This story is paired with Chapter 4 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free.
He called me his girlfriend even though I paid rent. His response to everything, and I mean everything, was to yawn, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Say our boys wanted new sneakers for Little League. He’d say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
If I winked at him—he was a cheapskate but admittedly good in the sack—he’d say, “Whoopie, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.” He even said it in the heat of the moment, as if that state wasn’t hot and humid and uncomfortable. “Baby, we aren’t in Kansas anymore,” he shouted time and again. “We. Aren’t. In. Kansas”—and loud enough to be heard over the roar of a tornado— “Anymore.”
“Mama,” Tevin said one night, “why does Daddy shout Kansas?”
“Yeah,” Kevin, the smart ass added, “why not Tennessee or Virginia?”
“I guess he wishes we lived in the Midwest,” I said, blushing, not noticing he’d snuck down the stairs in his socks.
“Well, baby,” he said, “we can go back to Kansas if you want. Oklahoma, too.”
I was packing Tevin and Kevin’s lunches, but I was ready to motor on through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. I’d take that trip two, three times a day. Or at least I had been ready up until the twins were old enough for all day school.
“Baby,” he said one day when they were done with first grade and we’d been doing our Toto tour for seven years, “maybe we should let my ma take the flying monkeys and we can visit the real state of Kansas, find us some satisfaction.”
“I think you’ve got your movies and songs confused,” I said.
He made reservations, promising me the honeymoon we never had. I thought we’d drive the yellow brick road, end up in a palace with a pool and room service, fluffy pillows smelling of sunflowers and stars.
We drove straight through.
In Indiana I imagined we’d eat in a restaurant with strolling violins. He’d wear a suit. I’d be beautiful like the Good Witch. I hummed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Around the Illinois border I asked. “Where in Oz are we staying?”
“We’re going to Kansas.”
“But Dorothy was in Kansas when the tornado picked her up and took her to Oz.”
“Yeah,” he said like he meant Duh. “I got us a cheap place so we can rent porn.”
“But…I wanted Oz.”
He shook his head. “Oz is just Kansas.”
“Then why are we going?”
“Because.” He slid his hand up between my clenched thighs. “You know.”
I knew. No pool. No room service. No use clicking my heels. Soon he’d want help with the map, meaning unzipping him. He’d half-whisper, half-gasp, arching his back, “We’re almost there, almost in Kansas.”
I’d look out the window waiting for fields of corn to appear, humming, “If I Only Had a Brain” under my breath.
C.A. Cole often writes flash on Fridays with a friend in a Colorado coffee shop. About half of those efforts have been published, including in The Broken Plate, and various places on line. Some of the others have appeared in drafts of novels.