AN: I had a dream involving the events in the first three chapters of this story over a year ago and recently, since I've been on an OZ kick, I've decided to try and complete the type of fanfiction I've always dreaded: chapter fan fiction. With original stories, I have no problem writing until the cows come home. In fact, I think one of the issues I struggle most with when it comes to writing is that I can get a little too wordy. While words are marvelous things, writers are supposed to be able to command them in a way where they aid the story. And sometimes, wordiness hinders a story. I digress—
I've been trying to exercise my writing muscles in preparation for a big writing project I'll be working on over Thanksgiving and Christmas break. So I thought I'd give this story a try. And if I can't finish? Well, as much as I hate unfinished stories, I doubt that anyone will really notice. There isn't much traffic in the OZ section anyway. This story will blend elements of the movie and the book. It is meant to be a weird mix of horror/mystery and friendship/adventure. Without further adieu(or in my case, distraction), I humbly present: STOLEN MAGIC.
Disclaimer: I do not own the world of OZ. All copyrighted creations are credited to their appropriate parties.
~Chapter 1: The Dreams~
Dorothy Gale had nightmares. Dorothy Gale also had dreams. In the mind of the almost sixteen-year-old girl from the sticks in Kansas, there is a monumental difference between the two. Dreams are pleasant things. They can be funny, odd, memories, or aspirations. Sometimes you don't remember what you dreamt come morning, but you are always left with some warm feeling. Nightmares on the other hand one always remembers. They are always horrid things, and more often than not they wake you up in the middle of the night—tossing and turning, scared and confused. Dorothy Gale had plenty of warm, pleasant dreams, but she also had many cold nightmares. It all started when she was eleven-years old. Dorothy and her only living family—her Uncle Henry and Aunt Emily—told the story often. A tremendous twister had come upon their little patch of Kansas, in the unexpected and disruptive way that twisters often do. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry—as well as the farm hands Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory—had run for the underground storm shelter. The storm was fast upon them, and by the time they realized that Dorothy was not present it was too late to search for her. Because of the cacophony of noise the storm stirred-up, Dorothy's family was unable to hear her stomping on the shelter's doors. When the storm finally subsided, Dorothy's Aunt and Uncle as well as the farmhands went looking for her. To their tremendous relief, she was alive—but unconscious—in the one surviving room of the house. When Dorothy finally awoke, she told them all a fantastical story about men made of straw, witches, talking trees, and cities made of gems.
Initially, Dorothy's family thought the story to be the result of what the doctor had called a concussion. When the stories persisted for several months after the incident, they thought her to be an imaginative child. When Dorothy turned thirteen and began to tell neighboring children her stories, her family grew concerned. When those children related the stories to their parents—stories which included the melting of witches and writing in the sky—most were far from happy. When enough parents became disturbed by Dorothy's behavior and refused to allow her to see their children, Dorothy's family decided to have a heart to heart with their "imaginative" niece. It had been on a Sunday afternoon, after church. Aunt Em had wanted the pastor's help with the talk, but Uncle Henry felt that he would only intimidate Dorothy. So, when they walked back to their newly finished house—sending Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory ahead—Aunt Em and Uncle Henry stopped Dorothy by the ruins of their old house. The land that had been passed down through Henry's family was spacious enough for them to move the location of their house. The wreckage had made Emily sad, so instead of rebuilding in the house's original location, Henry and the guys had gathered all of the reusable materials from the wreckage and had rebuilt a little ways away. Dorothy was very fond of what little remained of their old house—though she knew her Aunt did not like her to be anywhere near the ruins. So, when her Aunt and Uncle led her to the near empty lot she was very confused.
"What are we doing here Aunt Em? Uncle Henry?" she asked, looking from one face to another.
"Dorothy—" her Aunt began, "—we need to have a talk."
"Talk about what?" Dorothy asked, bending down to pick a clover from the ground. It had four leaves. Dorothy smiled and said,
"Look! It's a four-leaf clover. It's pretty—though not as pretty as the ones in Oz. Do you know, if you find a seven leaf clover there you have to sing to it? If you don't, then you won't get a wish. Only, you have to be careful what you wish for. Talking plants can be dece..deceptuh…"
"Deceptive?" Aunt Em offered.
Uncle Henry and Aunt Em looked from one another, hoping that the other would start what was sure to be an uncomfortable conversation. After a while, Uncle Henry removed his hat and cleared his throat.
"s' funny you should mention Oz, Dottie. That's what we—you're Aunt Em and I—need to talk to you about."
Dorothy kicked her feet in the dirt in thought. Her expression brightened and she exclaimed,
"Do you want me to tell you a story!"
"No, Dorothy. It's the stories we need to talk to you about. You need…you need to stop telling them sweetheart." Aunt Em said as she removed her church cloves and twisted them in her hands.
