Everything began and ended with green. Not that I was clear then, on what green looked like, but based on what I’d read - green being the colour of freshness, promise, new life - it had been my favourite colour far back as I could remember. I especially liked the idea of green meaning new life.
Until the tornado.
Afterwards, if I’d never seen anything green again that would have suited me just fine.
Red? Yeah, well, considering it was red that got me home again, I guess it has potential. But, knowing what I know now, it would have been better if things had stayed plain old black and white.
Adventures are all very well, but I’d prefer not to have them if what awaits you at the end is only disillusionment. By then, green had come to mean…well, just that – meanness, lies and simple down-right evil. The kind of evil that deserves to have houses plummet out of the sky and smack you in the head.
If you like fairy tales, don’t read any further. Trust me on this. But, if you’re partial to reality, forget the stories and any sappy songs you may have heard. It wasn’t like that at all.
Was there any truth to the story? Not much. Yes, there was a tornado, I went on a journey, I got home again. I had, still have, a dog called Toto. There were some weirdos and a creepy old man behind a green curtain. Yes. People died. But, there were no bluebirds, rainbows or flying monkeys.
Oddly enough, I still love the passion and drama of Weather! Tornadoes, thunder and lightning storms all deserve to be called ‘Weather!’; as opposed to drizzle and the odd patch of mist, which, due to their complete lack of enthusiasm, warrant no more than the basic ‘weather’. As long as you’re hunkered down in the storm cellar, preferably with a mug of hot chocolate and a faithful mutt at your side, Weather! is the best thing ever!
Tornadoes, obviously, are dangerous. You can die. A lot. This one, a gigantic, heavy, mile-wide, dark green monster had smacked into us before the radio guys in Haysville could fire up the generator and send out the warnings. One minute I was in the kitchen getting the fixings for morning pancakes out the cupboard, the next I was lying, bruised and battered in a field empty of anything except flattened grass and a long, yellow dirt road, with a frightened Toto licking my face and whining.
A word of advice, no matter how dire your circumstances, never go anywhere with three strange guys who say they know a guy who can help. At first, they seemed like nice folk. It didn’t take long before I discovered they were heartless, stupid and spineless. You think a clever kid could’ve been able to outwit them and escape before things got ugly, right? Believe me, once the penny dropped, I tried. But then, I was only fourteen. I was a girl. They had a gun and said they’d shoot Toto.
I’m not going to tell you gory details about what really happened, don’t worry. I have no desire to relive it. Let’s just say that Toto seldom let anyone he didn’t know near me again. Not that I wanted anyone that close for a very long time.
The story I told everyone when I got home will have to suffice, rainbows and all. But anyone who believes that must be stupid. My aunt and uncle…well, I sometimes doubt if I’m actually related to them. The Sheriff from Haysville, he knew exactly what had happened. I could tell by the look in his eyes. They often saw too much. Other times, he looked at me as if to say he knew in the end it would be alright. And, most importantly, if I needed him, he was there.
He was then the youngest Sheriff Haysville had ever had, being only twenty-two at the time. He’d worked at getting an education, not like other farm boys who barely combed the straw out of their hair. He was tall, soft-spoken and clean, with always neatly pressed clothes. He didn’t treat me like a child, but gave me room.
When he came back three weeks later, to tell me the one I’d nicknamed Tin-Man, and Oz - the old man behind the curtain, were dead and the other two were in jail, it was the look in his eyes which had given me the courage to leave the house again. I didn’t go far though for quite a while.
The trial was an ordeal. Sometimes, it felt worse than−
Kansas had the death penalty then. The Sheriff came ‘round when it was all over. I was sitting on the corral at the end of the yard, looking out over the endless fields of ploughed, empty, muddy, red-brown earth. Toto barked. He liked the Sheriff. So did I.
The Sheriff leaned against the fence, pushed his hat back a little. He was happy with silence. I liked that about him.
After a while, he said, “Be spring soon. Good time of year. Everything starts broken in the dark, pushes through, sprouts a little green, gets another lick of pretty colour, finally becomes what it was supposed to be. Funny thing is, never looks anything like its beginning. Bit like life, really.” His emerald eyes squinted at me in the sun, glimmering with a smile, kindness playing ‘round his lips, giving me permission to take what he’d said anyway I liked, which was good. He pushed himself upright. “Well, Miss Dorothy, I’ll be seeing you. Take care. Toto.” He patted Toto’s curly, walnut brown head, tugged the brim of his hat and walked away.
He stopped by occasionally to check on me, see if I was doing okay. He was a good man. He didn’t dwell on stuff, always said you could start fresh. So, six years later, I married him.
WRITER'S WRITE have issued a challenge: 12 Short Stories in 12 Months. Each story must conform to the prompt, word count and deadline given. It began in February 2017. I've accepted the challenge. Originally, once my story had been on the challenge's Facebook page for a day or so, I'd post them here. No though I am putting them into an anthology which I hope to self-publish early in 2019.