Child Labor Laws

Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.

The museum was dedicated to the history of labor and industry in New England. Their father had complained that it was leaning quietly, imperceptibly Marxist. Free admission and plenty of old Wobby flyers encased under glass.

Milton examined the photo on the wall. Black and white. A woman wearing a long white dress leaning against a terrifying machine that seemed to be a tangle of pipes and bars. She was missing two fingers on her right hand.

“I mean, I grant them that their choices were limited, but I still don’t understand why they stayed. It’s not like somebody had a gun to their heads,” Milton recited.

As he absorbed the picture’s details, he had created a pithy assessment of the situation. His father admired that quality.

Jeanette, his older sister, had her back to him. She was looking at the remnants of the ceramic pots and dishes that the mills had created over a hundred years ago.

“I mean, it’s not like someone had a gun to their heads,” Milton repeated.

“I heard you.”

He placed his fingertips on another black and white photo: immigrant Irish boys covered in grease and dirt, holding wrenches.

“I’m not immune to their situation,” Milton had softened his voice. Sometimes he could be too strident. He freely admitted it.

His sister nodded. She still had her back to him.

“You know me,” he said. “I’m opposed to slavery of any kind.”

“Oh, we’ve always admired that about you, Milton.”

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