It’s a familiar story. Little girl gets caught up in a really bad storm. As unbelievable as it sounds, her tiny farmhouse gets swept away, carrying her and her tiny dog along with it. They end up in a strange land where they encounter witches, a wizard, and a talking scarecrow. Seems like a crazy dream, right?
What ending is better for that little girl? Would it be better if the whole thing was a dream? What if it wasn’t a dream at all?
Dorothy was convinced that it was real. She knew that she had spent several days traveling through a magical land. She knew that she had made a number of friends and a powerful enemy along the way. But she was just a little girl. Would it be possible for her to convince her aunt and uncle that her incredible story was true?
Henry Gale was a practical man. He was a hard working farmer who didn’t have time for fantastic stories about a yellow brick road and city made of emeralds. Now, he loved Dorothy with all his heart. He loved her as if she were his own daughter. But this story that she had come up with since the tornado hit was just too much for him to take. Of course he had listened as she described her dream in vivid detail. A part of him wished it had been real, if only to get his hands on one of those emeralds. A precious stone could be sold and would really help with expenses about now.
But talking lions? A man made of tin? Henry had a hard time swallowing all that. Most likely, the truth lay in the child’s imagination. He and Emily were worried sick when Dorothy didn’t make it into the storm cellar. Once the storm passed, Henry searched all over the farm for the little girl, praying that she had found a safe place to ride it out. When he returned to the house, Em had her wrapped up in her arms. She was telling her story about a days long journey from a land of Munchkins to an Emerald City. But how could she have gone on a trip that lasted several days if she’d only been out of their sight for a few hours?
And now, weeks had passed by since the tornado. Emily was still indulging the child’s delusions. Henry could hear her asking Dorothy questions about “Oz” while he was outside working on the tractor. His heart melted whenever the little girl laughed about her adventures. And her laugh was contagious. It wasn’t long before he heard Em laughing along with her. Even little Toto would bark, as if he was joining in on the fun. And Henry had to smile as he lay on the ground with a wrench in his hand.
Maybe letting Dorothy hold on to this fantasy wasn’t so bad. Children should be able to explore their imaginations. They should be allowed to dream. He was certain that she would eventually grow out of it and would realize that Oz was all a part of an elaborate dream. There was a part of him, though, that was afraid that she wouldn’t grow out of it. What if she never accepted the reality of her imagination? He pushed that thought away. His niece couldn’t be crazy. She was just a little girl with an adventurous mind.