I wrote a first draft of this story in 1994 after watching an episode of the PBS TV show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The guest was Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz. Mr. Rogers wanted children to understand that the Witch was not real but was portrayed by an actress. On the show, Margaret Hamilton showed how make-up transformed her into the Witch, and I remember she commented that the Witch was not all bad and that if you observed her carefully you could see that she sometimes even was sad.

That exchange inspired me to write this story, which originally I intended as a gift for Margaret Hamilton. It was only after I’d finished writing it that by doing some research in the library (this was pre-Internet) I discovered that Margaret Hamilton had died about ten years earlier. The episode I’d watched of Mister Rogers had been a re-run.

Since I could not send my story to Margaret Hamilton, I instead sent it to her son, Hamilton W. Meserve, a newspaper and magazine publisher in the Hudson Valley area of upstate New York. In March, 1995, he wrote back a lovely note which said, in part: “Mom was always concerned that children understood the difference between make believe and reality. Your story gently bridges the two and makes children want to know the witch as a person.”

That first draft of this story was written well before the show Wicked opened and before publication of the novel on which it was based. Recently, I dug the story out of my files, was pleased to find it still carries a compelling message, and did some editing.

So, click your heels together three times—and I hope you enjoy!

The Wicked Witch’s Retirement Dinner

(May 2013)

So it was true. The Wicked Witch of the West really was retiring. Finally closing up shop. When someone—nobody remembers who—suggested honoring her with a retirement dinner, the idea caught on. Tin Man took charge of organizing the event. He was no fan of surprises, so the first step he took was to tell the old girl all about it.

Late on a Saturday morning, Tin Man stopped by the Witch’s modest home and rang the bell.

“Please come in,” the Witch said quietly, opening the door. As he entered, Tin Man couldn’t help but think back to the grandeur of the Witch’s former castle.

“I wasn’t expecting anyone,” said the Witch. “I’m afraid it’s a bit of a mess.”

A dust mop and carpet sweeper stood in one corner of the little parlor. “Hmmm… no broom,” Tin Man noted to himself. The Witch pointed to a chair, and as Tin Man seated himself, the usual clanging noises he made when adjusting his posture sounded especially loud in such a small room. A slight blush came to his aluminum cheeks, but the Witch waved away his embarrassment. “We all creak a bit as we get older.”

“So, how ’bout that tornado last week?” Tin Man said a little too heartily. The Witch merely nodded. “And that mayor of ours,” he continued nervously, “could he be any crookeder? More crooked? Uh, crookedy-er?”


Tin Man gave up on small talk. Squinking forward in his seat, he looked directly at the Witch and said, “Listen, dear, we heard about your plans and we all want to throw you a big retirement dinner. So what do you think? Will you let us make this party for you?”

She nodded again, without saying a word. A tear moistened one side of her face, now wrinkled with age and darkened to a forest green.

“Oh, yes, thank you. If you wouldn’t mind. . . I’ll just be a minute. . . ” she said, tottering to the bathroom to regain her composure.

*   *   *

Now just a minute. The Wicked Witch of the West? Didn’t Dorothy Gale melt her to death with a bucket of water? Well, not exactly. In the midst of all the dinging and donging and celebrating, no one bothered to mop up the Witch’s remains. While everyone caroused, the water that once had been the Witch seeped through the floor and into the castle basement. Drop by drop, it formed a puddle. When a rat ran through it—the puddle started to quiver. From its center rose a plume of swirling, black smoke and from the smoke emerged the black-caped, green-skinned cackling figure of the Wicked Witch of the West.

“Melt me, will she!” snarled the Witch as she crept along a dark passageway in the basement of her castle. “When I get out of here, I’ll catch that prissy Kansas girl, and her little dog, too!”

But the Witch was too late, of course. Dorothy and Toto and the Wizard had had already returned safely to Kansas. Scarecrow had taken the Wizard’s place, aided by Tin Man and the Lion.

When reports reached Scarecrow that the Witch was still alive, he ordered the Palace Guards to arrest her. Days later, they found her, still lost in the tunnels.

“Stop right there, Witch!” shouted the captain of the Guard. “You’re under arrest!”

“Fools!” she threatened. “I’ll burn you to cinders!”

“Look here,” the brave Captain said, “Scarecrow has ordered us to arrest you!”

“Arrest this!” shouted the Witch, and she thrust her hand toward the Captain as if to throw a fireball.

He flinched.

But nothing happened.

“You’ll die in flames!” she screamed, thrusting both hands within inches of his face.

Again, nothing happened.

The Witch looked at her open palms and long, slender green fingers, as if she had never seen them before. “My powers! My powers! “My beautiful powers are gone! Oh, what a world…again!”

The Guards handcuffed her and led her away.

