Today’s entry in my rewrite of Oz is a little different in that it finishes Chapter 2 and starts Chapter 3. I started this not knowing if I would post daily or by chapter, but seeing how the daily goal keeps me focused, I think I’ll try to post daily regardless of where I am within the chapter. This is an ongoing NaNoWriMo project, which you can read about here.
Questions before I started writing…
What would it be like in the middle of a tornado? In the original story, Toto falls through the trap door while the house is flying, do I want to keep that? How would Emily respond to Dorothy being taken by the tornado? When Dorothy arrives in Oz, would she understand the things we take for granted, like fruit trees?
Raw writing, Day 3
Chapter 2, continued
The north winds and the south winds had met exactly at the small farm in Kansas, making the home the direct center of the tornado. The trap door slammed down over Aunt Em, surrounding her in darkness. She huddled on the dirt floor, the air still in her dark cavern. She heard creaking and moaning and suddenly began to feel the wind again as it brushed her shoulders.
Within moments, the wind was around her, pushing her hard against the dirt floor. Her ears popped and she looked up, the trap door hovering above her, space around the four walls, lifting higher. She screamed Dorothy’s name and tried to reach for the house, wanting to pull it back to her. The wind pulled at her arms, pushing them back to the earth. Her screams were silent, stolen by the storm as it stole her only child
The house rose higher, spinning above her. Emily watched it shrink as it lifted away from her. The winds softened around her. The tail of the tornado pulled up into the sky and disappeared in the clouds.
Emily collapsed to the ground and sobbed.
Dorothy lay hidden with the bed covers over her head, Toto pressed at her side. The spinning of the house kept them pressed against the corner of the bed, against the wall. Pressure built in Dorothy’s ears and then popped, only to have the pressure build again and again.
Dorothy could feel the little little dog tremble against her, but when she tried to speak to him, to calm him, she couldn’t hear her own voice. The sound around them was a roar, a constant scream that filled her ears and made it hard for her to find thought. They lay there, trembling under the covers for what seemed like hours. The pressure on her ears slowly lessened and in time Dorothy realized that she and the dog were not pinned so tightly against the bed and the wall.
The terrible shaking of the house had become a gentle rocking, although the roar of the wind deafened her. She pulled the covers off and peeked about the room. It was very dark, with just enough light to make out the shapes she was so familiar with. She could see swirling darkness through the windows. Everything in the little house had been shifted, moved, pressed to the edges of the single room. The table where they ate their meals had slid to one corner and the chairs lay in a tangled heap around it. Auntie Em’s rocker had slid next to Dorothy’s bed and was rocking with the movement of the house.
Toto peeked out of the blankets and then buried himself deeper into the blankets.
The sway of the house became so gentle that Dorothy began to wonder where they were. She climbed out of the bed, leaving Toto bundled in safety. Her first step was unsteady and she started to lose her balance, but stuck her hands out and waited for a moment. When she found her footing, she took another step and another.
She walked to the window but could see nothing other than gray swirling light. She could hear sand hitting the glass in a pinging and occasionally something larger seemed to hit the walls. She went to the front door and pulled, but it wouldn’t move. She felt that she was locked in, and this made her heart beat faster. She pulled for a few moments, hoping she could unstick it, but the door gave not the slightest motion. This left the cellar. She wondered if Aunt Em could still be down there and walked slowly to the heavy trap door.
When she lifted the door, she expected it to be heavy, the way it was when the house sat in Kansas. She pulled as she would have pulled at home and was very surprised when the door flung back on its hinges, completely opening to below. She expected to see dirt, or perhaps water because of the way the house rocked. What she did not expect to see was space. Air. A long blurry grey tunnel circled beneath her.
She jumped back from the hole, leaving the door gaping to the cyclone below. No wind came into the house, and even from where she stood, she could see the space beneath the house. Curious, she tip-toed forward again and then got down on her hands and knees to peer out at the world below.
