Eugenia always held her breath when the pressure started to build; although Bronwyn laughed at her, she really did need to silence her own respiration in order to hear the steam from the tiny boiler fill the pipes. She knew every pop, ping and wheeze; the engine told her when it was ready. All she had to do was keep the fire going, and listen.
Time. She needed more time; she wasn't going to have enough time. Very, very gently she fanned the fire, urging the water to boil. The grounded ones were nearly upon her; she could hear them in the middle distance, the cadence of their engines indicating speed, the song of their steam mocking her own efforts. They didn't know how to make flights of fancy, and she wasn't going to be the one who gave up her steam to change that.
Bronwyn would give her grief for not filing a flight plan; but truly, she did not have time to plan this flight, let alone time to let anyone know she was going. She grinned; heck, even she didn't know where, or when, she was going. She would have to take her chances with space and time and work out the details of getting back when she got wherever, or whenever, it was she went. If she had enough time to leave, that is; she was hopeful, but not at all certain. She listened carefully, resisting the impulse to drum her fingers against the boiler to make some noise. At last it began to build: steam, steam; beautiful steam; pop, ping, wheeze.
Eugenia held her breath, set the dials, and vanished.
© 2009 Cynthia Newcomer Daniel
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