Authors Note: I do not own The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or any other book in its franchise. They all belong to Sir L. Frank Baum.
"How do I look?" young Dorothy Gale asks as she enters the living room of her Aunt and Uncle's farmhouse, "Do you think Mommy and Daddy will like it?" she's referring to her new blue-and-white gingham dress; which she'd just spent the last week and a half making herself.
"I'm sure they'll love it," her Auntie Em says before reaching out and tucking a loose strand of hair behind Dorothy's ear, "Are you excited to see them?"
"Of course," Dorothy says with a smile. It's been exactly three months since her parents left her to attend a very important business meeting on the other side of the country. They had wanted to take Dorothy with her, really they had, but she still had three months of school left, and neither of them could postpone the trip without getting into some short of trouble with their employers. So, they - reluctantly - dropped Dorothy off with her Uncle Henry - who was Dorothy's mothers older brother - and Auntie Em; who, fortunately, only lived a good six miles away from where Dorothy lived, "Do you think they've missed me?"
"I know they have," Uncle Henry says from across the room, "In every little your mother has sent us, she's mentioned how much she misses you and wishes you were there with them."
"And I wish I could've been," Dorothy says wishfully, "I'm so tired of being in Kansas, it's so boring here.."
"Not if you know how to pass the time," Auntie Em says before leaning back in her rocking chair and picking up her knitting needles, "Time wouldn't go by so slowly if you simply kept yourself busy, dear."
"I've tried too," Dorothy says, her smile quickly turning into a frown, "I've read all my books, played with all my toys at least a thousand times, played a couple boring games of jump-rope, and even tried studying for when school starts back up in August..."
"Well, your struggles to stay entertained will soon be over," Uncle Henry says before slumping down onto his favorite arm chair, which was almost as old and worn as he was, "For in your mothers last letter, she said you'd all be traveling to Cape Cod a week after they return."
"Really?" Dorothy's smile returns, "Oh, how fun that'll be!" she waits a moment, "Have either of you been there?"
"Yes, once, a very long time ago," Uncle Henry says with a smile, "I took your Aunt Em there for her birthday. Remember Em?" the old woman's cheeks turn a light shade of pink, and she tries her best to hide her smile behind her knitting.
"Of course," she says after a moment, "How could I forget?" just then, the phone begins to ring. Auntie Em quickly puts aside her knitting and goes to answer it. She manages to pick it up on the fourth ring. "Hello?" a brief pause, "Yes, this is she," a moment passes before the woman's smile fades away, "..Oh, my God..." she covers her mouth in shock.
"What happened...?" she asks the person on the phone. Upon noticing the tears in his wife's eyes, Uncle Henry quickly jumps to his feet and shuffles over to her. He leans in close, not only to comfort her but to also hear what the person on the phone is saying. "No..." she doesn't try to stop the tears now, instead she simply lets them flow down her cheeks, "Please..please tell me this is...just some sick joke..."
"Em..." Uncle Henry says, his voice drenched with worry and concern. A moment of silence passes by.
"Thank you for calling," she says, her voice trembling. She then hangs up and collapses into her husbands arms, "Oh, Henry.." she begins to sob. Dorothy is stunned, she's never seen her Aunt act like this. She's always been such a strong woman, rarely ever crying, and usually the one doing the comforting, "I'm so sorry..." she gasps.
"Emily...did...did something happened to Petunia and George..?" he asks, even though deep down he already knows the answer. The only time his wife has ever cried like this in front of him, was when a relative of his or hers passed away. All the color drains from his face when she nods her head, "What happened?"
"A driver fell asleep behind the wheel...hit them head on...I'm sorry honey, but they didn't make it..." at that moment, not only did Uncle Henry's world shatter to millions upon millions of pieces, but so did little Dorothy's. Both Uncle Henry and Auntie Em were reminded of her presence when the little girl suddenly let out a loud "NO!" before collapsing to the floor...
It was well past midnight when Dorothy woke up back in her bed. She was no longer wearing her gingham dress, instead she now wore her favorite white nightgown and a pair of warm-yet-itchy knee socks. Slowly, she climbs down from her bed and walks out of her room. Just like she knew she would, she finds her Uncle Henry sitting in the living room, his dark green eyes locked on the television set. He's still got on his plaid shirt and overalls, but his graying hair is now in complete disarray, his eyes are bloodshot, and his cheeks are covered in streaks left behind by tears.
"Uncle Henry?" the old man jumps, he hadn't noticed her enter, "Sorry."
"It's alright," he looks at her, "How're you feeling, kiddo?"
"My head hurts," she must've hit her head when she fainted, for the entire back of her head was currently pulsing with pain, "You?"
"I'm okay," an uncomfortable silence falls upon the pair, "Come sit with me," he says before patting the empty spot beside him the couch. Dorothy does as she's told and sits next to him, "..Do you remember what happened earlier?" she nods, "So you know that Mommy and Daddy aren't..?" she nods again, and he sighs, "I'm sorry you had to hear that, Dorothy...and I'm sorry you had to see your Aunt like that.."
"Where is Auntie Em?" she'd been half expecting to see her Aunt either sitting on the couch beside him or bustling about in the kitchen in an attempt to stay busy.
"Asleep," was his answer, "She'd cried so much, she made herself sick. So I gave her a few of my sleeping pills, and she went to bed. Been a sleep a good two hours now."
"Why aren't you asleep?"
"Because I can't," he sighs, "I can't stop thinking about what's happened. Not even my pills can help me relax.."
