A cacophony of noise filled the air: shuffling footsteps and voices drowned out by the whirring of factory machines. Ten-year-old Mary’s fourteen-hour shift had ended. Eighteen cents earned.
Mouse droppings crunched underfoot. Coal dust clung to the air. Ravenous cravings scratched the pit of Mary’s stomach. Staggering into the dark corridor, she tripped, her hand pressing against a cool brass handle.
A tin can sat on a worn table. She grasped it with shaking hands—unable to read the green label.
Returning home, she opened her treasure with a hammer and chisel, scanning the front.
A single tear rolled down.