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Wizard of Oz- Part One
“Who do you think you are?”
She asks in the still of the mid-afternoon air
Without meeting her eyes I solemnly respond
“I am the Wizard of Oz.”
She seems quite perplexed and at a loss for words at this declaration
Feeling her confusion I reluctantly continue
“I hide behind a curtain and give a light and picture show
All the people see is the blinding lights and confident facade
I answer their questions, giving peace of mind
While I hide behind the curtain with only my fears and dreams as
They come and go never knowing, never caring about the soul behind
Confined in my own prison of fear
Fear that the people will see the true me
And walk away heads bowed in disdain
So I stand behind my curtain
Helping those that desperately follow the yellow brick road
Giving them their needed light and picture show
While I sacrifice away my fears and dreams for theirs
So that maybe through my forlorn darkness
They can shine through.”
We sit in brittle silence
Her contemplating my words, me in arrogant indifference
Minutes pass before I finish in a husky voice
“Nothing more, nothing less
I am the Wizard of Oz.”
Shane lifted her pen from the paper and looked
contemplatively at her words. It was moments like these, that she
felt the most alone. It was moments like these, that she felt
that her friends would never understand her. It was not that they
could never understand her; it was that they would never know her
enough to understand who she was. There was so much they did not
know. They did not know that she wrote. She wrote all the time.
Not stories, just poetry. Some long, some short, some sad, some
funny, but all remained unknown to her friends. They did not know
that she drew, and that the art work that was on the walls, was all
her own. *****, they did not even know what her place looked like.
They knew where it was, and Alice even had a key, but no one had ever
stepped a single foot into her place. They had all offered to help
her move in five years ago, when she had up-graded from a studio to a
two bedroom apartment, but she said that she could handle it. After
that, they had asked, especially Alice, to come over, but after so
many no’s, they got the drift and did not ask anymore. They probably
thought that the place was constantly dirty. Which was not really
true. How dirty could a place get, when a person rarely spent the
night there. She just did not want her friends inside her
apartment. IF they were, they would find out so many things about
her. Her writing and artwork of course, but there were other things
too. The music she listened to would shock them; the lack of
furnishings for a person that has lived on her own since she was
sixteen would shock them. She did not want to shock them, she did
not want to answer the questions that would surely come, and because
of this she sacrificed away so much of herself, that sometimes she
had a hard time remembering who she was, which would also shock
them. Shane lifted her eyes from the poem she had just written, as
she heard the sound of the phone ringing in the other room. Walking
into the kitchen Shane grabbed the phone.
“Hey Shane, are you busy?” Alice asked.
“No, I was just watching TV.” Which was rather ironic, because she
did not even own a TV, but Alice did not know that.
“Okay, well, Dana is freaking out about something Lara said
so could you come over here?”
“Yeah, sure I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Shane hung up
the phone and looked around the room. Yeah she was definitely the
wizard of oz.
Alice looked at the phone, than placed it on her desk. Shane did not even bother to say bye anymore. She would say how rude that it is, but it was not, it was Shane being Shane. But not only had she not said bye, she had lied about the whole TV thing. Alice’s eyes quickly grew larger. Damn it she was not supposed to know that. She also was not suppose to know that Shane wrote poetry or that she drabbled in art work, but hey she could not take the suspense of not seeing Shane’s apartment anymore. So when Shane had gone out of town for a couple of days Alice had covertly gone over and invited herself in. Shane had to know that she was going to do this at some point, why else would she have given Alice a key. It was amazing to walk into an apartment of a person that she had know for most of her life, and to realize that despite knowing Shane for so long, there was so much about Shane that was hidden away. Alice had spent two hours just looking around the apartment, she had always thought that the reason she had not ever been over, was that that Shane was a dirty person, but no the place was completely clean. No Shane had never had anyone over because she wanted to hide herself from her closest friends. Alice was kind of hurt by that fact, but than she realized with a deep laugh, that this was exactly who Shane was, the lone wolf, the mysterious one, the hidden soul, it would have gone against everything Shane was to let her friends in like that. It was Shane’s tragic flaw.
