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“Me and a few of my more radical lady friends swear by this ‘Ari. Let me know what you think?”

Aristophanes Brown looked at “this” warily. It was a copper sphere, about two feet across, shining dully in the Thames light entering the warehouse through glass bricks. The banding in it made it look like a mechanised version of the planet Jupiter, and it was probably just as heavy.

“What am I supposed to do with this Lady Alexia. It’s a smidgen big for billiards.”

Alexia removed her trilby, letting her auburn hair tumble out, waved like a three tiered waterfall. “It’s an exercise device Aristophanes. You yourself said you felt you were getting a little out of shape, and…”

She prodded him in the belly, easier today as a spell of warm weather meant that Aristophanes was sporting no waistcoat over his white linen shirt.

“…I can certainly vouch for that myself. So, this.”

Alexia Laplace rolled the sphere across the floorboards towards Brown. It rumbled weightily.

“What am I supposed to do with this? i surely can’t lift it over my head, I’m not some kind of circus strongman!”

“You don’t lift it, ‘Ari. You sit on it like this…” – she sat down upon it, feet flat, hands crossed across her chest, “…and perform sit ups like this.”

Alexia, despite her high boots and ruffled cream shirt, was easily able to perform a series of sit ups. She sat up.

“The exercises are harder as you also have to work to maintain a stable posture. But it will give you a more manly stomach in no time. I find it keeps me strong for my work. Now you try.”

Aristophanes spent many seconds making sure that the sphere was steady.

“Oh do stop faffing” chided Alexia.

Eventually he sat down upon it, crossed his hands over his chest in imitation of Alexia. He lowered himself slowly, the sphere wobbling rather under his posterior. It was when he began to raise himself back up that things went awry. He groaned as his stomach took the strain, he began to wobble sideways, and eventually slipped off the ball, which rolled off to hit the wall with a hollow clang, as Aristophanes crashed onto his backside hard, and glared up at Alexia, who did nothing but give a sideways grin.

“And to think, they won’t give us the vote. Pah.”

Copyright Mulberry Lightning 28.10.14

This was written in about 32 minutes, I love slightly subverting my perceived norms of steampunk, and bit a little anachronistic jar into Aristophanes’ world.