Jessy and the Factory

They said they had pushed the factory a thousand miles to the sea. Its foundations mounted on wheels, those wooden spools, they said, taller than elephants, that the engineers curl up and around the endless wires and rubber organs to the street and the new born sky scrapers.

Its chimneys wobbled when the road broke into patches and when they ground over speed bumps or fallen animals. The highest windows snapped on their hinges, their buckled latches grasping nothing. The furnaces glowed through the gaps in the brickwork and through the frayed paint on the blacked out windows, red iron industry puncturing the creaking evening. The carrion crows gathering on the roadside, tearing at the ground with their beaks, cocking their heads as the factory grumbled past, choking on the earthworm strings of foundry smoke that followed.

They said that they had found the factory in some dog-end suburb of the north. Drawing in the gasps of the bored school yard air. Droning five-iron swings, humming birds and old, rubber strung cassettes. It had blinked its furnace eyes at them as they had approached. Puffed out a complacent chimney full of smoke.

They said the trickiest part was the lifting, they held onto ledges and door handles and corners and attempted to synchronise themselves by yelling down from ten. During the first three tries the over eager prevailed. The south wall of the factory lifting a good while before the rest, everything not welded to the floor inside sent tumbling northwards, the north doors swinging open and the factory, nauseous from its upheaval, vomiting power-tools and workshop benches all over the shale forecourt.

When the factory was finally held evenly above the ground, they all agreed that it was much lighter than they had expected. They juggled with the weight tentatively, passing it between their hands, patting it up and up and up into the air like children playing uncertainly with a balloon.

You had been the first brave enough to throw your side of the factory high above your head. So boldly that it took the others entirely by surprise. It had very nearly somersaulted over itself. They had hopped and clambered around after the vaulting building, crying out, stretching threads in their clothing to catch and steady it. They said that you had all of your laughter leaping out of you, your arms high-risers, your fingers tingling as if you had thrown off all your sleepy worries into the air alongside the factory.

Later when they were trying to balance the building onto its wheels you were laughing so hard that the factory trembled in your hands, its brickwork loosened, stray concrete crumbled free, bloated rats bowled out through its vents and crevices as though they were brown, scraggy tennis balls. They said they all laughed too, clasped with the joy and wilderness of you. Your fierce delight.

You strode out ahead, marching to the rapture beat, the factory followed, pushed by the others who clambered over one another to see you smiling and swinging your arms at the front, twirling your happiness around like a baton.

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