Made in Hong Kong (Friday Fictioneers, April 2013)

 

Copyright Janet Webb

Apologies to all those Friday Fictioneers whose stories I didn’t get to read and comment on last week; I was rushing to catch a plane to Spain.  This week I’m rushing to catch one back again.  😦   And I’ll try to do better when I get back to England.

The walls between our units were paper thin; next door the thump of heavy-duty machines heralded the birth of belts and handbags, whilst in here makeshift power connections flickered and sparked above production lines foaming with tawdry silk underwear.

It was a living.

Today, above the yellow smog that wreathes the island, fat-cats cruise in silver birds across a cerulean arc.  Hundreds of souls drift between the high-rise buildings, watching the Star Ferries butt relentlessly across the greasy grey sea with their human cargoes.

The walls between our units were paper thin; when the fire started we never stood a chance.



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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Made in Hong Kong (Friday Fictioneers, April 2013)

  1. zookyworld says:

    A sad story — and a creative response to go from the sections in the wasp’s nest to thin-walled units. I hope you had a great time in Spain!

    Like

  2. Dear Sandra,
    Your story is masterfully written. You made me see, hear, smell and feel in 100 words. I love the way you stepped way outside the box. Stunning use of the prompt with only “paper thin walls.”
    Beautiful,
    shalom,
    Rochelle

    Like

  3. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    This is one of your best ever. Lulls the reader then slams them between the eyes with a sledge hammer at the end. Wow.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Like

  4. Okay, I keep reading it, and it’s amazingly wonderfully descriptively abstractly abstruse with a hard-hitting punchline, and what strikes me as a humorous or mocking title. So it’s something about working in Hong Kong, the city-scape, living there, and unfortunately dying there because of the nature the way the paper-thin places are built.

    Like

  5. Each week I ponder how to say how much I like what you did with the prompt. Maybe I should just link to previous comments and let you re-read them. Reminiscent of the factory fires earlier in history as well. Lovely writing bringing to life a terrible disaster. Glad you made to Spain and pray you make the one home easily and have a safe trip.

    janet

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you Janet, glad you enjoyed it. A bumpy flight home, both of us suffering from flu as had been the case since before we left. Glad to be home now for a quieter life.

      Like

  6. writeondude says:

    Well done, Sandra. Excellent as usual, I can see the workshops vividly.

    Like

  7. claireful says:

    So poignant, especially with the repitition of that line. And although I’ve never been, it feels like you’ve really captured the essence of a place.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I know of others who really love HK, and I was prepared to do so. Just didn’t happen for me, I found it so bleak. We were there on a recce as there was a likelihood of my husband being transferred there. Fortunately there was a re-think and we went to South Africa. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  8. Carrie says:

    This screams sweat shops in New York…early 20th century.

    Love it

    Like

  9. Anne Orchard says:

    Your story really made me think this week Sandra. I had to work hard to see the meaning, which is no bad thing. I thought it summed up the exploitation of people one country to satisfy the consumption of another. More of a dying than a living in this case.

    Like

  10. tedstrutz says:

    You are not talking to yourself, Sandra. Nice imagery… made me think of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

    Like

  11. Joe Owens says:

    I certainly did not see tha gruesome end coming as you drew me in.

    Like

  12. JKBradley says:

    Capitalisms dirty little secret.

    Like

  13. Mystikel says:

    Very well written and a good reminder of the price others pay to give the west cheap goods.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I think Taiwan has probably taken over from HK in this respect, but I didn’t have personal experience to draw upon from there. Thanks for dropping by.

      Like

  14. 40again says:

    Superb.
    Safe journey
    Dee

    Like

  15. Lyn says:

    “fat-cats cruise in silver birds across a cerulean arc” Fantastic!

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I don’t like using the word ‘cerulean’ – it sounds overblown to me, but ‘azure’ didn’t hit the spot and ‘blue’ sounded a bit… well ordinary.

      Like

  16. JulesPaige says:

    Reminds me of the Triangle Factory fire. Unfortunately not all countries, even today follow safety protocols.

    I did want to thank you for your photo the other week. But I guess while you were away you didn’t write on that piece? Travel safely.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Jules, thanks for reading. I did write on my own photo (Uncle Oscar’s Flight of Fantasy) just before I left. I’d find it hard to stay away from FF 🙂

      Like

    • Sandra says:

      Some ghosts just won’t lie down and er… well .. be quiet. Spain was lovely, warmer than the UK where again this morning we’ve woken up to a thick icing of frost. Brrr!

      Like

  17. Shreyank says:

    vivid description… loved it.. 🙂

    Like

  18. Sandra says:

    Fantastically written, great imagery with a punch-in-the-gut twist at the end. This is one of my favourite yet, Sandra, and I always like your stories.

    Like

  19. Sandra, wow! You never disappoint, not will you. Fantastically told and heck of an ending.

    Like

  20. unspywriter says:

    I like the circular aspect of this story–beginning and ending with the “paper thin walls.” In between is an incredibly visual depiction of the haves and the have-nots. Very well done.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/empty-nest-optimism/

    Like

  21. elappleby says:

    Back to the dark side again this week, then! I loved this, some fantastic phrases in here – I particularly liked the ‘greasy grey sea’. Great stuff.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      How easily I drift back…. 😦 I remember looking out at the sea from a restaurant by the water’s edge and first thinking that the water looked greasy. It’s a description I’ve used several times since.

      Like

  22. Beautiful, Sandra. You inspire me. You weaved a complex, rich story here. I loved all your visually descriptive words.

    Like

  23. Chilling and very well written

    Like

  24. Parul says:

    Very nice use of the prompt – a sad story but a sadder reality for many.

    Like

  25. Trudy says:

    The paper thin walls and the plight of these workers is going to stay with me for some time. A haunting tale, beautifully written.

    Like

  26. kz says:

    wow a really powerful story. so masterfully told.

    Like

  27. Linda Vernon says:

    The greasy gray sea I loved too. This story paints such a vivid picture of different lives and what the struggles are.

    Like

  28. Sandra – This is a wonderful piece. Beautifully written. I think of these sweatshop factories using child labor every time I purchase or order on-line a piece of clothing and see the tag…”Made in China” or “Made in Taiwan”…I cringe and often feel guilty wearing the item.

    Like

  29. jenniesisler says:

    Love your interpretation of the prompt and how you took the often overlooked aspect of the hive – the paper thin construction – and made it the central idea in your plot. Most of the rest of us focused on the bees…

    Like

  30. The story and the language is masterful. Very sad and poetic.. I really agree with all the positive acclaim above.

    Like

  31. Great story. You did a great job taking me somewhere I’ve never been.

    Like

  32. Sandra says:

    Thanks Monica! 🙂

    Like

  33. I love “the paper thin walls”, and the title.

    Like

  34. Wow, that was some great description, even if the ending was sad. I loved it.

    Like

  35. Sarah Ann says:

    This is very powerful and has left me thinking.

    Like

I'd love to hear your views; it reassures me I'm not talking to myself.

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