I’ve been thinking about my next novel after I’ve wrapped with Weightless (also possibly titled Broken String Theory) and it’s forming up to be a steampunkish, Civil War, Romance. I need to do more research, but that’s kind of where this flash fiction piece is going. Remember, flash fiction is just about getting the words out. No editing is allowed. This took about twenty minutes.

Prompt via Figment: I think she’s broken.

1863

“I think she’s broken.”

Ptolemy furrowed his brows and leaned out of the cab to get a better look at his brother Ceasar. He was leaning his head into the engine a little too far for his brother’s liking and steam was obscuring his features. All it would take is an overheated hose and a hot leak to burn the skin right off his pretty pale face.

“Lean back for God’s sake, ” Ptolemy yelled.

“Don’t be such a worry wort.”

“Did you fill the side cannisters with enough water?”

“To the line like always.”

“Did you stake the coals in the back?”

“Of course, I did.”

Ptolemy chewed his lip in hard thought. This was the last thing he needed before the exhibition. The war was going full throttle and there weren’t many buyers with enough coin left, at least not in universally accepted gold coin, willing to purchase extravagances like horseless carriages. He’d poured all of his time, sweat and most importantly inheritance money into this endeavor and it had to work. There weren’t many places a black man could get his start but Kansas, maybe even Denver looked promising. If he was going to make his grandmother proud, well not just her, but his ancestors he’d have to prove the White man wrong and beat him at his own game.

“Let it rest awhile.” Ptolemy called.

He didn’t have to tell Ceasar twice. He happily collapsed into one of the chairs in the rented stable and plucked an apple from his pocket. Ptolemy stared at the resting engine and fingered the packet of folded letters in his right vest pocket absentmindedly. Caesar lept on the motion, never letting anything his brother did escape him.

“You’re going to try and buy her back aren’t you?”

His voice was even but still accusatory. Ptolemy stiffened. He’d stopped talking about Sadie Morning months ago. After Massa died and freed him and his five siblings they’d had to leave the state immediately. Ceasar was happier than any man had a right to be and spent his nights passing for white in gambling houses from Richmond to Boston. Ptolemy was too dark to pass and too heartsick over Sadie to do anything but tinker on his small mechanics and write letters to Sadie, none of which a field hand like her could read.  She’d been sold along with the rest of the estate after he’d left the state and ol’ Missus went to live with her sister. He didn’t even know where to send the letters, let alone bargain for her life.

 

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