The Bright Star Chicken Factory was on the outskirts of Daletown. You passed it on the way out of the township as you headed for the city. The view of it from the road was a few double-storey brick buildings and rows and rows of corrugated iron structures, all surrounded by an endless wire fence.
At a point in the fence there was a gate with a guard. Leanne gave him the code her father had given her and he let her in. Her father had told her that on the first day she would be given a staff card and, once this card was issued, for the rest of her time there she could use the staff entrance.
All members of Leanne’s family worked at Bright Star except the brother above her. A year ago he had saved up enough money to buy himself a flight to Johannesburg and they hadn’t heard from him since. No-one talked about it.
* * * * *
Inside Bright Star, Leanne was getting used to the light, which was different to other fluorescent lights she’d encountered, although she couldn’t say how. She was also getting accustomed to the unpleasant smell. Someone with a badge that said ‘Head Logistics’ had met Leanne, and a few others who were also new, and now he was taking them around the factory. Leanne watched, glad she hadn’t eaten any breakfast because it would not have stayed down.
After the factory tour tasks and uniforms were given out. Leanne put on her green trousers and a button-up long sleeve shirt, and white gumboots, and made her way to what their tour guide had called, ‘the killing floor’.
Seven bells rang out at intervals during the day: teatime, end of teatime, lunchtime, end of lunchtime, second teatime, end of second teatime and home time. It was a strident clang that Leanne, even after her first week at Bright Star, struggled to get used to.
The six consecutive days, and one day off, went by with speed. Work finished at 4 pm and, on arriving home, Leanne collapsed on her bed. She emerged at 6 pm to prepare dinner for the family and collapsed again at 8.30 pm. That was when her fathers and brothers gathered around the TV to watch a ‘something’ match – rugby, cricket, soccer – whatever was going on that day.
Perhaps it was the sheer exhaustion but it took Leanne a week of work before she realised something wasn’t quite right. Deirdre was the one who had incredible dreams; Leanne saw nothing in her sleep. Or if she did dream, she forgot it all when she awoke. But something had changed that first week at Bright Star: she started to dream and remember.
Tell us what you think: Considering all the different things on her mind (her friends and their struggles) what kind of dreams do you think Leanne is having?