When your parents die, even if you hated them, there's an echo inside of you. A pit which, like an empty stomach, aches to be filled. But it never can be. The meal which you might eat to placate its grumblings loses a sliver of taste. It'll never be just like she used to make. The hug of a friend or loved one will never have the same protective blanket his did.

Dorothy tried not to think about it. Most days, she succeeded. She didn't dream about the accident as much. She no longer, most nights at least, woke from a nightmare where she felt she was drowning. She'd stopped seeing them, her parents, everywhere. It was only somewhere, now.

Her friends rallied around, as friends do. When she needed space, she had it. When she needed to cry, they offered their shoulders. When she had to get out and forget everything, they supplied the venue, the laughter and the alcohol.

Dorothy's aunt and uncle felt helpless. They had taken her in. She had a room, decorated just how she wanted it, and was well fed and looked after. She had all the love they could give. They had never had children of their own and had always been close to both Dorothy and her parents, her mother and aunt being sister. They gave her everything they could to help bury the pain she'd felt. It wasn't that she clung to it, like a treasured teddy she couldn't relinquish, it was more the memory held on to her as if her parents refused to let their little girl go even though they were no longer alive.

Dorothy loved her surrogate parents. She did. She told them as often as she felt able to. And, though they were not her mother and father, they were all she had. But the sorrow, loss and pit of darkness which so often threatened to engulf her was something she could not give up. It linked her to them. It connected her to their memory and she felt, if she let it go, she would suddenly lose them completely. Their memory would fade. Whilst she still cried or her mood swung down like the Reaper's scythe to tear through her smiles, it was almost like holding her mother's hand.

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The Wizard of Oz is a classic series of books which produced an equally classic film.  After writing And the Meek Shall Walk (Little Mermaid) and now writing Red Queen (Alice in Wonderland), I couldn't help but show some savage love for the Emerald City.

Don't worry, Alice and Aren are still actively being worked on.  Now, they just have a new friend!

I hope you enjoy the opening and are looking forward to walking the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy...

... or with Dorthy.....

Thank you to  for creating the fabulous cover!

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