The Wizard of Oz.
Chapter 1. Cyclone
Uncle Henry had only chosen to be a farmer through respect for his granpa, it was a good old fashioned Kansas family farm. Young Henry had had dreams of travelling and seeing the world beyond the Kansas border but hard times kept him in his place. It hadn’t always been so difficult, the locals would buy the farm produce and Henry could provide for his beautiful young wife Emily. Emily, however, was no dreamer, in her younger years she sold knitted garments and fixed up old clothes for the Kansas folk. She had her own small store in the centre and made enough to be content, back then there was a sense of community and the busy market town serviced the residents well. It was once big stores moved into town the farm produces didn’t sell much, with prices being competitive. Emily had to sell the store one month just to keep Herself and Henry in food and fuel for the long winter ahead.
This was what they told Dorothy when she complained about living and working at the farm, how the farm was all they had and how as long as they had a warm fire, food to eat and family they had more the most in these hard days. This day it followed Dorothy’s complaining about having to visit their neighbour with a delivery of her regular farm produce.
‘I’ll go but the skies look muddy and I be washed away in a flash flood’ Dorothy sassed, this was her typical quip, she was of that age now.
It was true, however, the skies were darkening and extreme weathers where not unusual for Kansas. Henry didn’t like having Dorothy go off on her own when the weather was in such a bad mood. Winds were howling around the small farm house and beating at the window shutters. She only had a mile and a half to ride her bike to the neighbours and she needed to learn responsibility, Emily was more stern with Dorothy then Henry.
‘Aunt Em I’m taking Toto, because once I’m swept away I’ll need someone to keep me company, plus he’s the only thing that keeps Mrs Kiffin far enough for me not to smell her breathe’, the giggles burst from Dorothy’s mouth, they only become louder when Aunt Em’s face went bright red with anger. ‘One of these Days Dorothy Gale you’ll learn to respect your elders and realise just how important some people are in keeping this family fed and warm’ before Aunt Em could begin the lecture Dorothy scooped Toto up into the basket of farm goodies, carelessly for it was not any concern to Dorothy if any of the goods were damaged, just as long as she delivered to Mrs Kiffin.
Toto was Dorothy’s best friend, some would think this a sad affair, but Dorothy was glad to have a dog as her best friend, the scruffy Scottish terrier was handsome and cheeky and was most loyal to Dorothy. Once Dorothy had been on egg collecting duties at the farm one early morning, dozy and still dreaming Dorothy walked straight into the coop without noticing the rusty red fox surrounded by feathers. Red foxes aren’t as big as coyotes but are bigger then swift foxes and are certainly bigger the Toto. The fox stalked Dorothy into the coop, Dorothy was only made aware of the fox when Toto had it pinned in the corner, both animals growling. Her heart sank but luckily Toto won the show strength and the fox escaped with a bite and unfortunately for the farm a belly full of chicken. Once Uncle Henry had heard of the fox Toto was a hero in the house for the whole week, Aunty Em however ended the show of gratitude, he’s a dog that’s just his job, she had exclaimed.
What girl could ask for any better a best friend? Although the girls at her Kansas school wouldn’t give Dorothy a choice of best friends, they found her story telling and her dreamy behaviour too strange to invite her to play. Story telling was Dorothy’s way of entertainment, transforming the humble dry prairies of Kansas into empires and turning the locals into heroes and villains. However these stories detached her from reality and would constantly annoy Aunt Em, Uncle Henry however admired her for being head strong and saw his own youth in her eyes. ‘let the girl dream Em, it won’t be long ‘til she is grown up, married and watching her dreams fly away into the winds’,‘Married!! I don’t think so, never’, marriage was definitely not one of those stories Dorothy invented for herself.
The winds played havoc with Dorothy’s bike and every howl got a howl from Toto in response, which made her giggle and eased her worries about getting to Mrs Kiffins house and back to the farm without being blown into a ditch or getting caught in the rain. This was a regular journey for Dorothy and she had managed to get the time it took to travel down to about 30 minutes, that was allowing a few stops to admire a bird or stop and feed some local horses. What worried Dorothy more was the weather turning and having to stop at Mrs Kiffin’s for safety, Kansas winds can develop into cyclones easily, something Kansas is known for all to well.
It wasn’t that Mrs Kiffin was a horrible woman, in fact she chose to buy her produce from Uncle Henry because she knew it was important income for the Gale family and she was set in her old ways. However she detested Toto, mainly because of her cat, Samson who seemed to be afraid of everything, but Toto did enjoy chasing him around the garden. Dorothy also hated how she called her Dotty and always tried to kiss her on the head before she departed.
The murky skies took a turn for the worse and began to spit rain at Dorothy, riding through the vast flat farm lands without a person, or even animal, in sight gave Dorothy the overwhelming sense of loneliness, and for once the familiar land look foreign and she felt a little lost. Luckily Mrs Kiffin’s house was just on the horizon. The first thing to greet her was the sound of the house fighting back against the persistent winds. The wood creaked and twisted painfully and the window shutters slapped back and forth, in her imagination Dorothy saw the house and a screaming witch, she smiled at the idea of the roof as a pointed hat and the and the swaying trees as wild dark hair. ‘Dotty get in the house before your blown over you silly little girl’, Mrs Kiffin’s scolding screech brought Dorothy back to earth. She hadn’t noticed just how wet she had gotten until she was wrapped in a towel and stood by Mrs Kiffin’s roaring wood fire.
