The Broken Wagon

A prompt inspired by Taylor Eaton on Twitter.

There wasn’t anything more that could be done about the broken wagon wheel. The broken venture. The broken marriage. Marie Fanturn was a simple farmer’s wife. She cooked, she cleaned, and she kept the kids from killing each other. Tiger Fanturn on the other hand was anything but simple. He never truly had a passion for farming. He just stuck with the family business to keep his own family a float.

The farm was old and had not much land left. They had just a few cows and only enough horses to pull a wagon. Their crops were suffering from the draught and their marriage was suffering from their lack of communication. Not to say Marie didn’t try, it was rather that Tiger was out most nights after farming his land at the local watering hole.

That is where he came up with the great idea to head west. Follow the front runners and become one of the richest men in the gold rush. He had it all planned out. They’d sell the farm and supplies to stock up on food and then take the journey out to the west territories. It didn’t matter if they would fail, it didn’t matter that the farm was their only income. All that mattered was finding that gold and striking it rich.

And so, in hopes to save her crumbling marriage, Marie agreed to sell their farm, pack up their two kids, and all hop in a wagon headed for California. No matter how much she hated the idea or the notion that this would actually work, she stood by her husband.

Which brings up the broken wagon wheel; three weeks in and they were nowhere near the coast thought Marie. They had hit a rough patch and it jarred a few spokes loose in the wheel of the wagon. And with no tools, only food supplies with them, there was no way they could make it out west. Let alone survive. After a day or so of realizing this, Marie had to make the decision that would forever be stuck in her heart.

“Tiger, you know what you have to do.” Marie said in that lovely southern draw that most farmers’ wives had.

“I can’t leave you and the kids alone.”

“Well it’s not like you’re helping us by staying!” she said, raising her voice and her arms at him.

She offered him no ultimatum. He must leave. Whether he decided to go try and find food or help. Or whether he decided to just go live on his own and try to survive off the land. He must leave. There was no way they could all survive much longer on what little food they had. But forcing him to leave meant more time with her children, less time fighting, and more food rations for the three of them.

After a bit of arguing and a few misused slurs, Tiger began to walk off into the distance, his lanky figure almost completely disappearing into the horizon. She turned to her children, and with a smile so uncharacteristic of her, she spoke to her son.

“Hand me the rifle, Jim…”

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