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Labouring In Vain: A Dark Christmas Story

Updated on August 10, 2016

This is a Christmas Story, with a twist ... a lesson about workaholics ... WARNING: THIS IS A STORY WITH A DARK AMBIANCE TO IT ...


"I am afraid I have some bad news. Your husband has a mistress."


Waiting was nothing new to Mrs. Laboria. She turned on the time and weather channel again, to see if there had been new accidents reported. After checking the doors, and peering out the windows, she settled down unwillingly in the stiff rocking chair, picking up the never-ending parka she was knitting. Up and down and across, up and down and across ... on and on it went, always the same, never changing. Three rows and seven stitches later, a loud thump interrupted her repetitive reverie.

"Well, I'm afraid I have some bad news. Your husband has a mistress, Mrs. Laboria," her guest at the door blurted out. "The reason he's never home is that his home belongs elsewhere."

She stood silently -- the words a blur to her ears and to her heart. She waited for him to go on.

Thanks to Matito for use of this image.
Thanks to Matito for use of this image. | Source

His Mistress Is His Job

"His mistress is his job, his work. He is more tied to it than he ever would be to any woman. I am so sorry, Ma'am. I know this isn't easy. I have to be going."

She watched him leave and stood mute staring into the darkness.

"Well," she thought, "I didn't need a private investigator to tell me that! But I've never looked at in exactly that way before ... hmmm... work a mistress ... what a fitting metaphor."

Mrs. Laboria decided that she would go down to "the mistress," and reclaim her man from the competing interest in her mate's life. Even if it was only for tonight -- Christmas Eve -- she would be the one he would be with. Long nights with no one to talk to and whole weekends of boredom were her fate, but tonight -- Christmas night -- she would have the man she married at home.

"She tried waving, but her husband did not seem to notice her"

Visitors Were Not Allowed

The General Motors plant had no lights on, except one when Mrs. Laboria pulled up. She used her access card to get in and passed through the now quiet halls to Secion D. This is where they made the transmissions for all the models of GMC. Her husband had started here No. 3 cogman, but had been promoted through the ranks to Computer Operator No. 5. His job and his computer had taken the place of most of the men he had started off working with.

Visitors to the plant were not allowed on the factory floor, but there was an intercom system available from the viewing room high above the room of machines. As Mrs. Laboria neared the window pane, she spotted the bolt apparatus on the third chamber. She tried waving, but her husband did not seem to notice her. It appeared that he had gone out on the floor to some repairs on the machine he operated by computer.

"Although perfectly normal for the machine, it was a strange movement for a man to make."

Up Down and Around

As she watched, she saw that he appeared to be imitating one of the parts of the machine, by moving his arm up, down, and around in exact rhythm to the bolt tightener. Although perfectly normal for the machine, it was a strange movement for a man to make.

His arm and shoulder appeared to be disconnected from the rest of his body, like a mechanical arm. Up and down, and around ... up down around. The movement was so hypnotic that it took a minute for Mrs. Laboria to comprehend the absurdity of her husbands's actions.

"Jerry, are you okay? What are you doing?" She shouted through the microphone. Usually, when she used the intercom system, he would respond to her through his corresponding microphone at his computer station, but not this time. I

Instead, he kept moving his arm ... up down and around. Up down and around. Jule Laboria thought that maybe he hadn't heard because the volume wasn't high enough. She cranked the sound as high as possible, and shouted, "Honey, please stop working and come home with me to Christmas!" The loudspeaker was so loud that a cake of dust blew off the left-hand speaker. There was no way he could not have heard the voice.

Image Copyright Ashley Dace. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence
Image Copyright Ashley Dace. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence | Source

"He almost seemed to be part of the machine."

Part of the Machine

There was no change in his movement. Julie looked around in vain to see if there might be some stray worker who might be able to investigate, and see what was going on. When she turned to look at her husband again, he seemed to be changing colour. His shirt looked silverish - and so did his hair. His legs, too, were seeming to be more and more square. He almost seemed to be part of the machine.