Alice looked around her own apartment, and laughed. If Shane’s apartment was a symbol of what Shane hid from everyone, than Alice’s apartment was a clear showing of what she allowed the world to see. From the writing desk smack in the middle of the room to the dry erase board that took up most of the wall behind the desk. Most people would not parade around her and her friends relationships and exploits, but Alice had never been one to shy away from her past, plus it was her proof to Bette, Miss not-everyone-is-sleeping-with-everyone-else, that she was wrong, because the board clearly showed that at least Shane was sleeping with everyone else. Alice’s head shot to the door, as she heard a knock. IT was Shane, she could tell by the impatience of it. For some unknown reason, Shane was the annoying type of knocker who did not realize that it could take people more than two seconds to open the front door. See there she goes again just banging away on the door. Alice walked over to the door, and thought about making Shane stand out there for a few more moments, just to annoy her, but with Shane’s luck a cute unknown girl would walk by and Shane would woo her, and then Alice would have to write her name on the board. So with a knowing sigh, Alice opened the door with a small smile.
Dana jumped up and down rapidly. Oh my god! she thought, actually it was all she could think. It was a brain shut down type of chant she did, when something great had happened to her. Oh my god, oh my god, OH MY GOD. She kissed me, she kissed me, oh my god, she kissed me Dana fell against the expanse of lockers with a delighted smile on her face. The smile fell away as a great wave of fear washed over her. She was not ready for this, the Australian Open she was ready for, the French Open she was ready for, but this she was most definitely not ready for. She was not like Shane where she could be completely free or Alice who could jump from relationship to relationship. She had never really been the type of girl that was asked out, or the type of girl who could ask someone else out. Which is why she had only been with two women in her life. One of which was an older woman who had seduced her when she was fifteen only for that same woman to throw her away a month later when a scout had seen her play. It was devastating, it had left her completely emotionally scorned, and scared of giving her self to someone else so willingly. The other one, she had forced away and even hidden from her friends because of her fear of being outed and ruining her career. No other flings, no careless one night stands, just insecurities and loneliness. There was so much doubt inside of her that she sometimes felt paralyzed by the sheer force of it. Shane had always been the one who could go with a woman have fun and leave it at that. The frown that had fused itself on her face immediately vanished and a smile once again erupted on her face. Oh my god, I beat Shane. Shane did her whole Shane test on her, and it didnt work. Oh my GOD, I BEAT SHANE Dana jumped up and down a few times realizing her feat. It was like beating Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon during the prime of her career, in strait sets. OH MY GOD, not only did Lara kiss me, but I beat Shane, AT THE SAME ***** TIME, OH MY GOD. I have to call Alice. Wait her and Shane went to karaoke night at the Planet. Which means that Shane will probably ***** someone to night. Damn her and her nipple confidence. Okay I will just call Alice later to night, and gloat to Shane tomorrow. Dana started to move towards the exit of the locker room then abruptly stopped, and looked down. Oh that would have been embarrassing. Dana moved back to her locker and opened it to grab her clothing. The country club benefits did not include walking around in a bath robe.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Staring intently at her computer screen, it took Alice a second to realize that someone had knocked on her office door. She was not expecting anyone coming by, and all her superiors were in the monthly meeting of all the heads of the magazine. The sound of a knock vibrated through the room once again, and Alice tentatively moved to the door. She was shocked to find a familiar woman on the other side of the door. A woman that she had never in her wildest dreams expected to see again.
The woman named Elizabeth arrogantly stormed into the room and closed the door loudly behind her. Where is Shannon? I need to talk to her immediately.
Alice did a double take, so much for a hello. she thought coldly. Why do you insist on calling her Shannon? She has gone by Shane for almost ten years now. Alice returned bitterly.
Why do you insist on supporting her in this mockery of a life she has going? Elizabeth snapped back just as harshly.
Because unlike you, I actually love Shane. And in case you didnt notice love means supporting and standing by someone, no matter what! Alice was fuming, she had always hated this woman with a passion.
