1. A twister ripped through Flanders’ fields one withered Spring, strewing poppies all the way to Araby. They bloomed where they dropped—red petals peppering the mustard-colored earth. No one expected them, least of all the villagers on whom the flowery plague descended. Such a fragrant remembering, on the other side of the sky.
2. The villagers were waking when the twister arrived bearing its harvest bouquet. As the blossoms scattered, a yellow perfume blistered into being. It spritzed the wrists of women donning bright dresses, dusted the bottoms of babies waiting to be diapered, and settled onto the shoulders of young men preening in front of mirrors, flexing new-found muscles. Until now, their lives had seemed of such moderate, even miniscule proportions. But they were about to be thrust into a grim fairytale.
3. The poppies’ perfume traveled fast from house to house, heralded by the sound of sirens: Ding dong! Ding dong! A young girl stepped out her door, gathered quickly that her life had spun away from her, and ran fast fast go go go go go down the brick road.
4. When she was far out of sight, the sky cast off its whirling cloak and retied its blue and white checkered pinafore.
5. The survivors emerged from their homes and broke into a high-pitched keen: ”Rub your eyes! Get out of bed!” they cried, shaking the shoulders of their silent loved ones. But the poppies pinned their victims under the weight of a dark scent. Members of a concerned League were dispatched to survey the damage. They returned recommending that a wider study of the region’s fauna be undertaken.
6. O, those poppies possessed us all. Their pollen lulled cadres of black-shoed men into dozy heaps—so many suited scarecrows, their faces winsomed into smiles. ”What poppies?” they yawned sheepishly, and slipped under the grey coverlet of sleep.
7. Tucked up tight, the scarecrows dreamt straw dreams: of flying monkeys soaring far above villages, of wicked witches crushed by large, well-placed falling objects. We will not follow the yellow brick road until we know how this story ends.
8. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He’s well-protected in his emerald castle, his larger-than-life face floating eerily above the heads of his bowed subjects. Besides, if he’s unmasked, who can predict what damage those two witches will inflict, with their eternal inter-coven bickering?
9. By the time the monkey fleet arrived, the wizard was gone. Spirited over the desert in a rainbow-colored balloon, they say. The assembly of scarecrows stood inside their newly-secured green zone, searching the sky, while an army of tin men, their articulations freshly oiled, marched through the castle gates. In the dungeon, they found a labyrinth full of starving lions, their mustard coats mangy from the marks of electric cattle prods and duct tape.
10. It’s been many long months. Autumn has come, and the poppies’ seed-pods nod gravely over empty village walls, forming a brown and yellow brick maze through which the young girl, alone save for a stray mutt, meanders. She picks a sole surviving blossom and tucks it behind her ear, looks down at her calloused feet and thinks, There’s no place like home.
Kristin Agudelo grew up in Malaysian Borneo and exotic New Jersey. She is a currently a writer and high school humanities teacher at Merriconeag Waldorf school in Freeport, Maine. Her blog on women’s history and literature can be found at www.notablewomen.wordpress.com.