Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy – If Ever, If Ever A Wiz There Was

The Kansas she knew was neither the sepia-toned drab place of Auntie Em’s farm nor the Technicolor garden of delight found in Oz.  Kansas had no magic that Lindsay had ever known – it was just a place; a spot on the map in an insignificant region, a place where nothing happened except the occasional tornado or the wheat harvest come fall.   Although some people – her grandfather for instance – waxed about the beauty of the flat plains that spread out like a blanket beneath the relentless sun, the landscape had no appeal to her.   Something within ached for a canopy of trees, for leaves to shield the harsh sunlight, and for a cool, green place to sit with a book.   Lindsay longed for color, the soft pastels of blooming perennial flowers or the vivid hues of butterflies.  Instead she had the green of the prairie grass, the brown of the dust and soil, and the blue of the sky but no more than that.

Out from Dodge, the closest town of any size at all, wagon ruts remained in the prairie from the wagon trains that crossed these desolate plains.   Although the litter that the westward bound emigrants left behind was long gone, victim to both weather and time, Lindsay thought they had it right.   These open spaces seemed designed by God to serve as a trash dump, a place to leave behind unwanted baggage.

That was her dream, her goal; to put miles and miles of country between herself and the God-forsaken flat lands.   If she owned ruby slippers like Dorothy, she would have tapped her heels three times and been gone before she finished kindergarten.  Her hatred of the land, of this place dated that far back into her life, more than twelve years.

Strange considering how she felt about Kansas that she would find a heroine to admire in Dorothy or that she would love to watch The Wizard of Oz time after time without tiring of it.   She cheered when the tornado sucked Dorothy away and whooped delight when the house fell on the first wicked witch.   Those Munchkins were so cute, so sweet, such adorable little people even though last year she saw a few of them, still small but wizened into gnomes, on a television talk show and learned that they had fornicated and drank with abandon on the set.

She wished for friends as steadfast and true as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.   None of her so-called friends could be depended on for anything more than a spare pencil for sixth hour English.  Her godmother was a tiny, aged woman who chain smoked unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes and wore faded denim, not a beautiful creature in pink tulle who floated in a bubble.

Lindsay wore too much blue and white gingham, minced in small steps in the reddest shoes she could find at the Dodge City Wal-Mart, and named her little dog Toto.

Her dream was that one day a tornado would strike and take her away to Oz, to somewhere pleasant, somewhere where she could live in Technicolor forever.

Then one still and humid April evening a tornado watched shifted to warning and then a dark funnel cloud descended and she ran out to meet it.

Eyewitnesses reported that she seemed to be dancing as the cloud drew her upward and away, dancing and laughing and maybe even singing.

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