by Marcia Moston
Soraya Rasheeb closed her mind to the metallic stench of blood and raw meat that settled on her hair and lined her nostrils. She plunged her latex-gloved hand into the cavity of the chicken and tugged at its innards before the conveyor belt delivered the next clammy carcass.
“Listen, Sugar, this isn’t exactly the fine jewelry department at Macys. I ain’t gonna get my black butt fired cuz of you. Yank them things out of there and get goin’.”Sweat beaded on Latisha’s smooth dark skin. She was one of the women from the shelter who was thankful to have landed a job, even if it was at the chicken factory. Next to her was Lori. Both were rebuilding lives that had been shattered by drugs, men or misfortune.
Soraya nodded and pushed the chicken down the line. She remembered a time when strands of fine jewelry had slid through her fingers, when someone else cooked her meals and washed her clothes, a time when … she pushed the memory away. It was best forgotten. They were all refugees of one sort or another now.
A commotion snapped her out of her reverie.
“Hey, whatcha doin? You okay?”
A silver-haired woman stumbled away from her spot in line. Her slurred words incoherent. She swayed and then fell onto the conveyor belt, her hand catching in the rollers before the emergency switch shut down. Blood squirted from her wrist as she lay unconscious.
A yelled, “Someone Help her!” failed to mobilize the shocked group standing there in their white paper jackets and hair nets. “Can’t somebody do something?”
Slowly, like an emerging photo in dark room, a memory surfaced, took form, propelled Soraya Rasheeb, gifted doctor from Kabul Afghanistan, to action.