Dont you dare tell me what love is or how I feel about my sister. You dont know a god damn thing about me-
No, I know without a doubt that you are an evil callous *****, Elizabeth! Alice stated, interrupting the other womans sentence.
Fine, Alice, think whatever you want of me, but where the ***** is Shannon!?
Alice took a step back and placed both her hands on her hips. What in the ***** makes you think I would tell you anything about Shane?
Because, if you love her like you say you do, than you would want her to know that her mother is dead.
Alice reeled back from the figurative punch in the stomach, with a slight gasp. When? was her only response.
Two days ago from breast cancer which if Shannon had ever tried to talk to any of us , she would have found out that mom had been fighting it for the last three years.
Why now? Why didnt you try to find Shane years ago? Was she so insignificant to your family?
Yes! No one in our family gave a damn about her after she walked out on us. Elizabeth shouted at Alice.
Walked out on?! Your mother kicked her out, when she was 15 years old. The only reason Shane didnt have to live on the streets or in a shelter was because of Bette and me! Alice yelled back just as angrily.
She could have come back at any time-
Yeah, she could have gone back only if she had gone into that religious deprogramming prison, your mother was so adamant on.
Okay, you know what, I have to bury my mother in two days, I dont need this *****. All I do need is to find Shannon and tell her that mom is dead and the rest of the details, if she even cares. So can you help me with that or not? Elizabeth asked in an exasperated tone.
Yeah, I can help you. Alice walked to her desk and grabbed her cell off the top of it. She hesitantly called Shane. Hey Shane, where are you? Are you going to be there awhile? Oh, I just have something I need to talk to you aboutNo I can meet you there I dont know if its okay to talk about in front of Dana, but I guess will figure it out Okay, Ill be there in a few. Alice looked back up towards Elizabeth. Shes at the Planet, and doesnt have any more appointments for the rest of the day.
Okay, where is the Planet? Elizabeth asked, a little confused about the appointment thing.
You can follow me, because there is no way in ***** I am going to not be there when you tell her.
Fine, lets go. I have to go to the funeral parlor after this. Elizabeth said turning to the door.
Yeah, can you wait outside for a second, I need to call my boss and tell him I am taking the rest of the day off. Alice watched Elizabeth nod and then quietly walk out the door shutting the door behind her. Alice fell into her chair, finding herself suddenly exhausted. Grabbing her cell she quickly made another phone call. Bette its Alice We have a major problemShanes sister just showed at my officeOh, ***** is right She want s to tell something important Her mom died I know, I have no idea how Shane is going to take itOkay, but here is the deal, Shane is at the Planet, and I am about to take Elizabeth there. Is there anyway you could get there before us? Okay I will just stall for a few minutes No, Danas already there, any more people and I think Shane would feel suffocatedOkay bye. Alice looked at the door to her office for a few seconds. The ***** was about to hit the biggest fan ever and there was nothing she could do to protect one of the most important people in her life.
Bette quickly rushed out to her car, got inside and started the engine. This was an emotional catastrophe waiting to happen. Seeing Elizabeth again after eight years was one thing, but to hear that her mother was dead, could send Shane over the deep end. Bette had always seen in Shane the fierce loyalty and protectiveness that she had for people she cared about, and no matter how much people had wronged her that loyalty and protectiveness was there’s forever. It was one of Shane’s greatest assets, but today it could be her downfall. Bette had personally witnessed along with Alice the metamorphosis that occurred when Shannon had gone from the semi-confident teenager to Shane the cool suave adult. Shane had had more bumps then most people but she had been strong and pulled through. Most people did not know that Shane’s birth name had been Shannon. Most people did not even know that Shane had an older sister, but Alice and Bette knew, they knew it all. The bitter struggle over identity, the loneliness that was still evident, the anger, and the hatred, had all been witnessed by two people and two people alone. And now it was up to those same two people to make sure Shane did not fall apart. Bette took a deep breath as she parked her car outside of the Planet. She had always felt a certain connection to Shane. Yeah, she usually mothered all of her friends, but out of them all, Shane was the one that needed it , depended on it the most. Yes, Shane was one of the strongest people Bette had ever met, but in the core of Shane’s soul was a scarred little girl, begging for someone to wrap their arms around her and tell that everything was going to be okay. Bette was going to be that person, the one to hold her, the one to tell her it was going to be all right, whether Shane liked it or not. It was Bette’s turn to be the loyal and protective one.