Julie looked away, blaming fatigue and frustration for causing her to have hallucinations. When she looked again, his eyes looked like opening for bolts, and his legs seemed to be bolted to the ground! In fact, she wasn't even sure if it was for him until he noticed a blue tie wrapped around some metal. His arms were still moving in perfect timing ... up down and around.

Julie saw that she no longer had a husband. It was too bad. She had so much wished that he would come home for Christmas. She turned to go ... she would pick up Chinese food on the way home. (He hated Chinese food, and never let her have it. ) She would miss her husband terribly, but she was already used to being alone. She had grieved for over twenty years for the husband she had wished she had: now it was time to live.


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    • NanahoChan profile image

      Noshin Rahman 2 years ago from Canada

      Well, that was an enjoyable read while it lasted, very eerie too. I don't usually see many stories on Hubpages, I thought people mainly used it for how to guides so they earn more traffic. I think I've been inspired to write my own little short story!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      interesting story, learning lots of stuff from this hub, voted up

    • profile image 5 years ago

      Thank you Princess - sorry about the mis-spelling: I do know the difference between 'tale' and 'tail'. Although with your Hub, it might be about the tail wagging the dog . . .


    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Quester, so true! We pay for the sins of our fathers, because we don't learn from them. Wonderful comment, and that song is a such a great example to illustrate this point. Thanks for the comment, and for adding your insight to this hub. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    • profile image 5 years ago

      Cat Stevens has a song...I Want To Be Just Like You, Dad"

      It tells the tail of losing one's children to work and then they lose theirs - generation on generation.

      good hub

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Light, I believe it!

    • profile image

      Light.of.sitmoia2 6 years ago

      I learned A LOT!


    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Light, it is a temptation for many of us, I think, to put too much into our careers, at the expense of loved ones. I had seen it in someone I loved, and that is what moved me to write the story, a few years back. Thank you for sharing, and it sounds like you have had some painful experiences. Take care.

    • profile image

      Light.of.sitmoia2 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing...I understand your feelings...I'm a 'work-aholic' myself, though...I had a job that I loved and put all of myself into it and for me, my 'passion', my additional 'reason for being' was my work for my employer and his 'clients.' I thought nothing about giving and putting 200% into it. I became totally absorbed into making sure things were done to the best of abilities. It was, after all, a job that I was able to help and make a difference with...and even had the potential to really making a difference for others in the near future.

      And my devotion to my work, which was eventually 'used against me' (so to speak) cost me everything!

      Thanks for writing this very profound piece, indeed.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Samsons, thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Take care!

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 6 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and beautiful! Well written and enticing. I was captivated and could not stop til the end.

      Welcome to HubPages...

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      SJerZGirl, thank you so much for reading, and commenting! Take care!

    • profile image

      SJerZGirl 6 years ago

      Eerie, yet excellent!!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Tammy: thank you so much for the comment ... I did feel after I published it that it had a horror feeling to it, although that was not my thought when I first wrote this story. This is different than anything else that I have written.

      Flobe: Thank you for the comment. It is interesting that you picked up on the sadness because I wrote this several years ago in response to the sadness my Mom felt when my Father worked all the time. It is kind of tongue-in-cheek but also very sad. Thank you ...

      coffeesnob: Thank you so much for your comment, and you make such a good point. It is so true that anything we make too much of it can become an idol, and separate us from the ones that we love. Take care!

    • profile image

      coffeesnob 6 years ago

      Actually this piece is quite profound. It is a deep truth that often we can can so caught up in things like work or even sports or shopping or hobbies and that "thing" has the potential to identify us. And so much so to the point of we think we are that thing. Ask someone, "Who are you" and they are likely to tell you what they do.

    • FloBe profile image

      FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      How very sad! It seems the case for many men (and now also women, sad to say) that work seems to take precedence over relationships. With so much emphasis put on getting to know ourselves, we put much less effort into getting to know what matters most to those we love. Well written.

    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      That sounds like a story from "The Twilight Zone".