By Ekta R. Garg
October 13, 2014
Prompt: That’s What She Said—Fill in the blank and use this lovely line of dialogue in your story: “I hope you’re all happy, because now I have to _____.”
The wizard sat in his seat and tried to portray that image of power, although his wife could see his hands trembling. She had tried to explain to him a hundred times that if the inhabitants of the land saw his hands shaking, they would question his omnipotence. She had suffered enough since landing in this ridiculous corner of whatever world it was. The least he could do was maintain a certain standard of living by projecting an aura of power.
“Oh, Great Wizard,” the squat man said, bowing. “Can you please explain this unbelievable phenomenon? What should we do about it?”
The wizard threw his hand in the air with a flourish to indicate that he was thinking, and his wife barely refrained from rolling her eyes. She stayed in the corner with her book, and she even flipped a page every now and then to portray her disinterest.
“I must spend time pondering this matter,” the wizard finally said. “Come back to me in an hour for my decision.”
“As you wish, oh Great Wizard.” The man bowed even deeper, backed away until he had made it about 20 paces away, and then turned around and scurried out the door.
The wizard fell back in the seat with exhaustion. He covered his eyes with his hand and moaned. “What am I going to do? I don’t know anything about this stuff!”
The wife stood and dropped her book into the rocking chair behind her. “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
“I can’t! I’m not a wizard, and you know that. These crazy people think that just because we dropped in from a different place that I have all the answers to their problems. I don’t know anything about running a country. And now this!”
The wife strode forward. “Ever since we’ve gotten married you’ve said that if only you had a chance to be a real leader, you’d show the world and make the best life for us. Well, now you’ve got that chance. Be a leader and show the people here what you can do!”
“That’s easy for you to say,” the wizard replied. “You don’t have to make decisions here. You just sit and listen to these ridiculous people bring me their asinine problems.”
That’s it. She’d had enough. She marched right to his seat—some throne!—and poked his chest with her finger.
“I don’t just listen, as you like to call it. Every time they’ve brought you a problem, I’ve given you the answer. I’ve let you take the credit for all the things that work here and blame me for the things that don’t. I thought that if I gave you enough good ideas, eventually it would get your brain in gear and working so you can come up with your own ideas. But apparently that’s not going to happen here.”
The wizard narrowed his eyes. “So what are you saying?”
The wife crossed her arms. “I want to go home. Now.”
“Ha!” The wizard got up and started pacing. “Great! Wonderful. You want to go home. And how do you propose to do that, wife?”
“If I had a chance to work on that problem, we would have been home by now. I can’t work on all of your problems and figure a way out home all at the same time.”
“As if you knew anything! The more you solve people’s problems here, the more they’re going to want us to stay. If we stopped solving their problems, they wouldn’t have a problem letting us go.”
They continued arguing and their voices had gotten so loud that they didn’t hear the tap on the door at first. The tapping turned into an insistent knock, and finally someone opened the door.
The wizard and his wife stopped arguing, the wizard with his mouth still open to deliver the next clever barb.
The man had returned and he offered them a deep bow. “Pardon me for interrupting, Great Wizard, but you told me to come back for your…your solution to the problem.”
A small contingent of munchkins had followed the mayor of Munchkin Land into the hall, and everyone stared at the wizard with anxiety in their faces.
The wife rolled her eyes again and took all of them in with a withering look. “I hope you’re all happy, because now I have to take care of this! You,” she said, flinging a hand in the direction of the mayor, “send some of your munchkins to inspect the house and see if the witch is really dead. Then wait a few minutes and go inside the house, take out whatever resources you can find, and we’ll take the ruby slippers and then decide what to do next.”
The mayor looked between the wizard and his wife, not clear on what to do.
“What are you waiting for?” the wife asked. “Go!”
The wizard blinked once and then put his hands on his hips, broadening his chest.
“My wife has shared with all of you my will. Follow what I say, and all will be well with you.”
The mayor sighed and tried to hide his relief. “As you say, Great Wizard of Oz.”
He bowed again and led the other munchkins out. As soon as they left, the wife smacked her husband on the arm.
“Good going, Einstein. Now we’re going to be stuck here forever.”
She went back to her chair and picked up the book, taking a moment to look at the title: Fixing Hot Air Balloons.