Rushing into the familiar caf, Bette haphazardly looked around the Planet for Shane and Dana, and could not find them anywhere. Spotting Marina behind the counter, Bette walked over to her and asked if she had seen the two.
Yeah they left a couple of minutes ago. They said they would be back in about half an hour.
Shocked, it took Bette a few seconds before she asked, Do you know where they went, or why they left?
No, I dont, just said they would be back.
Okay, thanks. Bette turned from the counter and walked back out of the caf. Grabbing her phone and dialing Alice, Bette looked around the area to see if she could see Shane and Dana walking up the street.
Alice, shes not here I dont know, Marina just said that her and Dana left and said that they would be back in about a half an hourI dont know Alice Okay see you in a few. Bette disconnected the line, and continued to look around the street. This day was getting longer and longer.
Shane was lazily leaning against the brick wall, as Dana covertly peered around the corner at the entrance of The Planet.
Why are we hiding here waiting for Alice to get to The Planet? Dana asked as she turned around to look at Shane.
Because, Alices phone call made me a little suspicious, so we are waiting here for her to go in. That way I can check out her body language see how serious this is. Also I like being in control without everyone else knowing I am in control. Shane told Dana once again, as she gave her fingernails a thoroughly tiresome examination.
Yeah, but why am I here?
You, Miss Dana, are here so I dont have to play the spy. Now eyes back on the entrance. Shane smugly told Dana as she finally looked up at her with a small smile.
Fine, whatever. Dana stated exasperated and looked back at the Planet, only to turn back to Shane the second she saw the face of her friend. Its Bette, Bettes here uh there cause you know here is here, and there is there, so she cant actually be here-
Dana, not that your usual rambling isnt cute, but we are on a mission here. Shane said as she moved to see where Bette was. Shane watched as she talked to Marina and then moved back out and seemingly frantically called someone that Shane surmised to be Alice. So Al called in reinforcements, thats interesting. A few minutes later, Shane was completely flummoxed as she saw Alice join Bette in front of the groups regular hangout, but that was not what shocked her, because of course Alice was coming to the Planet, but the woman that had walked up with Alice and had curtly said hello to Bette, made her breath catch and the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Shane was immediately angry, horrified, and amused as too why that person was with her friends, and why they were all desperately looking around to see if they could find her.
Dana must have noticed the change in Shanes attitude, because she placed her hand in the center of her back, and softly asked, Who is that woman?
Shes Shes my Shane did not finish her sentence as she blankly turned from where they had hidden themselves, and started to walk away from where the other women were standing. Dana watched Shane awkwardly walk away looking at the ground.
Hurriedly catching up with Shane, Dana reverently asked, Whats going on? Shane are you okay? Where are you going?
I dont know whats going on, okay Dane. Could you just leave me alone for a little while?
Dana quickly glanced back towards the where the other women were, unsure of what to do. Figuring it was best to go talk to Alice, Dana stopped walking beside Shane, and uttered a small okay, before turning around and walking towards Alice and Bette. Running around the corner, Dana moved to the group of women. Alice! Bette! Dana said as soon as she was close enough to the women.
Dana? Alice proclaimed shocked as she saw Dana coming toward them. Whats going on? Where is Shane?
She left, she saw her, and she left. I didnt know what to do so I came to get you.
Okay Dana, calm down and tell us where Shane went. Bette calmly told Dana as she soothingly placed her hand on Danas forearm.
I dont really know where she went, she was just kind of aimlessly walking. She wouldnt even really talk to me. Dana told Alice and Bette as she wildly gesticulated towards the way she came from.
