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What's On The Other Side

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Dorothy had been in Oz for many years now. It was a time as peaceful, prosperous and happy as the people there had ever known. And Dorothy had begun to dream of Kansas.

She dreamed of herself, the life that she had there. Living on the farm with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. And she dreamed of a future. What would have happened if she'd stayed.

It was as vivid as Oz itself. How she would have grown up, the person she would be now. She could touch the dust that blew in a Kansas wind, she could feel the way dry grass would crunch under her feet as she ran through fields. She could see the shadow of a woman who had grown to be quite tall, and slender. She could taste the lipstick on her mouth. That was her life in Kansas. That wasn’t the life she would lead.

And when she woke up from those dreams, a young girl in a large palace bedroom set in another world, she couldn’t help but think of something that she had said a long time ago. "There’s no place like home."

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At present time, early enough in the morning that she didn't worry about being disturbed, a young girl stood in the middle of the Princess of Oz's royal apartments. And of course this girl was Dorothy, the only one who would dare to enter Princess Ozma's suite uninvited before she was even awake. Dorothy stood looking into a large, ornate, gold framed mirror. This, however, was no ordinary mirror in that it had the ability to show those who needed it any person or place they wished to see. Dorothy would often look into the mirror to check on her friends, to discover her next adventure. Dorothy’s most important adventures, she supposed, hadn’t been planned at all but stumbled into accidentally. There weren’t many adventures anymore, accidental or not. Dorothy knew she shouldn’t wish for trouble and she didn’t. So that left Dorothy, who with no particular subject to look for in the Magic Picture mirror, looked at herself.

“Ozma”, Dorothy began to ask, for by now the Princess had awoken and had come to stand behind her dear friend. “Do you suppose that I look older?”

Ozma’s musical laugh filled the room. “You look the same as you always have to me, my dear.”

Dorothy sighed. The girl in the mirror, still half-grown and baby fat, sighed back.

A frown settled on Ozma’s lovely face. “We haven’t forgotten your birthday, have we, Dorothy?”

Dorothy turned to throw an arm around her sweet friend and press a kiss to her dark hair.

“Of course not.” Dorothy quickly reassured her. “I was just thinking that things change so quickly in Oz at times. People come and go, spells get cast and broken. But I’m just the same as I was when I came here from Kansas so long ago.”

Ozma gave her a brilliant smile. “I’m afraid I can’t share your disappointment in that fact. Because I do love you just the way you are.”

That made Dorothy laugh, though the happy sound was not fully reflected in her eyes. “That is why you’re the greatest friend a girl could have.”

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Days later, Ozma waited for Dorothy to come to her suite to share lunch with her as they planned. Jellia Jamb, Ozma’s  maid, who had been sent to find Dorothy in her rooms came back without her. So Ozma searched for her friend throughout the palace grounds. The Pink Kitten, dozing under the dining room table, said that Dorothy had passed by but didn’t say where she was headed. The Patchwork Girl cartwheeling through the ballroom was in her own world and no help to Ozma‘s cause. Button Bright, playing in the courtyard, was simply pleased that he wasn’t the one who was lost this time.

The Princess eventually made her way to the palace gardens, greeting several of her subjects along the way. And there in the middle of the daffodils, was Dorothy. She sat under a large, shady tree staring into the distance, her little dog Toto asleep next to her. Ozma gladly joined them there, and from where they sat Ozma could see what had so entranced her friend. She watched Aunt Em and Uncle Henry as they picnicked in the lilies, laughing tenderly together at their private jokes.

“No one gets married in Oz anymore. Not anyone, for years.”  Dorothy reminded her friend.

Ozma nodded. “That’s true.”

“I always dreamed that I would get married. One day, when I got older.”

Ozma thought that Dorothy sounded very far away. It worried her. Ozma didn’t know the world outside of Oz. She didn’t know what Dorothy was missing. She would offer it to her if she could. But she had already given Dorothy all Oz had to offer. A new home, friendship…

Immortal and ageless life.

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It was difficult to find time alone with the Princess of Oz. There  were so many who needed her time and attention. The intimate moments that Dorothy got to spend with Ozma on her own were rare and special. They had decided to walk a little ways down the yellow brick road, a road that Dorothy had been down many times before. It was a particularly bright and lovely day, and Dorothy delighted in making her friend laugh as she recounted tales of her adventures. Tales that Ozma had heard many times before but always delighted in the way that they were told. Each time they were new again.

They reached a bend in the road, and Ozma took her friend’s hand. The sunlight shone around them. They were in the middle of Oz in all its glory.

"Would you go back to Kansas if I could send you there?" Ozma asked quietly.

Dorothy paused. And then shook her head and smiled. "When I first came to Oz, all I wanted to do was go home. When I was home, I missed Oz terribly. Sometimes I forget where I belong, where I'm meant to be."

Ozma laughed and pulled her friend close. “I think you're meant to be here. With me."

Dorothy laughed along with her, enjoying the strength of Ozma's love. "And why is that?" She teased. She thought to herself that she knew the answer, that she had always known the answer.

"Because Oz is the land of your dreams, my dear, and I hope that never changes.”