Before dawn the next morning, the Captain of the Guard entered her tiny cell in the bowels of the castle. “Get up!” he ordered. “You’re going to Munchkinland to see Scarecrow.”

She stood slowly, feeling stiff. She had not slept well. Her gown and cape were heavily wrinkled.

The Guard handcuffed her. “Can you take these off when I get in the coach?” she asked.

“You’re not going by coach,” said the Captain. “You’re going by monkey. Scarecrow thought you might like to travel the same way you once arranged for him, Lion, and Tin Man to travel.”

Two of the Witch’s own Flying Monkeys entered the cell. “Take her away!” ordered the Captain.

The blue-faced Monkeys, still wearing their red bell-hop caps, led her out of the cell and down a hallway to an open window. They gripped the Witch by the back of her black gown and leapt into the air, holding her below them, like hawks with a helpless mouse, as they flew up and away from the castle.

“Let me go!” cried the Witch.

But she hoped they would not let her go. She understood now that she no longer had the power to fly, or any kind of magic power at all. She was just an old woman, dressed in black, being flown through the gray, predawn sky toward an unknown fate. She was tired, and she was afraid.

Minutes later the Monkeys touched down in Munchkinland’s Central Square, where heavily armed Munchkin police took her into custody. Then they led her to a large gathering at City Hall, where Scarecrow and the assembled citizens would decide her fate.

City Hall, with tall marble columns and nearly 500 seats was the grandest place in Munchkinland. Nearly every seat was filled. Munchkins turned to watch as Scarecrow entered through a rear door and walked slowly down the long center aisle, occasionally nodding to his right or left. At the front, he mounted the stairs to the stage and stood at the podium. A security guard then led the Witch in through a side door and seated her at a small wooden table in the front of the Hall, off to one side and below where Scarecrow stood.

As he looked over the assembly, Scarecrow patted down a few straws poking through the seams on the top of his head. Now that he did most of his work indoors, he seldom wore his high-pointed black hat. Without it, his head resembled nothing so much as a baseball: perfectly round, with seams running from scalp to jaw. Yet because of the brain inside, the head seemed majestic.

Scarecrow raised his white-gloved hands to quiet the crowd. “Well,” he said, “here she is, powerless as a newborn lamb. What shall we do with her?”

“Stone her!” cried one Munchkin mother who was the first to rise to her feet. “She scared my children with her fire balls and threats! They still have nightmares.”

“A lighted match will do better!” piped an old man.

“Drop a house on her!” shouted another man. “That did the job with her sister.”

At the mention of her sister, the Witch, who had been staring straight ahead, bowed her head slightly.

Tin Man, who was sitting in the front row, unbent himself into a standing position. “Now, I don’t mean we should go easy on the Witch,” Tin Man began, “but if I remember correctly, though the Witch scared a lot of people she never actually killed anyone. Putting her to death might not be fair.”

“Awww… put a sock in it, Heartboy!” someone shouted from the crowded back rows. “Silence!” Scarecrow intoned, startling himself. “Let’s check the Coroner’s records first!” After a brief pause the black-suited Coroner stood and confirmed that the only death recorded during the Witch’s reign of terror was that of the Wicked Witch of the East.

A young Munchkin man rose. A boy and girl stood on either side of him. “I’m all for fairness,” he began, “but we can’t allow the Witch to remain in Munchkinland. It’s too dangerous for our children. I say we if we can’t put her to death then banish her—march her to the city limits, give her enough food for a couple of days, and let her fend for herself in the forest.”

As Munchkins murmured their approval, a massive head of brown curls topped with a tiny red ribbon arose from the front row.

“Yes, Lion,” said Scarecrow, “what do you have to say?”

Munchkins in the seats directly behind Lion had to duck to avoid being struck by his tail as it bobbed and swept widely from side to side before Lion was able to catch it and hold the tip in front of him as he spoke.

“Remember, folks,” he began, “we’re not dealing with the Wicked Witch as we knew her—this Witch has no magic powers.” He stopped and half sat down, but then quickly rose again as he remembered the rest of what he wanted to say. “If we set the Witch loose in the forest, she’ll have no shelter. The animals will attack her, or she’ll starve.” Confidently, Lion concluded, gesturing with his paw for emphasis, “Putting the Witch in the forest would be the same thing as a death sentence. It just wouldn’t be right. In fact, it would be, I daresay, an act of cowardice!”

The debate continued. All the time, the Witch sat quietly, her back to the crowd, staring ahead.

Then Scarecrow quieted the crowd.

“My friends,” he said, “I’ve listened carefully to all of you, and I think I have a solution.” He smiled gently and put one white-gloved hand to the side of his head, as if to show from where the solution had come. “How about instead of harming her as she’s harmed us, we make her pay us all back?”

