"I love that movie," Dorothy's mother sighed.
Dorothy was frowning slightly at the television. "I wish she could have stayed in Oz."
"Oz was just a dream, love."
"Yeah, but I wish she could've." Oz was colorful, and had multichromatic horses and magic and adventures. Kansas was a bleak, gray plain with nothing but emptiness and wind. "I would've."
She knew she'd said the wrong thing when her mother went still. "You'd leave me behind, then?"
"But, sweetheart, that's what you just said. That if it was your choice, you'd run off to Oz and abandon me, without even a goodbye."
"No! No, mum, I didn't mean that, I just meant–"
"Oh, sweetheart. I know it's been hard, sometimes, with just you and me, but I've always tried to be a good mother to you, Dorothy. I've always put you first, love. You know that. I thought you knew that." Her voice wavered. "But sometimes you say things that make me wonder if–well, if you really love me at all . . ."
Dorothy was crying now. "Of course I love you, mum!" She hugged her mother, who was dabbing at her own face with a tissue. "I love you more than anything in the whole world, you know that."
"Yes, but, sweetheart–you don't always act like it. I know I'm just being silly, worrying the way I do, but–"
"I'm sorry, mummy. I'm really, really sorry. I'll do better, I swear. I'll clean my room properly, I'll–"
"Is that really all I am to you? A tyrant who makes you clean your room?"
"But, sweetheart," her mother repeated, with sorrowful patience, "that's what you just said."
By the end of it, Dorothy had assured her mother of her love, several times through hard sobs, and promised to try to be a better daughter and never to threaten to run away again. She left the conversation knowing two incontrovertible facts.
The first was that she always got it wrong. Whatever she said, whatever she did, it was never the right thing to say or do. She was a horrible daughter, a horrible little girl. And–more proof–she didn't always even want to be good. Sometimes she just wanted to yell and get angry and smash things to pieces.
The second was that she hated that stupid, stupid movie.
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