Okay, Alice you and Dana track Shane down. Elizabeth and I will stay here just in case she comes back. Ill try calling her okay. Bette said as she characteristically took over the situation.
Alice nodded at Bette and then turned around and walked off with Dana. Once they were around the corner, Elizabeth breathlessly exasperated, I dont have time for this! But I shouldnt be surprised, Shannon was always at running away.
Yeah, well you were always good at being arrogantly self-righteous. Bette off-handily stated as she dialed Shanes cell phone number.
God, Dana where is she? I mean she couldnt have gotten that far, Shane doesnt understand the meaning of running or even walking fast. Alice talked to Dana as she searched for Shane.
Im sorry Alice, I shouldnt have left her alone, its just I didnt know what to do. Dana apologized as she realized her mistake.
Alice put her arm around Danas shoulders, Dana its not your fault, Shanes just well Shanes just Shane. Dont worry, well find her eventually.
Its that eventually that worries me.
Yeah, me to.
Alice and Dana walked for a few more minutes before they finally found Shane sitting on a bench for a bus stop. Shane? Alice tentatively asked.
What dose she want? Shane asked without even looking in Alices direction.
She wants to talk to you. Alice told her as she gingerly sat next to Shane on the bench.
A short bark of angry laughter escaped Shanes throat. I doubt that.
Okay, okay she needs to talk to you.
It really should come from her not me- for once.
No, why are you helping her? Shane asked as she finally made eye contact with Alice. Knowing whats done between us, knowing everything, how could you help her?
Because sometimes you have to help those you dont like, to help those that you love. Alice said as she placed her hand on Shanes shoulder.
Wow, Al, you dont usually get that philosophical until after a few drinks.
Yeah, well I kind of wish I had a few drinks in me right about now.
Youre not the only one. Shane said as she let her head fall low between her shoulders. I didnt think I was going to ever see her again.
Yeah, neither did I. So are you ready to actually see her again.
Shane slowly stood up and rolled her neck around, Yeah sure, what the *****. Lets go. Shane started walking to the Planet with Dana and Alice quickly following into step with her.
Um, Shane, who is that woman? Dana asked feeling utterly confused by everything around her.
Well, Miss Dana, that woman is my sister.
Dana stopped dead in her tracks. Youre what? You have a sister?
Shane and Alice both lightly chuckled, Yeah Dana, I have a sister. You know I wasnt raised by wolves.
Well I knew you werent raised by wolves, but a sister, why didnt I know you have a sister? Dana asked as she started walking again.
Its a long, really long story. Ill tell you later, okay?
The women fell into a tense silence, finally they rounded the corner and Shane stopped as Elizabeth spotted her. Hey you can do this. Alice told her as she put her hand in the middle of Shanes back and guided her the rest of the way. There was a painful silence as all the women starred at each other.
Look, Shannon, I dont have time for this. Frankly, I dont know how to tell you this, or if I even want to tell you, but mom died
How? Shane asked stunned by the declaration.
Oh. Was Shanes only spoken reply.
Yeah, oh. Well as much fun as this is I have to go to the funeral parlor now. Elizabeth said as she reached into her purse, and pulled out a white envelope. Here, before mom died she asked that I give this to you. Elizabeth said as she pushed her hand out in Shanes direction. Shane starred at the envelop for a few fleeting moments, and then pulled it from her sisters hands. I put my business card in there, if you want to call me later tonight to find out the details of moms funeral than I should be home after five, if not than have a good life. Part of me actually still thinks you deserve it. Elizabeth curtly nodded at the other women and walked off to her car.
Once again, a tension filled silence fell over the women as three sets of eyes fell on the woman staring at the envelope in her hands. Shane, you okay? Alice breathlessly asked her best friend. Alice waited a few seconds, but Shane seemingly in a trance never responded to the question, but simply walked numbly into the Planet closely followed by the three concerned women. Sitting in an empty table in the far back corner, Shane threw the pristine envelop on the table and continued to hollowly stared at it.
