Flash Friday: There's Something You Should Know
The last few nights she had a recurring dream about her brother, Tommy. They were lost in Oz and didn't have any idea how to get home. He lay in the cornfield at the feet of a scarecrow, hands on his head and laughing. He shouldn't be laughing, she thought. He should be scared or angry. Why wasn't he angry?
She pushed her way through the cornstalks, leaving a path out to the road. The empty road. No yellow bricks, no Toto, no Tinman, no witch. Just an empty Nebraska cornfield and a very blue and purple sky.
Puffy yellow clouds raced each other to the horizon. Birds sang, stalks whispered, and Tommy laughed. He hooted and howled. She waited for him to wind down, to catch his breath, to look at her. Acknowledge her.
"You know," he said and startled her with his cheerful voice, "I do believe this is the craziest scarecrow I've ever seen."
She gazed at the figure nailed to two pieces of wood, like Jesus on the cross. Polk a dot pants, striped pink skirt, white clown shoes and a black big brimmed hat, all stuffed full of corn husks. It smelled of grass and red wine and dust. Faceless and hand less, it flopped with the wind.
"Does it remind you of anyone?" her brother asked.
She shook her head and waited for him to enlighten her. Didn't they have more important things to do, to talk about?
"He looks like I feel." Tommy pushed to his feet and slung an arm over her shoulder.
"Like a bad fashion statement." She kept her tone light and cheerful to match his.
He chuckled. "Stuffed with useless bits."
"How can we fix it?" She leaned her head against his chest and listened to his failing heart.
"We can't. But we can do this." He reached into the sky and snagged one of the yellow clouds. It pulled them into the sky and they landed on the feather soft back of a horse. Clouds shaped like cars, trucks, feet, bicycles, and more swept along on an airy racetrack. She blinked and focused on people riding the clouds. Nana, uncle John, Jollie her cat, all long gone.
"You can't stay, babe." Her brother said as they zoomed across the sky.
"You can't either; not yet." She held on to him and closed her eyes, blocked out the sight of those she'd known and hadn't known, as they passed by.
"Did you notice anything about these clouds?" He nudged her and she opened her eyes. He grabbed a handful of the horse's cloudy mane. A yellow footprint formed in his palm. "What's at the end of the yellow brick road?"
"Life. Peace. Happiness." She ventured and wanted it to be the truth.
"Nope. The castle. The next step."
"Be brave," he said with a smile.
"Why? Why do I have to brave?" Her grip slipped as he became more insubstantial, a part of the cloud.
"There's something you should know..." His voice trailed off, echoed in her head as she woke in her bed, in her apartment. The sun shone through the window and left trails of light in the dust, like the tears on her cheeks.
"There's something you should know," he said, minutes before he passed away. His eyes slipped from her to Roland, their best friend, and back again. "I found my courage."
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