Today felt like a dream. Except this time it wasn’t a dream. That same, recurring dream which left me breathless on so many nights, and now it had happened. That dream which always seemed to be lodged in my mind, yet somehow I didn’t quite believe would ever happen. Even now I can’t quite come to believe it. It was this dream which drove me to working so hard, which I fought to suppress through those weeks on strike. And now I start to wonder, should I have listened to that dream?
Thoughts rush through my head and flood my mind, so fast I can hardly think. So many questions had been left unanswered, and now they dawned on me. And there is still one question which troubles me most, why did Birling have to sack me, along with 4 other ‘ring leaders’, but no-one else? Why me? I didn’t see myself as a ‘ring leader’. I was one of their best workers, or so I was told. I could easily argue with myself day and night, but I would only end up exactly where I started.
Almost three weeks ago it started. We, the workers, had recently come back from the holidays, and we were all strapped for cash. We had already had thoughts of a strike, and we all knew that Birling was underpaying us for the amount of work we did. We were averaging around twenty-two and six each week, only just enough to survive on. We all felt we deserved more, so we could average about twenty-five shillings a week.
Obviously, Birling did not share our views, dismissing them without a second thought. It wasn’t much we were asking for, and it was all we wanted. It was stupid for us to think he might have considered it, we all knew how he would react, the selfish man he is. So we decided to go on strike. The strike didn’t last long really, only a couple of weeks, as I said we were all practically broke.
Today was the day we started back at the machine shop, and it felt the same as any other day. In fact, I was little hopeful we might get the raise. My hopes rose even more when I was called into Birling’s office. What seemed like seconds later I was distraught with anger and emotion. Beads of salty water rolled down my face, as I stood motionless in the small room. I suddenly felt as if I were all alone on this world, as if it were just me, alone. My worst fears had just turned to reality. I had been sacked, but for what? “You’ve had a lot to say lately – far too much.” That was how Birling put it, and that could mean anything.
I suppose I should start looking for a new job. I don’t know how I’ll be able to get one now though, with this record.
Today really made me feel (cursed?). I’m trying to convince myself that I am not some sort of sick joke, put into this miserable world just to be laughed at. That’s what it feels like right now. As soon as I find a stable, job, something to live for, they instinctively find some senseless excuse to sack me. What else do I have to live for now? Questions like this are overflowing my mind, but all I can think of is what actually happened.
They didn’t give me a genuine excuse for sacking me in the letter I received this morning, although I’m absolutely sure where it started. And who was the instigator this time? Mr. Birling’s daughter, that’s who. She can’t have known that her father had sacked me; I don’t think she even heard my name when it happened. I guess getting me sacked must just run in their family.
The day started out as any other, working in Milwards. I quite well known, respectable customer had entered, as it was my job to attend to her. She was a young, pretty girl and at the time I didn’t know who she or her mother was. The assistant, Ms Francis, had brought a dress up that had been waiting for the young woman. Ms Francis asked me to hold it up against myself, to show her how she should wear it. I thought it looked rather good in it myself, and it suited me well. It definitely did not suit Miss Birling. She went to put it on, and when she came back you could tell from her expression she knew it didn’t look right. Then, whilst Miss Birling was admiring herself in the mirror I merely whispered to the assistant, “would have looked nicer on me” or something like that, more joking than anything else.
Miss Birling must have caught me giggling in the mirror, as she turned around and was absolutely furious with me. She took is extremely seriously and completely the wrong way. I think she must have been jealous in some way, watching me hold up the dress like that she must have thought I could take care of myself. Perhaps if I were a plain little girl, she wouldn’t have done it. But she did. She must have gone to the manager, complaining that I was not showing respect, being rude even. And then she would have exploited her power as the daughter of a good customer and of a well known businessman, to essentially make sure that I got the letter which dropped through my letter box this morning, to get me sacked.
Now what do I have? Nothing. Nothing to live for, nobody to turn to. Now, sitting here, I don’t know what to do. What can I do? A fresh start is what I need, a new identity.
I knew it would happen. Deep down I had known all along that it couldn’t last. As much as I longed for us to be together, it was always inevitable. But now, slumped on a desk in a room that isn’t even mine, my weak heart hardly able to beat inside my chest, my eyes bloodshot and swollen through hours of crying, I still cant come to grips with it. He has gone. Disappeared from my life completely. I had been brave at the time, but now it feels as if the whole world has come crashing down upon me, and my emotions are running riot. I can’t even whisper his name under my breath, and I don’t know why.
I thought he had loved me, I’m sure he did love me, but not as I loved him. What is love? Love has no boundaries, though he gave us that boundary. But what is the sense if giving a boundary to all that, of giving a name a ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? Beyond that I do not know. All I am sure of is what happened between us.
We met almost six months ago now, March this year. My pockets were empty and I had no other choice than to go down to the Palace Stalls Bar, to try to earn a little money. I was incredibly reluctant at first, but what else could I do? I had no chance of getting another decent job. It was worse than my fears had imagined. Old Joe Meggarty had wedged me into a corner, his fat sweaty hands searching all over me. It was then when I saw a handsome, kind looking man gazing into my eyes. I caught his gaze and he knew it was a cry for help. He came over to the old man and told him some nonsense – that the manager had a call for him or something like that.
