Abigail's Story

October 3, 2008
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The sun shines through the windows. I breathe in the crisp, cool smell of fresh morning air. The sweet sounds of the birds chirping their morning songs whisper in my ears. It is yet another perfect day. I wake up out of my gorgeous, frilly white bed, and with a gigantic smile, I choose an outfit from millions of outfits in my enormous closet. I prance down the hall to the restroom, and I wash my perfect, flawless face and brush my smooth, gorgeous golden brown hair. Once I look fantastic, I skip down the mahogany stairs to find a hearty breakfast, my sisters, Samantha (13 years old) and Elizabeth (four years old), my brothers, Alexander (16 years old) , Jonathan (eight years old), and Samuel (nine years old), and my parents, Joseph and Caroline at the table.
“So nice of you to finally get up, sis,” snickers Samuel (Sam for short) as I approach the table.
“Pa! What’s wrong? Why aren’t you outside? What’s going on?” I ask confused.
“We just have a bit of a problem, Abbi,” he replies, obviously very prepared to tell us something important.
“Well, what is the problem? I didn’t notice any thing wrong. I still have all my gorgeous riches and room. Nothing is missing. There isn’t anything wrong, Pa!” I exclaim.
“Yes, Pa. There isn’t anything wrong,” Samantha (Sammi) and Jonathan (Jon) agree.
“Well, your ma and I have been trying our best to keep your lives as normal as possible even though we are going through the least normal problem right now, and sensing that you kids didn’t have a clue anything was wrong, your ma and I did a pretty good job.” Pa explains. “Children, we are in a major family crisis. Our world is going to be turned upside down.”
“Right now, we are going through a time called the Industrial Revolution. Factories and machines are being created by the minute. Machinery is replacing workers. Large scale agricultural companies are replacing small farms,” Ma explains hesitantly.

“What does this revolution have to do with anything?” I question.

“Yeah, Papa. What does the revolution have to do with the problem?” shrieks Elizabeth (Lizzi).

“Well, our farm, although it is very successful and business booming, is relatively small compared to these companies. I know we are gigantic compared to other farms, but these companies are enormous, monstrous, and efficient. We may be replaced. Actually, we’ve already started to be replaced.” Pa explains.

“So, let me get this straight. We’re being thrown out of business because these companies are replacing us. And, we’re becoming poorer and poorer as we speak! Soon, we’re all going to have to go work in disgusting, teeny, horrendous factories and move to the city! We’ll become dirty, ugly, and filthy beggars!” I shriek.

I start hyperventilating because this couldn’t be happening to me, Abigail Johnson, the rich girl who has everything. I feel my mother’s fragile, tiny arms surround me as my eyes well up with tears.

“I’m so sorry this is happening, children, but I can stop it. I’m sorry. But, we have to do something about the matter, or else, we’ll all be dead, so I found everyone some jobs in the city. So, we’re moving to the city.” Pa tells us, his voice shaky and unconfident.

Alexander (Alex) has been pretty quiet up till the point about moving in which he screams, “What! Pa! We can go to the city! What about our farm? What about all our friends? What about all our belongings?”

“Yes, Pa. We can’t move to the city,” Sammi agrees.

“I’m sorry children, but we don’t have a choice. So let me explain what is going to happen.” he stammers.