‘Dotty dear I have put the money for my goods in the basket, but I can’t let you go home in this weather, I’ll call Emily and let her know your staying here for the night whilst this dangerous weather passes, the skies are brewing up a cyclone’ Mrs Kiffin had already picked up the house phone and was dialling but Dorothy was too busy reading the skies for signs of a cyclone, something she found scary and exciting all at once. So busy dreaming she hadn’t noticed that Mrs Kiffin had locked Toto out in the pouring rain, Dorothy’s heart melted at the sight of Toto sodden in the garden, so wet he looked only half his usual size. ‘I better be off now Mrs Kiffin, thanks for the towel and the money, enjoy the eggs’, Dorothy smirked, she only half meant what she said about the eggs, knowing how rough she was packing Toto into her basket and now hoping for a few broken eggs with how Toto was left to near drown outside.
Her departing message had gone un-noticed as Mrs Kiffin was too busy discussing the weather with aunt Em, as old lady often do, at length. ‘Come on Toto let’s leave that mad witch to her tea and we will get home and have some warm milk in front of the fire’, he couldn’t speak words but Dorothy swore she could read Toto’s thought with the way he looked at her, his usually message was ‘I agree Dorothy’.
Try as it did the wind and rain didn’t stop Dorothy from feeling smug about getting away from Mrs Kiffin, everything was a blur as she peddled fast and hard against the strong winds, the small farm house she called home was within her vision. Dorothy’s curious nature stopped her in her progress home as her eye was caught by a flapping small sign stapled to a near-by tree. ‘It must be one of those missing person signs, Uncle Henry was telling us about Toto’ speaking to her canine companion like this was another reason the girls at her school made fun of Dorothy. The soggy pup rolled his eyes, ‘let’s just get home to the fire’. She couldn’t resist, dismounting the bike and approaching the sign she saw a somewhat handsome young man had gone missing from a nearby town. He was handsome by all means but Dorothy’s thoughts didn’t stay with this, instead Dorothy focused on the part of the sign that said the young man was part of a circus act. At this point a thousand different scenarios burst into her head, he ran away with the gymnast tightrope girl, he was a suicidal clown, he eaten by the fierce circus lion. Her stories become more and more ridiculous until the wind interrupted, tearing the sign from the tree.
It was Dorothy’s dreamy personality that had gotten her into trouble yet again, distracted by her imagination she had noticed the winds pick up and the temperature change. As she watched the sign dance aggressively into the distance, it wasn’t until it was swallowed by the gust that she realised, worse than being chased by Mrs Kiffin for her broken eggs, Dorothy was being chased by a cyclone.
Her mind was filled with fear but at the same time her heart pumped with excitement, ever the story teller Dorothy saw the potential of this dangerous character that perused her home. Snap out of it, said Toto with his low whining. Grabbing the dog and tucking him into the basket tight, Dorothy mounted the bicycle and peddled as hard as any young girls legs could. The Cyclone rejoiced in her fear, whaling and whistling abuse. In her mind she heard it telling her to run home.
Uncle Henry had the cyclone shelter doors unbolted and had already helped Aunty Em into the bunker, not without her pot of tea and a crossword. Inside the small farm house the phone went unheard, undoubtedly Mrs Kiffin calling to tell Aunt Em that Dorothy had already departed. Something inside Uncle Henry told him to old on, but the cyclone was growing ever closer and he was sure that any longer and both him and Em would torn away alongside the house, he was, however, in no doubt that the quaint family farm house was a goner and had prepared for this also by packing only the essentials and everything Dorothy held dear. This really only consisted of her small collection of clothes and a stuffed rabbit form her earlier years.
‘Uncle Henry, I’m here, wait for me’ not only did the wind steal her breathe but it also swept away her cries. Dorothy knew it was too late, the cyclone was all but upon her, she tried the bunker doors but she knew it would be locked solid and it would take Uncle Henry too long to unlock the padlock with his frail shaky hands.. Just like all children in fear Dorothy headed for her bed, the house was her safe place, and her bed was on the ground floor. As she lay with Toto under the covers, tears rolled down her cheeks. ‘This is it Toto, we’ll be crushed, thank you for being such a good friend, I’m sorry you didn’t get to grow old and fat like all good dogs get to do’, this was typical of Dorothy, even in the face of her own death she thought of Toto. He licked the tears from her chin, which tickled her, but no laughter could come out. The cyclones winds smashed through the bedroom window and Dorothy’s scream was so loud, her head became faint and her eyes blear. The only sense that didn’t shut down was her hearing, one ear heard Toto howling his goodbyes the other heard the wood farm house break into pieces around her, or so she imagined.
Chapter 2. ‘Everything is up in the air’