Thursday Doors Writing Challenge– Under the Rainbow

This short story was written for Dan Antion’s (No Facilities) Thursday Doors Writing Challenge. It was inspired by a painted door I saw at a local artists’ village. A little warning, this story is a bit darker than the other ones I’ve shared.  

Under the Rainbow                                                                                      

Dorothy shifted uncomfortably in her hard plastic chair. The air in the room was stale, smelling of early morning coffee breath. She looked down at her watch and was irritated to find that she still had 15 minutes left of this slow death.

Edmond, the insufferable little English prig was droning on and on about his brother and sisters, a closet (or, as he called it, a “wardrobe”), and some people who were turned into stone. We all have problems, Dorothy thought, why should I care about yours? She was about to fake a heart attack just to get out of there when Edmond said something about a lion and a witch. What the heck? Had he been there too?

When the group leader ended the session with his usual feel good, namaste BS, Dorothy made a beeline for the door. As soon as she stepped outside, she lit her fourth cigarette of the day and inhaled the fumes as if they gave her life. Scanning her surroundings, she felt as flat, dusty, and depressed as the landscape. “I flipping hate Kansas” she mumbled under her breath.

“What’s that?” Damn, it was that new girl. Pretty, blonde, and another English accent. “What did you think of the session?” Miss Priss asked smiling.

“I’ve been coming for three years and still haven’t gotten anything out of it,” Dorothy answered, hoping to cut the conversation short.

“Alice, my name is Alice,” Miss Priss said, extending her hand. “I feel like I’ve been chasing down rabbit holes my whole life and would really like to stop. I hope these meetings can fix me.”

“All of us are here for the same thing but I’m starting to wonder why we would want to leave those other worlds and exist permanently in this one,” Dorothy replied. “They might have contained dark magic and evil forces, but at least they were interesting.”

“You’re right,” Alice replied. “It wasn’t all Red Queens and madness. I had some opportunities for personal growth too.”

“Well, good luck,” Dorothy offered as she stubbed out her cigarette on the side of the building. “I hope you find what you need. I think this will be the last Rentering Reality support group I’ll attend.” Dorothy walked away without a backward glance.

As she headed home, she thought about her sad, miserable life and how everyone she loved was now gone. First, Auntie Em wasted away from cancer, then Uncle Henry drowned in bottles of cheap gin. Toto One—her only witness to her adventure—was dead. Even Toto Two had the good sense to run away and never come back. Why bother sticking around this god-forsaken place? she asked herself. Why exist in a black and white world when you can live in color?

Approaching her house, Dorothy fully grasped the property’s decay for the first time. The garden, once Auntie Em’s pride and joy, was covered in weeds. The barn and livestock pens—where the terrifying pigs had been kept—were almost as flattened as the Kansas topography. Her house was headed in that direction too; missing roof shingles, rotted siding, and dangerously uneven front steps. The sudden wash of guilt Dorothy felt nearly brought her to her knees.

Once inside, Dorothy knew exactly what she needed to do. Before she could change her mind, she headed for the cellar. As she descended the steps into darkness, she could see a faint red glow in the corner.

The ruby slippers were waiting for her, just as they had been for many years. Dorothy carefully put them on, not surprised at all that they fit perfectly, despite her shoe size changing over time. Looking down at her feet, Dorothy started to click her heels together: one… two… three…

“There’s no place like Oz, there’s no place like Oz, there’s no place like Oz.”


Don’t forget to check out the other submissions for the Thursday Doors Writing Challenge and – who knows? – maybe you’ll be inspired to add one of your own.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

93 thoughts on “Thursday Doors Writing Challenge– Under the Rainbow”

  1. Neat story to go with the door image! I thought it was a neat twist to the story and I really enjoyed finding out the therapy session was for others like her. I like that it has a happy ending and she gets back to Oz maybe Alice can get back to her Wonderland too. 😀

  2. Janis — You have a real gift for the short story form! Are you reading George Saunders’ blog about stories? I think he’s inspiring.

  3. Such a delight! Gripping from the very beginning, I could FEEL, SMELL, and TASTE her misery. And the “was he there, too” threw me off initially since it was Dorothy, and not Lucy. So creative, I love the look through these different reality lenses of stories and characters we thought we knew so well.