He explains various details.
Ma whispers in my ear, “It’s going to be alright, Abbi. Just be good, listen to Mrs. Johann, and take care of your sister.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t leave me family. I didn’t want to be good! I thrust myself from my mother’s arms and run upstairs to my room, tears streaming down my pretty face. I feel so hopeless. This is not how my life is supposed to turn out! All I can do is cry. Seriously, Pa will work in a car factory. Ma and Sammi will work in a candy factory. Alex, Sam, and Jon will work in a shoe factory, and I will work in a shoe factory for young girls that are ten to twelve years old. Since no one is able to take Lizzi with them, except me, I will have to watch and take care of Lizzi as well! Lizzi, who just turned four years old, will work under my supervisor, Mrs. Johann. She will not do work that is as hard as mine, but she will do simple jobs for Mrs. Johann. Also, we will work everyday, except Sunday! I haven’t even worked for 2 hours straight before. How was I supposed to do this impossible task? The only hope I could find in this mess is that on Sundays, I will be able to see my family. I must have fallen asleep sometime in my mourning because I wake up to sunshine streaming through my windows. My eyes are swollen from all the crying. Pa tells us to pack, which brings tears to my eyes again. It’s amazing that there are still tears left.
Finally, near the end of the day, Pa takes us to the city, Manhattan, leaving behind our beloved farm. Pa drops me and Lizzi off at the factory, and I enter the hard, ugly grey doors with Lizzi gripping my hand.
“Good evening. You must be Abigail, and you must be Elizabeth. I’m Mrs. Johann. You have just entered the Textile Factory. You’re late.” Mrs. Johann screeched.
“We’re very sorry, m’am,” I replied, squeezing Lizzi’s hand even harder.
Mrs. Johann leads me and Lizzi to our teeny room that is shared with 2 other girls. It is so small that there is barely any room to stand. It is unbelievably tiny! How am I supposed to share with two other girls?
Mrs. Johann continues, “You will get 3 meals a day, unless one is taken away from for misbehavior. You will work from eight am to eight pm with a 45 minute break for lunch. You will start working tomorrow. Don’t be late. Your uniform is in the bottom drawer. If you have any further questions, ask another girl. As of now, get settled and lights out at 9:30 pm.”
“Yes, m’am,” I reply, scared and agitated by her scrawny voice.
Once she is gone, I put away all my packed things and get ready for bed. Around 8:30 pm, 2 girls straggle in.
“Oh hey! You must be our new roommate,” welcomes a girl with short brown hair, an average height, and a skinny body. “I’m Mary.”
“And I’m Jessica,” introduces a tall girl with long blonde curls and an even skinner body.
They both wore hideous white dresses, aprons, distressed smiles, and dirt all over their face.
“I’m Abigail, but you can call me Abbi,” I reply. “Oh! This is my sister, Lizzi.”
“Hey, Lizzi. Are you going to stay here too?” Jessica asks.
“Yes. I’m going to sleep, eat, and work here, but not like you girls. I’m going to work for Mrs. Johann, herself,” Lizzi replies proudly.
“Well, you guys can sleep here,” Mary announces while pointing at an empty bed.
“Ew! Why are the beds so small and dirty?” I whine.
“Be thankful that you even have a bed to sleep on,” Jessica snapped.
The next day, I wake up to the sound of loud bells. Jessica and Mary are already up doing their hair.
“Breakfast in 20 minutes,” Mary called out.
“I think I’ll skip,” I mutter.
“Alright. Suit yourself, but you’re going to be hungry,” Jessica tells me haughtily.
I am awakened again by even louder bells. No one is here, not even Lizzi. I straggle out of bed and go downstairs, after changing into the hideous uniform.
Mrs. Johann yells, “Ms. Johnson, you’re an hour late! Don’t make this a habit. No lunch for you! Even your sister was here 15 minutes early!”
She hurriedly pushes me through a metal door that leads to a stinky, crowded room filled with machinery, girls, rats, and dust.
“Get to work over there! Ms. Smith will show you what to do,” Mrs. Johann orders.
So I jog over there to a short girl with long black hair.
“Hi. I’m Susan. Here’s what you do,” Susan welcomes showing me quick, graceful hand movements. I couldn’t keep up with her even if I wanted to. I ended cutting my finger.
“Ow!” I wailed.
“Get to work Ms. Johnson!” Mrs. Johann bellows.
I grumble and try again to do my job correctly.
After a long, hard, impossible week, Mrs. Johann hates me, I usually get only 1 meal per day, all the other girls hate me because I’m too snobby, Lizzi is tired and exhausted, and it is time to see my loving family.
They pick me and Lizzi up at 11:30 am with outstretched arms, pale faces, and smiles.
“My babies!” Ma exclaims as she runs towards us embracing us in a huge hug.
I begin crying so my mother says, “Abbi, darling. What’s wrong?”
“Ma. Hold me tighter. Never let me go,” I cry.
“Darling, tell me. What happened?” she asks.
Then the entire story comes spilling out, from Mrs. Johann, to the girls, to the work.
“Oh. My poor baby girl. But look at me. You must do something, darling. You need to take action. You need to first apologize to everyone for being mean and annoying. Then, you need to stop whining and complaining and work very hard, as good as you can. Alright, darling. If you work hard to do what is right, you will be rewarded.” Ma tells me.

I take those words into deep consideration, and they are still in my head when I doze off to sleep after a great day with my family. The next day, I wake up bright and early and go to breakfast. I stop every single girl I see an apology and a chance to start over. All the girls are really nice about the matter.
After breakfast, I walk to Mrs. Johann’s office, and I apologize to her as well. She is extremely nice about it, as well, and tells me to just work hard starting today. Everything is going great. As I step into the work room, I find my spot next to Susan. I ask and relearn how to do my job. It isn’t as hard as I thought it would be! I work long and hard to the best of my ability, and I feel sweat trickle down my forehead in the stuffy room.

My days pass incredible fast. In between work and play, I hardly notice the great amount of time passing by. A couple months later, Mrs. Johanna stops me after work.

“Abigail, I have notice how hard you work and how dedicated you are. I am getting old and tired, so I am appointing you to watch over the ten through eleven year old girls in the lower work room. Okay? You will still have to work, but you will have another job as will. You will get paid double of what you’re paid now,” says Mrs. Johann.

I calmly accept, and I’ve become a co-supervisor. I have a celebratory party in my room with Mary, Jessica, Lizzi, and me as we dance and jump around until lights out. Om is right. Hard work is rewarded.

The days fly by and two years later, I am the co- supervisor for the entire factory! I have saved up a lot of money. I’m hoping I can save enough to buy back our farm. So, the next weekend, I talk to Alex (now 19 years old), Sammi (16 years old), Sam (12 years old), Jon (11 years old), and Lizzi (seven years old).

“Hey guys. Don’t you want to buy back our farm and leave these factories once and for all? Well then, let’s combine all our money and see if we have enough to back the farm.” I explain.

So everyone pitches in, and we gather enough money to buy the farm back with a couple extra thousand dollars left! So, Alex drives us over to our farm and buys it back. We approach Ma and Pa, the next day, to tell them the news.

“What! You guys bought the farm back? We can go home!” my ma exclaims happily.

So, we plan to head home next week. I work harder than ever and before I know it, it’s the end of the week. Saying goodbyes is harder than I imagined. I realize that I truly loved these people as I hugged Mary and Jessica’s small bodies for hours.

Finally, Sunday arrives, and my family and I return home. We immediately start working to get the farm running again. Everyone is doing everything they can. I work long and hard every day, and one night, we finally reach our goal. It is the best day ever. The Johnson farm is back in business!

That night, as I lay in bed, I realize how much I’ve changed. 3 year ago, if you said I was going to work my butt off to survive, I would have laughed. 3 years ago, if you mentioned working for two measly hours, I would have protested and complained. It’s hard to imagine that I worked in a small, disgusting factory for three years. Who knew this would happen to me? But, I’m glad it did, or else, I would have never gotten to experience anything in my life, with all its ups and its downs.

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