The pen stopped, hovering there uncertainly above the surface of the rough paper. It couldn't form the words, and nor could its wielder, who sat for a while longer and stared at those two words, nibbling at the pen, lost in thought. For a year, she had been trying to compose this letter. A long, long year in this strange land, with naught but a scarecrow for company. And although she loved the Scarecrow, he was hardly the man he used to be. Something had changed within him.
Her lip curled into a sad smirk at the cold irony. She had thought herself the one changed by those events so long ago, not the Scarecrow, not steadfast Fiyero. But no, he was different now. His eyes no longer twinkled, his words had a bitter edge.
And she? Inside herself, she knew that she was still the same Elphaba. Perhaps possessed of a little more clarity than she had once had, and a lot more sorrow, but the same.
There was only one thing she held onto now, and that was her oldest friend. Unfortunately, holding on proved difficult when you lived so far apart -- or, the worse kind of distance, when one of you didn't even know the other was alive. How she yearned to send a letter to Glinda, anything, just to let the woman know she was all right...but Fiyero forbade it. This was not an act of cruelty or dominance, Elphaba knew, because she would be having none of that; it was simply a necessary precaution. She highly doubted that Glinda would tell anyone if she was asked not to, but these things always seemed to have a way of leaking out.
The reasoning was perfectly clear in Elphaba's mind. But she didn't care.
Seizing the piece of paper, she rolled it in a frustrated ball and cast it aside, starting anew with a fresh page.
Some more intense meditation on these two words, pen quivering as though about to write something but freezing up at the last second, finally she managed to jot down,
I hope this finds you well
...and immediately crossed it out. One more try...
I know it has been a long year since we last
Scribbled out more furiously this time. She was beginning to amass an impressive pile of rejected drafts around her ankles, and looked quite mad with her green skin, scraggly black hair and teeth bared in agonized concentration, when her study door creaked open and the Scarecrow jerked in. Even now, Elphaba had to resist the urge to laugh at his strange gait, particularly when she was angry with him.
"What are you doing, Elphie?" he asked her, leaning on the back of her chair to see. She winced; that old schoolyard nickname was a lingering memory of painful times, but she didn't tell him that. She couldn't bring herself to.
"I'm writing," she answered dully, eyes closed to calm her nerves. It would happen any minute now, no point in hiding it...
Fiyero snatched the paper up. "What's this?" His eyes widened. "You're writing to Glinda? Elphaba, I thought we discussed this -- a lot more than once!"
The switch from her nickname to the formal "Elphaba" was not lost on her. Sticking out her chin stubbornly, she folded her arms and rocked back in the chair to look up at him. "I never said I was going to send it. Maybe it's just a therapeutic exercise. Maybe you're just blowing it out of proportion, as always."
He looked stung by this, but contrived not to shout. A pity; a shouting match was what Elphaba could do with right about now. "But I'm not, am I? You were trying to contact her. You were."
The Scarecrow locked his baleful eyes on her dark, guilty ones for a long moment. She was the first to look away. "Yes."
Interrupting him -- she could tell by that quick silence, as though he were pausing for breath, although he no longer possessed any -- Elphie abruptly stood, grabbing the paper away, shoving it up her sleeve indelicately. Her fists clenched and unclenched as she stared at the desk, the floor, the chair, anywhere but at him. Because despite the wickedness that had been thrust so forcefully upon her, she was going to regret this next act of cruelty very much.
"What are you going to do about it, Fiyero?" Her voice was hard as steel and cold as ice, an edge she had never used toward him before. "Will you stop me? Me, the Wicked Witch? You don't have the power, nor do you have the right. You can't keep me here, or stop me from yearning for something better." Drawing herself up to her full height, which was highly intimidating, especially with the addition of her pointed hat, Elphaba turned to face the Scarecrow at last, eyes glinting with malice.
"You mope around here day after day, this useless prison of brick and mortar, with no purpose, no life, and you expect that I'd be content to do the same? No, Fiyero; I want to go back. I want to find Glinda. Even if it means my death."
It shocked her to her core, just how much she meant of what she'd said, and by the look of anguish on his face it shocked Fiyero just as much. Shooting him a last glare, she crossed the room in long strides, snatching up her broom, descending the stairs, until she reached...
"Chistery!" she called, withdrawing the paper from her pocket, grasping the pen she still held in shaking fingers. Even now, in the heat of such rage and passion, she was at a loss for what to write. What could she possibly say to Glinda after all this time?
I'm coming home.
That would have to do. Thrusting the paper into the monkey's waiting hands, she ordered him as to where he should take it. Then, broom in hand, Elphaba bursted through the front doors into the half-light of dawn, mounted up, and flew high over the treetops, leaving that strange land behind her.
With that, the Wicked Witch of the West went home.