    Dorothy has some willpower to not wear those red slippers more often… 😁

      1. I did like it very much (though with your warning I was expecting some morbid happenings, glad I didn’t find any dripping limbs scattered around 😁). And it wasn’t until I read it that I realized the lion and the witch overlap, which IS funny given how many times I read both and knew that to be true. It created an extra layer of enjoyment in revealing another facet of stories I thought I knew!

          1. Just started our house improvements this week. I hear ‘ya, it’s hard to focus on writing. It’s easier to go around and comment elsewhere.

  4. I like this very much, Janis. Returning from OZ couldn’t have been all that interesting, after the initial happiness faded. I liked the twist at the end, but I can well imagine Dorthy heading back to OZ. That welcome song is playing in my head 😉

  5. Well, at least Dorothy gave it a go…so her leaving “Reality Rehab” was decided in a mindful manner! HA! I loved your premise and use of those specific fictional characters – a good read with a zinger of a ‘moral’ and/or social statement to boot! Who knew all those very cool door photos you took back in your travel days would be put to such a great recycled use, huh?

  6. Love the story. Love the door even more. I’d steal it, but my HOA wouldn’t allow it. Sad to see the security details on the door, apparently necessary. I didn’t notice them at first.

  7. Great story! Who wouldn’t want a pair of Ruby slippers. Btw, we used to read the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe each week in Year 5 at school. It was a favourite of mine too!

  8. Haha!!! This is FUN in a really great slightly twisted way, LOL!!! I went back and read it a second time to absorb it all. So interesting to think about the places we long for, and what it would really be like to return to them. This is very creative.

  9. Having lived in Kansas for a little over thirty years, this certainly captured my attention and brought a smile. It is a wonderful take on Dorothy and the crew. As always, your writing is wonderful, and thank you for sharing with us.

    1. I hope to be back more often (although I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never have a regular schedule 🙂 ) when we are done with a big house project. I think we’d all like our own personal ruby red slippers… good luck finding yours!

  10. A very creative story! I was engaged from the beginning to the end. Knowing how to live in the real world when the magical one is far superior is tricky, but Dorothy seems to have a solution. 🙂 Very well done!

  11. It sounds like you managed to combine loads of references and characters in this story, Janis. I never watched or read The Wizard of Oz but I recognized some of the characters that I heard people talk about. What a fun exercise to imagine them all outside of their own realities, into our world and as adults… I enjoyed reading your story!

    Hope there’s progress on the other side of the back windows. 🙂

  12. Very creative. I did read the book “Wicked” (very different than the musical), so it was interesting seeing still another spin on the story of Dorothy and Oz. I’m just not sure her return to Oz will be what she hoped. See, you got me thinking!

    1. Maybe I should remove that line about the story being dark. Most of my short stories have happy endings and this one not only showed Dorothy’s life in a negative light but the ending was not necessarily happy. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  13. There was “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and now this is “Thoroughly Modern Dorothy” – very creative Janis. In looking at the photo of the door in the header image, I didn’t “get” that it was Oz and the Yellow Brick Road until the end of the story. I just thought it was a very colorful door.

  14. I loved this – and didn’t find it dark, although I understand why you might label it as such. The contrast in Dorothy’s grey world against the promise of the ruby red slippers. We’re all told we should just get on with reality but every so often it would be lovely to pop those slippers on, tap them 3 times and…

  15. Hi Janis, This painted door beckons us in and I suspect all may not be bright and rosy. Good ones “lion and a witch” “Kansas” “Dorothy” “Alice”

    You have taken me down the rabbit hole of memories and childhood fantasies. I am spellbound, not wanting to miss a word.

    Ahhh….the ironic twist…..good one, Janis.

    I have said it before and I truly mean it…you are exceptionally talented and creative.❤️

  16. I didn’t find this dark at all. We’ve all been to meetings like that, and it was actually quite satisfying to see what Dorothy did about it. It seems to me that writers have a love-hate relationship with realities and can especially appreciate the tension implied in this. I very much enjoyed your idea.

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