Toto’s Turn

 I have noticed a number of Facebook friends have lost their friends recently: dogs, cats, our pets are so much part of our families. A year ago, this month, we lost our collie. While thinking about all this today, I discovered an old manuscript for an old unpublished book of mine.
  Occasionally when I write I do a bounce off a more famous writer’s story. That’s what “Toto’s Turn” is. I shared this with many folks back when I first wrote it and have had requests for it over the years. I hope it has as much meaning to you as it has for us…

Written by Ken Carman

The_Wonderful_Wizard_of_Oz,_013 It was a windy day in Kansas. The blue had escaped the sky, as it so often did on Auntie Em’s old farm, when all that was left were high, dingy, grey clouds. The early November snow had whipped around so much the flakes had turned almost a light shade of black. Combined with leafless trees Kansas seemed to be a black and white world. In its own way… it was.
 Dorothy tapped her pencil on the desk inside the farmhouse… indecision. It tapped like the wind on her door. It tapped like falling tears.
 In the corner, by the door with towels stuffed in the crack to keep the cold out, was Toto. Since the coal heater was nearby it was the warmest place for old dog bones to be.
 She spoke to her old friend, wondering if he really understood her anymore.
 ”We shouldn’t have left Oz, Toto, but this is home. Who would take care of the farm? Everyone’s gone now but us. It was the right decision.”
 She half believed herself.
 Toto whined. It was a brittle sound, almost as brittle as the wind tapping on the windows. Then a cough… a bump… Toto had attempted to stand and comfort his mistress but, being almost blind, had bumped into the heater.
 She walked over to Toto and picked him up, cradling him in her arms with an embrace so gentle even an old dog with soreness everywhere would feel the love.
 ”Oh, maybe Auntie Em was right, Toto. She would say I’m a fool. She would say, ‘Soon the farm will be yours, Dorothy, and you’ll have to make the hard decisions. Sometimes an animal has suffered too much.'”
 Dorothy sobbed, because she knew what she had to do. One last time she went to the closet and brought back the red shoes. She put them on Toto. She said, “There’s no place like Oz, there’s no place like Oz…”
 Shortly after, Toto was gone. Dorothy knew he was in a better place.

 Later in the day she sat at her desk and wrote…

 ”…and the Wizard granted Dorothy’s wish, after he found the note tied to Toto’s collar. He made Toto young again, for his love for Dorothy, the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tinman had held the magic of youth inside his heart.”
 ”And the brave little dog guarded Oz and was treated with as much reverence as the Wizard himself.”
 ”He did not suffer from lonely either, for Dorothy, as promised before he left, found her way back to Oz from time to time, with the help of the Wizard.”
 ”They had many adventures, and though these adventures are not as well known, they were well worth each exciting moment…”

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Ken Carman
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