He said I should never have been loitering around in a place like that, with people like Alderman Meggarty around. He rushed me off to the Country Hotel, where he bought me a few drinks and we talked. We talked for hours and hours, and it felt so incredible, just to be able to talk. Suddenly words tumbled out of my mouth like they had never done before. He asked me questions about my life, and I opened up like I had done to no one before. I answered his questions, but never have him exact details. It just seemed that he was interested and wanted to hear what I had to say.
I hadn’t meant to tell him so much, but I was powerless to stop myself. My name stayed as Daisy Renton, but he soon found out I was hopelessly penniless and at the time particularly hungry. So, extremely generously, he gave me enough money to keep me going for a while and managed to get me some food. And, when I told him I was about to be kicked out from my so-called home, he even sorted out with a very comfortable flat, which I think belonged to a friend of his. Yet he never asked for anything in return, not once.
He had become the most important person in my life, almost instantly. It was unavoidable that I was to become his mistress, and it seemed to me that we both enjoyed the time together. They were the most ecstatic months of my life, but I had known it couldn’t last, and I didn’t blame him for what he did. He probably had another life somewhere, one which I want part of. He had to go away for several weeks for his business, so he left with a small sum of money to keep me going, and I’ve agreed to move out of the flat. I’ll be all right for now, physically at least, but my memories will on forever.
Now, as I collapse into a chair, his name is all I can think about. I will die with his name engraved into my head, I am sure of it. Whether that is tomorrow, or a year, or fifty years, I know it will always be there.
I can feel the baby kicking away in my stomach even now, like the steady pounding of heavy rain of a rooftop. It’s probably in my mind more than anything. It probably isn’t even able to kick yet. It’s a fragment of my imagination, always reminding me of what is really there. Reminding me what really happened.
I had run out of money again, with absolutely no hope of getting another job. I had found a woman who convinced me to go back into the Palace Bar, again to try to earn a little money. Again I was extremely reluctant, but again I found myself asking, ‘What else can I do?’ This time I was approached by a young man, who I later found out, was named Eric Birling. He was very drunk at the time, and we talked a little. He bought me a couple of drinks and insisted that he walked me back to my lodgings. I didn’t particularly want him to, but he was in a quick-tempered mood and threatened to make it into a row. So I took him in, and that was when we did it. He didn’t really pressurise me into it, but he made me feel that I couldn’t refuse.
The next time we met was in the Palace Bar again, almost a fortnight afterwards. He couldn’t remember my name or anything else about me, but he recognised my face. We had a couple of drinks and I took him home again. I don’t know why. He was a lot less drunk than before and we talked about ourselves. That was when I found out his name, and it was in those moments I could tell he did not love me. But he obliviously did like me, as later that night we made love again. I wasn’t in love with him either, but I needed something to exhilarate my life again. I never thought it would end up like this.
The next few days felt like hell for me. I had all of the symptoms of pregnancy, but I couldn’t admit it even to myself. When I could handle it no longer, I went to a doctor, who just told me what I already knew. When I told Eric he was clearly distraught, and I was very worried as well. He didn’t know what to do at first, he kept mumbling to himself and I couldn’t even talk to him. Once he had calmed down a little, we talked about marriage, but we both knew it would never work. He didn’t love me, and if I had married him a part of his life would have been ruined. I knew that if I didn’t marry, I would be rejected from society, but I just didn’t care any more.
Next time I saw him he insisted on giving me some money, fifty pounds in total. I didn’t know where he had got that sort of money from, but I later found out it was stolen and I couldn’t accept any more. That was the last I saw from him.
I fear this is the end for me. I have nothing left now. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, no one to fall back on. Every time there is a slight glimmer of hope, I am banished and rejected. I’m infuriated at being treated like some sick joke, over and over again. One day they will come to regret it, one day they will think ‘look what we did to this poor little girl.’ But they will never be able to feel what I feel right now. They will never experience the disturbing emotions that pulse through my body right now. My last hope has faded, and yet again I must tear through the agony that burns in me when I think of it, just in the hope that some day someone might read this and simply understand.
Two weeks ago it happened. I was in desperate need of some advice, friendliness and a little money, as most of the money Eric had given me had now run out. I thought I had come up with a decent plan. I would tell them that my name was Mrs Birling, and that I was a married woman who’d been deserted by her husband, had fallen pregnant and didn’t know what to do. My plan collapsed instantly when I found out that the name of one of the head members of the Committee was also called Mrs Birling. She thought that I was deliberately trying to be insolent, and so immediately took a disliking to me. Of course the rest of the story collapsed with the name. I had no claim to it and ended up having to tell her the truth.
She had insisted before that I should go out and find the father of the child; that all of this was his fault and his responsibility. All of it was unbelievable, even absurd to me. With the truth came the revelation that I knew who the father was, and that I could never bring myself to marrying him. This seemed unbelievable to her, and when she heard my reasons for refusing both money and marriage, she had lost all patience with me. So it ended there. She used her influence so that my claim for assistance would never be allowed. My last hopefulness had dispersed like feathers in the wind. Even when she heard the truth bleed from my lips, she hadn’t believed a word of it. She knew I was crying out desperately for help, but her ignorance wouldn’t let her believe it.
This is where it ends. This will be my last entry. Where I go from here, I do not know. I’m on the brink of suicide, whether I have the nerves to go through with it is another matter. I have nothing to live for, nothing to die for. Just a tiny little baby forming inside of me. Even if it were to live; what would it live with? No money, no home, only a mother to care for it. Next to nothing.
Never again shall my mind be flooded and overflowing with thoughts…never again. Only one choice lies ahead of me now. The final decision…the end.