Shane? Shane? Shane? Alice looked to Bette and Dana after Shane once again did not answer her.
Bette moved a little closer to Shane and delicately placed her hand on top of Shanes. Hey, Shane, you in there?
Shane looked over at Bette and blinked a few times, Yeah, I am here. Look guys I am fine, okay?
Are you going to read it? Alice asked as she pointed to the envelope.
Shane you really should read it, it could be important.
Maybe its important, maybe it isnt.
Shane, you really should look at it. Alice pleaded with her.
You know what Al if it is so important to you, why dont you read it? Shane begrudgingly shot at Alice.
Alice looked to Bette who slowly nodded for to go on.
Okay Shane, Ill read it.
Alice grabbed the envelope and pulled out the handwritten letter, and put Elizabeths business card aside. Clearing her voice, Alice started to read the card aloud.
I never thought I would have to write this letter to you. I guess I always thought that at some point you and I could come to terms with each other, and now I know that will never happen. The doctors tell me I only have a day or two left, and I wanted to spend some of that time, trying to make right of all wrongs that I have done to you. I dont know if you know this, but it took me over two years to get pregnant with you. I had almost given up hope, but I didnt and I had you. You were so beautiful, and I have a feeling you still are. I dont know when everything changed. Shannon, I am so sorry for not supporting you in your lifestyle. I gave up hope on you and you didnt deserve that. I am sorry that when you told me you were a ***** that my response was to slap you across the face, and then to throw you out of the house. I am sorry that I refused to go to your graduation, and to help you through college until you started acting strait again. I am sorry that we went eight years without talking. But most importantly Shannon, I am sorry that I have never really told you that I loved you. When I was a child, I decided that one day I was going to have children and give them all the love that I possibly could. I must have forgotten that a long time ago. Shannon Shane I love you. I love you so much. I wish you could be here right now. I wish I could have been more of a part of your life, but I wasnt and that is entirely my own fault. I dont dare ask you to forgive me or to even love me, I doubt I deserve either. So goodbye my beautiful baby, may you find love and happiness.
Alice looked up from the letter and at Shane, only to find her friends face devoid of all emotion.
That it? Shane asked in a scratchy voice.
Yeah, thats all of it. Alice told Shane as she reached her hand out to Shanes, but before she could clasp hold of it, Shane was standing and walking away. Alice moved to stand up, but Bette put a firm hand on her shoulder.
Give me a second to talk to her first, okay? Bette told Alice as she followed after Shane. Bette was not surprised when she found Shane in the bathroom, with her hands on the sink to brace all her weight, and her head lying lowly between her shoulders. Shane?
Bette walked up and placed her hand in the center of Shanes rigid back. You want to talk about it?
Whats there to talk about?
Come here. Bette said as motioned for Shane to come into her now outstretched arms.
Bette, Im fine, really. Shane said as she straightened up and looked Bette in the eyes.
Good, thats great, humor me. Bette said as she allowed a small smile to grace her lips. Shane let out a telling sigh as she leaned into Bettes body for the embrace. Bette pulled Shane closer to her and held on tighter to her. Shane, I dont know whats going through your head right now, but we are all here for you. You dont have to be alone anymore Shane, you can let us in, we wont be disappointed. Shane I know that you are this whole cool, suave, charming person. But I also know that there is this vulnerable part of you that scares you, so you wont let us see her, but we know she is there, you can let her out. Shane its okay to be weak occasionally, to need someone else. Its okay to cry, its okay to let yourself cry. Bette calmly told Shane as she held her close to her.
Shane tried to pull away as she heard the bathroom door opening, but Bette held her tightly. Suddenly Shane felt two sets of arms being wrapped around her and realized it had been Alice and Dana who had come in.
I dont really know whats going on, but I just wanted to let you know that, I love you. Dana said with a hint of embarrassment in her voice.
I love you too Dane. And with that, Shane laid her head on Bettes shoulder, closed her eyes, and for the first time in year, let herself be comforted.