the underside of the rivets. It was hot work, the lack of ventilation and the heavy machinery causing sweat to spring up out of her pores and drip through her overalls. Her turban caught a good deal of the sweat from her forehead. But not enough and at times the sting of it in her eyes was fierce. God dammit. Why can’t they turn on a fan?
When they were finished with one they hit the button and sent it down the line, only to receive yet another panel. The work didn’t stack up, for she was a competent riveter and Gladys a good bucker. But by the end of the shift she was tired and it took all she had to work panel after panel.
Ava looked up to see a group of soldiers walking through the plant, the shift matron talking to each of them. They had a clipboard in their hands, writing notes and checking things off. She had seen a couple of these groups come through the factory in the short week and a half she had been employed. The Cartney Corporation liked to keep its clients involved in the process of bomber creation.
They were, after all, the ones who flew the things into harm’s way and dropped the bombs other women were making them in other factories.
A particular soldier caught her eye, his dark hair and olive skin something she couldn’t help but stare at. When his darker than brown eyes met hers she almost dropped her riveter. He tipped his hat and cocked a smile, looking right back at the shift matron. It took her breath away and she almost lost her concentration.
“Dunn, pay attention. We don’t got all day. Shift’s almost over.” Gladys brought her attention back to the work at hand.
She went back to work, but his face stayed there. Burned into her brain.
“You going to the social tonight?” Ava ventured as she worked through the last half hour of her shift. She needed something to keep her focused. At attention.
“Down at the dance hall?” Gladys asked her eyebrow raised.
“Legion is sponsoring.” Gosh, why is she looking at me like I grew a third eye?
“Yeah, I’m going. You going?” Gladys was still suspicious as she looked the riveter up and down.
It left Ava wishing she hadn’t asked.
“I am. I hear there are lots of soldiers at those things.” She tried to keep her tone light. Pop. Another rivet. Then another.
“There are, handsome ones too. If you are into that sort of thing.” Gladys was suddenly gruff. Her eyebrows drawn.
The burly girl had a personality to match.
Ava sighed and sent up a silent prayer when her shift bell rang and another woman came and grabbed the gun from her, continuing the work in another shift. She almost took out of there in a run, wanting to shower all the chemicals off her body before she went back to the boarding house to change.
The grime of the factory got on her skin. It wasn’t the same as working in laundry, each piece of grit stuck to her. Clung to her like it was grasping at the straws of life. A shower. That is just what I need.
Ava trotted into the locker room and immediately began undressing. She started with her turban, unfolding and shaking it out then moved on to the rest of her clothing. Grabbing a towel she wrapped it around herself and hurried into the mass shower along with several other women.
She was thankful as the hot water washed over her, taking the soot and dirt from the factory and washing it down the drain. It was freeing to watch all her work just wash away.
She tried not to look at the women around her, but she couldn’t help it. She was curious about the different women that surrounded her. Most were strong, the war had made them strong, their soft curves and thin frames had been replaced by something steadier. More solid. But there was still a good amount of variance.
On the plumper side of the workers, Ava had soft curves that were on top of strong, hefty muscle. She wasn’t a frail thing, but she wasn’t a burly woman either. And her short stature and slightly upturned nose made her that much more feminine. A perfect balance of muscle and beauty for wartime.
With a final rinse Ava finished her shower and smiled. She felt good. Ready for her first time out.
“Hey Ava, did I get it all?” Edythe called to her pointing to her face. The woman was absolutely covered in grit. Her body was thick and curvy, almost as thick as Ava’s but not quite. It was rather attractive. She tried not to let her stare linger.
“I think you may want to spend a little more time in the wash,” She said as she pushed through the women, grabbing her towel and wrapping it around her.
“There was a little… mishap in quality control today. Thanks hun.” Edythe went right back to scrubbing.
Ava hurried out of there and stepped into her street clothing, a smart tweed dress ensemble that wasn’t winning any awards, but it was smart. Her momma had made it for her as a gift, right before she had left. She smoothed it out and pinned a hat to her hair. She only had a few hours before the dance started and she wanted to make the best of it.