Edward was never popular with the other children; ‘Smelly Eddie’ they’d call him. What did they know? Maybe he did smell a bit, but it was just oil and grease!
Edward spent all his free time oiling cogs, axles and pistons, putting things together and tightening them, poring over schematics and notes left behind by his father. He didn’t tell anybody about his father’s work, they’d just say he was mad.
They said enough already, since he’d left that night and never come back. His own mother didn’t know what he was up to, just thought it was harmless tinkering, a boy’s whimsical desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. She’d bring him a sandwich and some milk now and then, ask how he was, then leave him to it.
It wasn’t finished. There were parts in the blueprints that were missing, they just weren’t there; Edward would need to find them or make them himself. Easier to make them, once he learned how at school; there’d be less questions from grown-ups that way.
There was also old man Cratchett who had a workshop that Edward visited frequently, just so that he could watch how Cratchett worked in amongst the pipes, valves, gears and steam – filing and cutting and welding and adding to his own contraptions. Maybe he could teach him what he needed to know, take him to the scrap yards for the materials he needed.
The hulk of the machine sat next to him in the cellar, gleaming in the dimness of the gas lamps – hard, solid, strong…silent, unmoving, dormant. Edward looked over over at it from the workbench at which he was sitting, furrowed his eyebrows as his eyes narrowed.
Soon – soon he’d put this thing together and then he’d show them, show them all. Then he’d go and find his father and show him.