top of page

Misery Factory

This author is a recipient

of the Sigma Tau Delta Award

Sigma Tau Delta Awarde

It all starts with the raw materials. Mechanical arms piece tiny, infant limbs together like a puzzle. As they are placed down on the conveyor belt for the first time, each product is given eyes, a brain, and a heart that bleeds red, white, and blue.

But this stage of manufacturing doesn’t last long in the factory; efficiency is key.

It’s time to start contributing. 

An electrical plug is forced into the brain of each product, imparting all the knowledge they could ever possibly need to know.

“Humans use only ten percent of the brain.”

“In 1492, Columbus discovered this factory.”

“This beautiful factory was founded by brave, kind men.”

“The Gettysburg Address freed the slaves, and now this factory doesn’t have racism.”

With the new facts nestled snug in their brains, the partially completed products are forced into an oven, where they are baked at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until their skin is no longer soft to the touch, and they’ve risen to their maximum height.

After exiting the oven, they are pushed back onto the conveyor belt because you mustn't stop. Forward. Move forward. Get to the next thing—now!

The fully-grown products are then funneled into different off-shoots of the main belt labeled things like “college,” “work force,” and “trade school.” Each group will be punished accordingly for this decision that wasn’t theirs, but that’s the fun part. You never know exactly what the punishment will be! Sometimes, it’s owing thousands and thousands of dollars you don’t have, and sometimes it’s just social stigma and shame. 

These off-shoots start to travel all over Misery Factory, and it becomes quite hard to follow who is where, and at what time. The important thing to note is that this is where the factory starts to drain away each product’s youth, power, and individuality bit by bit in order to keep the factory running. Each individual must contribute to the running of this factory. The factory must never stop running. All it needs to run successfully is your entire life; what’s the problem? You agreed to the terms when you were created.

After the machines glean all the money, energy, brain-power, and creativity they need from each product, they are baked once again at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until crispy and golden-brown. Exiting the oven, they embark on the last part of their journey through the factory.

This is what everyone waits for. The finished products. 

These almost-finished products are funneled into various off-shoots again labeled things such as “golf,” “crocheting,” or “volunteering.” Some unlucky ones are forced back onto the main line, to go through another process of energy draining, because the factory didn’t get all it needed the first time.

There it is, the end of the belt. It’s drawing nearer and nearer. The crispy finished products are finally dumped off the conveyor belt, having no energy or life left in them, into ornate wooden boxes and shipped out like cargo back to the beginning. Waste not, want not.


Evie Breitbach graduated from Anamosa High School in 2022 and now studies English and Communications at St. Ambrose University. Her previous work includes a poetry collection entitled On the Wings of Birds and a young adult novel entitled What Lies Beyond.


bottom of page