"I'm sorry," was all Dorothy could think to say. Then, sensing her Uncle was close to tears, she moved in closer and snuggled up to him, "I love you."
"And I love you," he gives her arm a good, gentle squeeze. Another silence fell upon them, only this one was a comfortable one. Neither spoke for a good ten minutes, instead they simply watched the men on TV talk about upcoming sporting events. After awhile, though, a question popped into Dorothy's mind that just wouldn't go away. So, even though she knew now was not the time, she asked Uncle Henry...
"Am I gonna live in an orphanage?" even though she was only ten, Dorothy had read a great number of books where the heroes and heroines started their adventures at some orphanage.
"No, of course not," Uncle Henry says before giving her arm another squeeze, "You're gonna stay right here with me and Auntie Em," Dorothy smiles. Even though she found the farm quiet boring at times, she'd much rather be here then at some scary orphanage on her own.
The funeral for Dorothy's parents occurred three days, and a little over a hundred people showed up to pay their respects for the fallen couple. Dorothy, now dressed in her plainest black dress, didn't recognize really any of them, not even the ones that claimed to be relatives of hers. After spending an hour standing next to each casket, Dorothy bid everyone goodbye and walked herself back to the farmhouse.
"Hey Toto," she called out to the small Carin Terrier that laid waiting for her on the front porch. When her parents had left to travel, Dorothy had been forced to hand Toto over to her best friend Wendy, who lived deep in the city, simply because Auntie Em had a strong dislike for dogs and the noise they made; but now that Dorothy lived with her Aunt and Uncle full-time, her Aunt had - albeit reluctantly - allowed Dorothy to retrieve the dog on the grounds that she take care of him all by herself and she'd keep him quiet. He hasn't barked once in the two days he's been at the farm.
Dorothy picks him up in her arms before entering the small-yet-inviting farmhouse. "What a day," she says before running her hand through the dogs soft fur, "I wish you could've gone with us," Auntie Em had forbid Dorothy from taking Toto to the funeral, despite the fact that her father had loved the dog almost as much as he loved his wife and daughter. Dorothy enters her bedroom, places Toto onto her bed, slips off her black dress, and slips on her gingham dress. She hadn't been able to really wear it the last time she put it on, so she was determined to wear it for the remainder of the day. "Like it?" she asks before doing a quick twirl in front of the dog, "I made it all by myself," she says, a proud smile on her face. Toto wags his tail at her.
"Dorothy?" the young girl nearly jumps out of her skin when her uncle suddenly, and unexpectedly, bursts into her room, "There you are..." he says breathlessly before kneeling down and wrapping his arms around the small child, "I was so worried about you..."
"Worried? Did you not know that I walked home?" Dorothy asks, "I told Aunt Em to tell you..."
"It's not that," the old man suddenly stands up and takes ahold of her hand, "We gotta go."
"Why?" Dorothy asks as her uncle pulls her out into the living room, where Aunt Em stands waiting for them, "What's going on?" she asks, noticing the worried look on her Aunt's face.
"A twister is coming," Dorothy's eyes widen upon hearing this, "I want you to go with your Aunt down into the storm cellar."
"What about you?" he then places her hand in her aunts before turning and walking towards the door, "Uncle Henry?"
"I gotta go check on the animals," he says before throwing open the front door, "Make sure they're all locked up in the barn," just then, a strong gust of wind sweeps in through the doorway, bringing in with it a wave of sand that both startles Toto and stings Dorothy's face and arms.
"Be careful," Aunt Em says pleadingly. Uncle Henry looks at her, "Please..." he can tell from the look on her face, that she really doesn't want him to go; she'd rather he go down with them into the storm cellar instead of risk his life to check on a few easily replaceable farm animals.
"I will," a brief moment passe,s "I love you, Em," he looks at Dorothy, "And I love you, Dorothy."
"I love you too," before Aunt Em can say it, Henry turns and marches out of the house, slamming the door shut behind him. She sighs.
"Let's go.." Dorothy doesn't resist - why would she? - instead she allows her aunt to lead her over to the storm-cellar door, which sits directly in the middle of the room. She pulls it open, and quickly begins to descend down the rickety ladder that Uncle Henry had placed against the wall when he and Aunt May moved in, "Come along, Dorothy."
"Toto?" it was only now that Dorothy realized Toto was no longer in the room, "Toto!" ignoring her aunt's calls, Dorothy runs back to her room, "Toto, come here!" she says when she spots the dog hiding under her bed, "Toto!" Dorothy shrieks, and Toto yelps, when the house suddenly begins to shake.
"Dorothy!" she hears her aunt cry from the living room. Dorothy moves further into the room, determined to save her longtime companion. She gets down on all fours and reaches out towards the dog.
"Come here!" she says, her voice filled with panic, "Please!" he looks at her, "I already lost my parents, Toto, I can't lose you too," the dog stares at her for a moment, it's dark brown eyes unblinking, and then...it runs to her. She smiles as he jumps into her waiting arms. Her smile quickly fades, though, when the house begins to rumble. The floorboards moan and creak, and Dorothy can't help but scream as the sound of splintering wood suddenly fills the air. Her Aunt's cries fade away. Dorothy quickly stands up and hurries out of the room. She looks at the storm cellar, expecting to see a dark hole, but instead...it's full of light. Dorothy slowly approaches it. What she sees on the other side..makes her gasps in shock and horror...
The house is in the air...