"Oh. Well then, shall I write them down? I know I'm not as fast a writer as the other kids, but I could spend extra time on it. Like, before I go to bed." Dorothy proposed, and Uncle Henry and Aunt Em once again exchanged desperate looks with one another.
"I think I shall look for a seven leaf clover." Dorothy declared. "After all, this house…well, the old house went to OZ too. Maybe it brought back some seeds with it." Determined, Dorothy got down on her knees and began to carefully part the grass with her hands in search of her missing clover. She gasped when her Aunts harm yanked her to her feet. Glaring, Dorothy said,
"Ouch! Auntie Em—why are you pulling so hard? I wasn't going to get my dress dirty."
"Dorothy, enough!" Em yelled, loosing her composure. Henry, seeing the change in his wife's temperament, tried to mediate.
"Now Emily, let's not get too worked up…"
"No Henry!" She yelled. "This has to stop! We've spent too much time talking about doing it, too much time ignoring it! We never should have let this go on for so long, for Dorothy's sake!"
"Aunt Em, what are you yelling about?" Dorothy asked, confused and growing more frightened by the second. Her Aunt could be strict, but she was generally a very kind person. She seldom ever lost her temper with anyone else but Hunk, and that was usually because he did something silly.
"Now Dottie, don't worry. You've done nothing wrong. We're just worried about you is all." Uncle Henry placated, coming to place a hand on Dorothy's shoulder.
"Worried about what Uncle Henry?" Dorothy asked, searching his eyes for an answer.
"Dorothy, you know what Miss White said, don't you? About your class next year?" Uncle Henry started, and Dorothy looked towards her feet. When she didn't answer, he finished,
"She said that you'd have to repeat your year. You're a smart girl Dottie, but your head—its just not there most of the time. You have trouble sticking to your chores, you don't do your lessons, you draw on your tests…You can see why we'd be worrying after you Dot."
"I don't mean to do bad at things…" Dorothy mumbled, and Aunt Em's anger finally ebbed. Tearing up, she said,
"We know you don't Dorothy. You're a good girl. But it can't go on like this." Aunt Em took a breath to steady her nerves before saying,
"You can't talk about Oz anymore Dorothy. It's not healthy, holding onto a dream for so long. It worries your Uncle and I sick, especially the nightmares. We spoke to Father Michael and he agrees that you have to let this fantasy go."
"But Aunt Em!" Dorothy cried, her eyes becoming as wet as her aunt's. "It wasn't a dream, it was real! I truly, truly went there! Toto did too! And the Wicked Witch showed me your face in her crystal ball, so I had to come back! I knew how sad you were! It wasn't a dream, it wasn't!" She stomped her foot on the ground, and her tears hit the collar of her Sunday dress. Dorothy's tears caused Aunt Em's composure to fade, and soon she was bawling too. Surrounded by two crying girls, Uncle Henry desperately tried to think of a solution.
"Now Dottie, we know you think it wasn't a dream. And it's so real to you that you really do think you're telling the truth. We don't blame you for that hon. But you must understand, sure as you're absolutely positive that it was not a dream, we're positive that it was. And even then—it doesn't matter whose right and whose wrong about your dream. What does matter—and I think you'll agree—is that we know that these Oz stories are keeping you up at night, they're keeping you from your chores, and their holding you back in your lessons. Now, do you want to keep waking up in the middle of the night, terrified of heaven only knows what?"
"…no" Dorothy sniffed.
"And do you want to make Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory's jobs harder by not doing your job well?"
"And do you want to have to watch all of your friends go on in school without you, while you're left behind?"
My friends are all in Oz, Dorothy thought, but instead answered, "I guess not".
Relieved, Henry clapped his hands together and said,
"There now! Everyone agrees. You'll start keeping up around the farm, and working hard at school, and we won't talk about Oz anymore."
Drying her eyes on her handkerchief, Aunt Em added, "I know it seems cruel Dorothy. I know that you don't mean to worry us, or to do badly in school. I know that you believe something really happened in that storm, but you'll be happier now dear—I'm sure of it!" The latter statement Aunt Em said more to reassure herself than her niece. The three of them walked the short distance back to their new home. Dorothy kept quiet for the entirety of the walk.
"Here they come" Zeke called over his shoulder. Hickory looked up from changing the hay in the barn.
"Do you think they talked to her about 'you know what'?" Hickory asked, leaning on the handle of his pitchfork.
"Well, they're awfully quiet." Zeke replied. As Aunt Em approached, the two went back to working, too afraid of being reprimanded for standing around. They observed in between their tasks that the three went inside of the house, presumably to change out of their Sunday's best. Toto could be heard barking from inside the house.
"They told her." Came Hunk's voice as he put down the buckets of water he was carrying.
"How can you tell?" Zeke asked.
"Because her eyes were all red and puffy, and it takes allot to make that kid cry." Hunk sighed and emptied his buckets into the water troth of the hog pen.
"Well why'd they have to go talk to her about it in the first place. She's only a kid. Isn't a kid allowed to have an imagination?" Hickory growled, pitching the hay more forcefully than was necessary.
