The Yellow Brick Road: #4

Norm Gibbons

“The land doesn’t touch the edge of the sky,” said little Miss Ringlet. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

She was tired and refused to go further, so the three of them sat in the middle of the road. They had been walking for three days in search of the yellow brick highway, which the green-face lady told them would lead to the City of Emeralds.

“Why did I wear my ruby slippers?” asked the petulant child.

“Hard to say, Miss Ringlet,” answered Jigger Dog.

“I should have worn my silver boots.” The typical sparkle in her eyes had tarnished to a pewter grey.

“I’ve always admired your silver boots, Miss Ringlet,” said the even-tempered, accommodating, stoical dog.

“Well, why didn’t I wear them then?”

Joining the conversation, Mighty Mule commented, “Your choice of slippers seemed reasonable at the time, Missy Ringlet.”

“But now my slippers are dirty and dusty and raggedy. I would much prefer to hear my silver boots tinkling merrily on the hard yellow road-bed.” Although the blue was somewhat faded from many washings, her frock still looked pretty.

Jigger Dog turned to Mighty Mule and quietly moaned, “She’s close to intolerable this morning.”

Mighty Mule gave a gentle, high-pitched neigh, “We all bear crosses.”

Annoyed that the mule and dog shared an intimacy, Miss Ringlet demanded, “Tell me what you just whispered to each other, or I’ll scream longer than forever.”

“Miss Ringlet, we were simply calculating the distance to the yellow brick road,” explained Jigger Dog, “If the sum of the square roots of the two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side, then Mighty Mule thinks we’re getting awful darn close.”

“You better be right,” threatened Miss Ringlet, “unless you want gloom to fill the day.”

The three travelers looked beyond the dusty road. Each of them indulged in private worlds of thought.

Jigger Dog hoped that once they found the yellow brick road, Miss Ringlet would chill out. He wanted her to curb her ambitions; the child craved too much, too soon. He felt a responsibility to his demanding ward. The dog, though old and worn away, resolved to generate thoughts of joy.

Mighty Mule stared straight ahead. He didn’t mind that the road was dusty; in fact, he dreaded walking on the yellow brick road, where every step would be a jolting metal-on-metal embrace. He knew nothing about Emerald City and expected nothing good to come from it. Now is a good time for angels to appear, he thought.

If Miss Ringlet had expressed freely and fully her inner turmoil, she would have admitted to her companions that a cyclone of ambition had thrown her off course. Ahead of her lay wild visions of wealth and fame, which she feared would never appease. Even so, a persistent, niggling feeling told her that the lure of Emerald City could never compete with that place called home.

Making an impetuous decision, the child jumped to her feet and said, “Let’s go back. I want to help my mom water the cabbages.”

“Suits me,” said Jigger Dog.

“You can ride on my back,” offered the generous Mighty Mule.

Author’s note: Many times an anonymous, unidentified black and white photograph suggests a story. I’m working on a B & W series.

Source: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum