Her mother had been a refugee, displaced by a tornado. Her father had been a scarecrow, attached to a post.

They were both dead now. Mother had died from a respiratory illness, brought on by some subtle difference between the atmosphere of Oz and that of her native Kansas. Father had died during a damp season, when a mold had propagated through his insides, something like a cancer.

So, it was just her, left to represent them. A mixture of both.

Her skin was mottled, part flesh and part straw. Her bones were brittle. Her eyes, too, were weak—freckled with paint chips.

Inside her head, it was much the same. Beneath her soft skull, grey matter was entangled with yellow, which made it difficult for the neurons to fire.

Down the brick road, she went on crutches, each step a labor. As she hobbled, she imagined what it would be like, meeting the wizard. She plotted out her petition in what detail she could—as much, that is, as her severe cognitive handicaps allowed her to.

“Fix me,” she would say.

Zetetic separator

Rachel Rodman (www.rachelrodman.com) writes fairy tales, food poetry, and popular science. Her work has appeared at Fireside Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Expanded Horizons, and elsewhere.

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