"Yeah, but her school teacher said that she wasn't doing too well in school. And, not that I'm complaining, but she's had trouble doing her chores around her too. And the nightmares—from what I've heard say, they've been doing a number on the poor kid. Maybe it's better if she does forget about it."
"Ah, who needs school anyhow?" Hickory said, throwing his pitchfork to the side. Hunk shook his head, and picked the fork back up, leaning it on a nearby fence post. "Take me for instance—I never finished the eighth grade and I turned out just fine!"
"You might want to rethink that argument Kory." Zeke said, and Hickory glared.
"Yeah well, it's okay for a couple of guys like us not to have an education. We're too old to learn anything new anyway. We have gainful employment, good bosses, and our own place to sleep to boot. But Dorothy—you know, they let women get degrees now in some of the big cities. She could get a real job, and in a real nice place too." Hunk added, patting the back of one of the hogs.
"So you think it's right to go and break a little girl's heart like that?" Hickory demanded, and Zeke frowned and pretended to hammer a nail into a fence post. The three of them silently brooded for a while. They all cared for the kid. She reminded Hickory of his little sister—who wasn't so little anymore—and Zeke had a soft spot for anything that moved. They often jokingly called him, "pudding heart". Hunk saw Dorothy almost as his own niece, or daughter. He'd watched her grown up, he'd been there when she came to live on the farm after her parent's death, and he'd been in the storm cellar worrying about her with all the rest of them. After a while, Hunk said,
"I don't know Kory. I just don't know."
And with that, they returned to their chores. Hunk worked hard to finish his extra early. There was a sad little girl he had to talk to.
Hunk found Dorothy, changed into her play clothes, sitting by the chicken coops. She was picking grass absentmindedly, her thoughts obviously still on that day's conversation. She heard Hunk coming, but didn't bother looking up. After a while, Hunk sat down next to her. It was getting dark; Emily would call her in for dinner soon.
"What's with the red eyes Dorie? They're so much nicer when they're blue." Hunk teased. He was the only one who ever called Dorothy "Dorie" instead of "Dottie" or "Dot". Dorothy had been told that her father had called her "Dorie" too, though she could no longer remember much about her parents.
"I don't like blue anymore…" Dorothy sniffed.
"How come? Blue's a fine color. The sky is blue, the water is blue—why even some horses are blue!"
"They're not really blue, just gray." Dorothy said dully.
"Maybe not here, but what about in Oz? Didn't you say there was a horse that changed into many different colors? I bet that horse could turn real blue."
Dorothy stiffened. "Aunt Em and Uncle Henry said that I'm not allowed to talk about Oz anymore. They think it's making me bad."
"Aw, I'm sure they don't think that there's anything bad about you Dorothy. They're just worried, is all. It's the job of us adults to worry about you little ones.
"I guess…" Dorothy responded, though it was obvious that she was just itching to say how stupid she thought that idea was.
"Look Dorie, you're Aunt Em and Uncle Henry told you not to talk about Oz, so don't talk about it."
"Gee—thanks Hunk." Dorothy glared, and Hunk held up his hands in protection.
"Let me finish Dorie! They told you not to talk about Oz, so don't talk about Oz. But they didn't tell you not to think about it, or to believe in it."
Dorothy face scrunched up as she tried to sort through what he was suggesting. "But how will I think about it if I don't talk about it?"
"Hey, I think about lots of things I don't talk about."
"Like what?" Dorothy asked, drying her eyes on the sleeve of her dress. Hunk looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was listening before he said,
"Now don't tell anyone but sometimes…sometimes I think about finishing school."
"But you're so old!" Dorothy said, and Hunk gestured for her to keep her voice down.
"Hey now, I'm not that old. I'm only thirty."
"That is old" Dorothy insisted, and Hunk looked at her pointedly. Dorothy giggled, and Hunk's serious face broke into a smile.
"Okay, so I'm a little old. But you're never too old for school, and I got good marks when I was a kid too. I was the top of my class I'll have you know. And my dad always wanted me to get a proper degree and everything, and there are some schools that will take me on account of Grandpa—who was pretty well known in the city. Now you see, I've thought a lot about this, but you're the first I've told. But just because I didn't talk about it before, doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about it."
Dorothy nodded and smiled. Just then, Aunt Em announced supper. The pair got to their feet and made their way towards the house. Before entering, Dorothy stopped and asked,
"You know how you never told anyone other than me that you want to go to school?"
"Well, can I sometimes tell you the things that I'm thinking about, that I can't tell anyone else? Even if they're about…the place I'm not supposed to talk about anymore?"
Hunk smiled. "Kid, you keep my secrets and I'll keep yours."
I hope the first chapter piqued your interest, and I promise that more action will happen in the next few chapters. Really every chapter from here on out, actually. Constructive criticism is welcome, as always. Reviews are a good way to spread karma. ;)