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Blackberry Stone

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Another flying dream. Ozma floats above her bed and above the palace and the city. She is being drawn north. It’s almost expected. She doesn’t often remember her dreams, with the exception of when she is dreaming, and in that dream space this sort of travel is routine.

Where will she go tonight? The barn? The briar patch? Old Mombi’s house? Oh let’s not go somewhere so dreadful, let us visit some friends first.

She averts her dreamtime flight, lands in the Munchkin Country. Now is the time when she forgets that this is a dream, which is the time when dreams really work their magic. She sees a farm with a blue barn and a house with little forget-me-not flowers painted all over it. Beside it an orchard of toffee trees.

Jinjur is home and Ozma takes tea with the former general and her nervous husband in their sunlit kitchen. Jinjur pours the teapot, which produces not tea but a distressing flow of dead bees. Ozma takes a sip and crunches on the bees. It is not dissimilar to eating popped corn. “Have you met my sister?” asks Jinjur, blowing on her teacup to cool it. When she does so, the bees shake awake and fly away out the open window. Ozma tries the same but her bees stay dormant. “My sister is visiting from out of Oz.”

Ozma is too preoccupied to figure out why her own bees won’t come to life when Jinjur gestures to the right of Ozma. Dorothy is sitting next to Ozma, knitting with long blue needles.

“Oh! That’s not your sister. That's Dorothy!”

“That is my sister,” says Jinjur with an intense glare. “She keeps bees, just like you or I or even my husband.”

“I do not keep bees,” says Ozma, confused.

“Oh. I think it is time you go then,” says Jinjur now rising from her seat at the table. As she does Ozma feels tired and decides to go home.

She goes home, in the way of dreams, by suddenly appearing at home. She takes off her purple cap and her mud stained shoes and tucks into the pallet by the hearth in the familiar round room.

There is a strong smell here that Ozma can't put her finger on. Has Dorothy tried some new perfume? No it is not Dorothy and it is too familiar to be new. She wonders if Dorothy will be coming to bed soon and realizes she has never seen Dorothy in this bed. The thought crumbles at a memory of watching Dorothy, just last night, not more than a few hours ago, braiding her long yellow-brown hair in the electric lamp light. But that was not this bed. That was her bed back in the city with the green comforters and velvet bed curtains. That was not this small corner tucked next to a gone cold cauldron and the smell of drying herbs and dense magic.

The image of her real bedroom and the image of her pallet in Mombi’s home criss-cross in her mental map of reality and dream space. Oh. She’s here again in this place that is not safe.

She looks around the room for any creeping sign of danger. She remembers other dreams like this. What will go wrong now that she’s here again?

Like clockwork there is a tug at the collar of her shirt and she is lifted off the pallet.

“What are you doing here?” says the disgusted voice of an old woman.

“I’m sorry!” Ozma is annoyed that her voice does not sound like her own, but that of a scared small child, “I don’t know why I keep coming here! Please!”

However hard she turns, she cannot catch sight of the witch. It is like her eyes are open but not.

There is a warm movement on Ozma's arm. It feels different from the grip on her collar and neck. It strokes up her shoulder and around and down her back and it feels… real.

A voice is in her ear, she can feel the vibrations of it travel down her jaw. “Darling you're alright.”

The grip on her collar loosens and the circular room fades and while there is the rhythmic sound of blood pulsing between her ears, Ozma feels herself floating and overwhelmingly safe until she is on the soft bedding of home again.

The dream disappears from her consciousness. The dream space locks itself away neatly into a little box and buries the key deep into the dirt.

Ozma opens her eyes. It is dark. Dorothy has her arms wrapped around her, is sleeping deeply. The clock on the mantle strikes four in the morning. Ozma counts the chimes and then yawns and falls back asleep.

There are no more dreams for the rest of the night. Not that she often remembers her dreams anyway.