There was no wind coming up from below the cellar door, the air was quite still. She could see the swirling bands of the tornado around her, but the center itself was calm. Laying on her belly, she stuck her hands into the space, watching them move with the dull gray light. Then, feeling braver, she sat on the edge of the cellar door with her legs dangling below. She sang a song to herself but could hear nothing over the chaos of the wind. And so she sat and watched, her feet dangling into space.
She felt a nudge at her left arm and there was Toto, apparently as curious as she was. He pawed at the air above the trap door, and then sat at her side, watching the long tunnel below them.
In time, Dorothy became bored. She closed the cellar door and began to sweep and tidy the little house. She didn’t want Auntie Em to see the house this way and set about to make it right. She moved the table and chairs back to their rightful place. She felt true sorrow when she saw Auntie Em’s china plates, broken on the floor.
She swept up the pieces, and not knowing what to do with them, she tossed them out the cellar door. They did not fall but rather hovered in that space below. Dorothy watched the pieces float for a moment, and then went back to her work, closing the door so that she would not have to worry about Toto falling through.
The sugar bowl had not broken but was only chipped. Dorothy placed it in the center of the table and set the utensils right. She placed the tin cups in their proper places. Then she moved the rocking chair back in front of the hearth. Taking the quilt from Uncle Henry’s and Auntie Em’s bed, she wrapped it around her and sat and began to rock. Toto jumped into her lap, curling up into her warmth and safety. Dorothy hummed to herself, even though she couldn’t hear herself. With the rocking of the chair and the rocking of the house, Dorothy and Toto soon fell fast asleep.
Dorthy awoke to a sudden jolt as she and Toto were both knocked from the rocking chair. She lay stunned for a moment, not knowing why she was lying on the floor. Toto was beside her looking quite as surprised as she was. Then he began to run from corner to corner sniffing. Suddenly he gave a bark. She realized that she could hear him again and felt a great relief that her hearing had returned.
“Where are we, Toto?”
The house sat at an angle, no longer gently swaying. She moved to her knees for a moment, unsure if the house would move yet again, and noticed a bright light shining through the windows. She got to her feet and ran to look but the thick glass was warped and pitted and dirty.
“This will never do,” she said to Toto and made her way to the door, wondering if it was still stubbornly stuck. Toto ran excitedly to her heels, wagging his tail frantically at the door. Dorothy put her hands at the knobs, twisted it, took a deep breath, and pulled. The door opened easily, opening to a world very different than the one that Dorothy had left.
The gentle yellow light cascaded over a world of intense color. Dorothy had no memories of her time before Uncle Henry and Auntie E; their Kansas farm was all she had ever known. To her, it was beautiful; the swaying grasses in the fields, the pale blue sky that seemed to go on forever. She loved the yellow hair of the corn and the way the green sprouts burst from the ground, ready to grow. But all of it looked pale and gray compared to what she saw before her.
She stood in the doorway, frozen, unsure whether to close the door and step back inside (as Aunt Em most certainly would have done), or to take a step out. And so she stood.
Before her stretched green grass dotted with bright yellow flowers. There were trees beyond the grass covered in brightly growing fruit. Growing up on the plains of Kansas, she had never seen fruit trees. Her knowledge was of plants that grew from the ground. Once, Uncle Henry had brought her something called an orange when he traveled to town. He had told her that he himself had only had them on very rare occasions. But Aunt Em said they had had them when she lived in the city as a child.
The things that grew here reminded Dorothy of the orange, only in many shapes and colors. Dorothy was also only slightly familiar with trees. For the trees that grew near the farm were often dead and broken, if trees grew at all. To the right of the trees were rows and rows of tall, brightly colored flowers. Dorothy did know flowers, but only those that become food in which to eat and the dandelions that the bees loved.
She could hear the sound of water and saw a creek that ran just beyond the trees, sparkling and babbling in the sunlight. Through the trees and along the banks of the river were birds. She knew them to be birds for she had made friends with the crows and ravens of the farm. These birds stood differently, with long graceful necks and jeweled plumage. The birds in the trees sang sweetly and the flowers seemed to sway to the song. The girl whose every memory was of the dry, often gray prairie, was overtaken by the beauty of it all. She stood transfixed, and even Toto sat silently at her feet.