The job at the button factory was the best thing that had ever happened to her, she told herself while standing in front of the conveyor belt. It was full of buttons, white today, traveling by at a constant but manageable speed. During the two months she’d been working there, she’d noticed that the black ones were much more prone to flaws than the white ones, so she was feeling pretty relaxed today.
When had white buttons on a conveyor belt become her definition of a good day? She found herself dreaming back to happier times. Being a quality control inspector at a button factory hadn’t always been her dream. In fact, it still wasn’t. At one time in her life she had made it a point to follow her dreams, wherever they may take her. And they had taken her to some pretty amazing places.
She’d seen the world, traveled as a groupie with a band, living off their good will and repaying them with favors of the more physical kind. Then she’d backpacked through Europe, living under the stars and making new friends in every city. When it rained in Rome, she left for Madrid. When winter came in Europe, she chatted up an older man at the airport, then told him about her dying niece in Australia, whom she would never get to see again because she didn’t have the money for a plane ticket. She spent the summer on Bondi Beach, getting cozy with one of the lifeguards.
She was in Mexico when she met Ricardo. She fell head over heels, madly in love with him, and him with her. Even now, standing at the production line, she remembered him so vividly. His deep laughter, his kind eyes. They were like magic together. They danced and partied all night long. Alcohol and drugs were plentiful, and the physical attraction palpable. In her mind’s eye she could still see his tousled hair, and her own pleasure painted on his skin in blushing crescent shapes.
It all came to a sudden stop that fateful day three years ago. He’d asked her for a small favor, and she had said yes, her love and trust in him infinite. It had only been a few pounds, tightly wrapped around her thighs and belly. She had been so sure it wasn’t visible that she was carrying anything, but they still knew. Ricardo had come to see her during her trial, and told her he would deal with it; he would take care of it.
But now, three years into her twenty-five-year sentence in a Mexican women’s prison, she had landed a job, a privilege only a handful of inmates were given. She was allowed to leave the prison for ten hours every day, heavily shackled, travelling in a secure bus. But for a few minutes each day, she got to see the sky outside of the prison.
Yes, this job at the button factory was the best thing that had ever happened to her. Inspecting buttons on a conveyor belt would make the next twenty-two years go by so much faster.
This post is part of Nicky and Mike’s 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing challenge. Today’s prompt is Deal with it. Go check out We Work For Cheese for a list of the other participants. *