The train was there again, on the sidetrack, by the water crane. Steam escaped with sighs of relief. Molly watched from her perch as the fireman loaded the tender’s water tanks. Coal-black clouds swirled when the fuel bunker filled.
She knew the fireman would soon disappear into the locomotive’s cab to stoke the firebox. Thick black smoke would curl idly through the fire tubes, into the smokebox, escaping through the stack. One long whistle by the engineer meant the boiler was back to pressure, followed by an enormous belch of steam and smoke and cinders, and the train would move.
It would build speed again, each steamy huff arriving sooner than the last, and Molly would wonder, as she always did, where the train was going. She would try to imagine what that place was like, how it felt to be on the train, going somewhere other than Clay County. She’d been to Iola, and to Louisville, the County seat. But she knew there was more than Clay County.
The train disappeared over the horizon, the only reminder a ragged stripe of dark grey puffs swirling in the summer breeze. Molly sat while her imagination finished its journey to all the places she knew she would never see. She roused, slowly returning to Clay County, and started the long walk from the hill overlooking the railroad tracks to the chores that waited for her on the family farm. She’d come to the hill tomorrow, to let her imagination travel again.
[Author’s note: this is a stab at short fiction, it came in at 250 words. Feedback?]