no place like oz Page 32

It all made a certain upside-down sense. Last time I’d been to Oz, I’d had the power in my Silver Shoes all along, and I hadn’t even realized it. It would be incredibly stupid to make the same mistake twice.

So I sat down on the edge of my bed and tried to call for the Sorceress. I knocked my heels together. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to conjure her kind, motherly spirit. I pictured her smiling, impossibly beautiful face.

Something was happening. I could feel the red shoes trying as hard as I was. They constricted on my feet; they burned and tingled, glowing with energy. A few times, I even felt like I was getting somewhere: I could feel the Good Witch’s presence filling the room. Once, I even thought I smelled her perfume. But, no matter what I did, she didn’t appear.

I could feel the magic inside myself. I could practically see it sparking from my fingertips as I waved them through the air trying to bring her forth. Still nothing.

Maybe it was just that I needed to start with something smaller.

I walked to the vanity, sat down, and looked at myself. I examined my face closely. I thought about what Ozma had done earlier that day—about the way she had woven her fingers through the air and changed my hair and my clothes, and I wondered if I could do the same. So I closed my eyes.

And I know it sounds strange of me. I don’t even know where it came from. I know, but I imagined myself as a giant tree standing in the center of the Road of Yellow Brick, with roots that spread out from my feet and pushed deep into the core of Oz, drawing up magic like it was water. I imagined that Oz was feeding me. That was sort of what my shoes had felt like on the Road of Yellow Brick—like the roots of a tree that connected me to Oz.

I could feel it working. I could feel the power filling my body, and the more it did, the hungrier it made me. I felt more alive than I ever had before. I felt like I could do anything.

But I was going to start small. I squeezed my eyes, touched my hair, and imagined the magic working on it. I imagined it changing colors, flipping through all the different possibilities the rainbow had to offer until I landed on the most beautiful color I could: pink. The pink of a sunset. The pink of Glinda’s dress.

And when I saw myself staring back from the mirror, a lock of hair tumbled across my forehead, and it was even pinker than I had hoped.

I had done it. I had performed real magic. If I could change the color of my hair, what else could I do?

Well, I had the whole night to find out, didn’t I?

Once I started, I almost couldn’t stop. Some things were beyond me—I spent close to an hour trying to make myself fly, and the closest I could manage was something along the lines of a little bunny hop that probably wasn’t magic at all. I tried to make myself invisible, but all I accomplished was a distressing pallor in my complexion. And try as I might, I just couldn’t bring back Glinda.

However, there was plenty that I could do. Oh, just little things—useless things, really—but little is relative when you’re a girl from the prairie.

I transformed a crumpled-up stocking into a little mouse that Toto chased furiously around the room before reacting with utter shock when it turned right back into a sock. He turned to glare reproachfully at me when he saw that I was doubled over with laughter in bed. I gave myself a lovely manicure; I made a fountain pen float across the room. I made a pair of earrings disappear from my jewelry box and reappear underneath my pillow. I didn’t have to knock my heels to do any of it, but I found that if something was proving difficult, it did help.

I turned the pink stripe in my hair green, then purple, and finally gold before I decided that I liked my hair just fine the way it was before, and I waved it all away with a thought.

Once I started, it seemed like there was almost no end to it. All I had to do was think of something, and if I thought hard enough, I could at least nudge it toward reality. With a little practice—and a bit more imagination—I was certain I would be able to manage much more.

I fell asleep, still in my clothes, just as the sun was coming up, filled with happiness. I was in Oz, and in just a few hours I would be reunited with my old friends the Lion and the Tin Woodman. I was in my own beautiful room in the Emerald palace, and, for now, no one—not even Aunt Em and Uncle Henry—could make me leave.

Best of all, I had magic. It was mine, and Ozma herself couldn’t take it away from me.

Fourteen

I hadn’t even stepped all the way into the great hall the next morning when I was tackled. A ball of golden fur came flying right for me, knocking me backward onto the carpeted floor of the hallway. A big, wet tongue licked my face.

It only took me a short moment to figure out what was going on. “Lion!” I squealed, wrapping my arms around him. Or, at least as far around as they would go. “Is it really you?”

“Who else would it be?” he asked in a low rumble, drawing back onto his haunches and licking his lips, gazing down on me kindly.

The Lion looked different than I remembered—he was bigger and wilder now, his yellow-brown mane tangled and matted, his arms and legs more powerful. When I’d first met him, the Lion had been timid and frightened, startling at the slightest sound. Even after the Wizard had given him his courage, he’d seemed as if he didn’t quite know how to be brave. Now, I could see, he’d grown into it.

“I can’t believe it’s really you,” I said breathlessly, sitting up and blinking.

“And not just me either,” the Lion replied. “Look who else is here to see you.”