Munchkins murmured, “What?” How?”

Scarecrow continued, “Our convenience store, Munchin’ Munchkins, has been closed since the manager retired last year, and I’ve heard from many of you what a hardship it is not to have a place to pick up groceries and other essentials. I propose we make the Witch run that store for us; she can keep what money she needs to live on, but all the rest will go to help Munchkins in need.”

The Witch glanced up at Scarecrow. She recalled her last words to him on the upper deck of her castle: “How about a little fire, Scarecrow?” she had taunted, as she touched her flaming broom to his straw-filled arm. Could the man she had nearly killed now be proposing to save her life?

Munchkins rose to express their fears: “Live among us? The Wicked Witch? How will we protect our children? What if she’s faking and hasn’t really lost her powers? Our children go to that store to buy candy; the Witch could poison it!”

“All right, all right,” Scarecrow replied. “How about we install video cameras in the store and have a security detail in there 24/7?” Reluctantly, the majority of Munchkins finally agreed to Scarecrow’s plan.

Scarecrow looked down toward the Witch. “Stand up,” he said.

The Witch slowly rose.

“Do you have anything to say before I issue this order for you to re-open and run Munchin’ Munchkins?”

The Witch seemed remarkably tall as she stood among the seated Munchkins. Though she held her chin with just enough lift to hint at her former pride, she dared not look back towards the hostile crowd and instead kept her gaze locked on Scarecrow. There was something in Scarecrow’s simple, sewn-together face that told her she was not being tricked, that this man without a bone in his body was firm in his decision to spare her. But her lips remained pressed tightly together, and she said nothing.

“Then I hereby order it,” Scarecrow declared. “Take her away.”

The Town Council gave the Witch a cottage just off the Yellow Brick Road where it curves out of town. It was small, even by Munchkinland standards: a modest living room with a day bed and, off to one side, a little kitchen. Before the Witch moved in, Munchkin carpenters raised the ceiling and extended the bed frame.

The Witch slept all of the first day and part of the second; the simple bed was a comfort after a mostly sleepless night on a jail cot. On the afternoon of the second day, a Munchkin messenger arrived with a sealed envelope from Scarecrow. Inside was a note: “I know you’ll do well at the store. Use this to buy what you need for your home.” Attached was a check—payment in advance.

The Witch was startled: she couldn’t remember the last time anyone had expressed confidence in her.

First she shopped for groceries, waiting until late in the day when she thought the street would be less crowded, but even so Munchkins, seeing her black-gowned figure, crossed to the other side of the street; Munchkin parents picked up their toddlers and hurried away. She pretended not to notice. To her surprise and delight, however, even though it had been many years since she’d cooked, she still remembered how to make a meal for herself.

Her next excursion was for clothes. She had nothing but the black cape and gown she had been wearing when arrested. Of course, there were no clothes in Munchkinland large enough for her, but by piecing together several Munchkin garments she picked up at a thrift shop, she made herself a few simple skirts and blouses. Most were beige and other neutral colors. No black. And no shoes that were ruby, scarlet or any other shade of red.

Those first weeks she spent fixing up the cottage, shopping, cooking, and making clothes, were the first time in years the Witch had been by herself. In the castle, she was nearly always surrounded by others: her staff, the Guards, the Monkeys. At first, the solitude at the cottage troubled her, but gradually she began to like having time to be quiet and to think.

At Munchin’ Munchkins, the Witch had much to do to prepare the store for re-opening. It needed airing-out, sweeping, and dusting. Much of the existing stock was old and had to be thrown out and re-ordered. She re-organized all the shelving: tissue boxes and personal care items here, school supplies and games there, cereal boxes up off the floor, magazines and penny candy near the counter. She found some old cans of bright yellow paint and touched up the sign in the front window.

Each day she walked to the store alone. She wore her hair in a loose bun, kept her head down, and didn’t speak unless spoken to—which was seldom.

There was no “Grand Opening;” one morning, when all was in order, she just flipped the red and white sign hanging on the front door to “Open.” The store that now stood ready to serve Munchkins was clean, well organized and freshly stocked. The Witch surveyed her work with a simple sense of pride, something she could not recall having felt in a long time.

Even so, the first few weeks did not go smoothly. One morning, the Witch arrived at work to find spray-painted across the store’s large front window the words “Surrender Witch!” She worked much of the day with paint thinner to remove the scrawl. A few nights later, several bottles of Witch Hazel came flying through the same window. The next morning, Munchkins observed the Witch outside the store on her knees, carefully picking up the shards of glass. She covered the window with brown paper until the glass could be replaced. Police questioned two members of the Lollipop Guild but no arrests were made.

It took many months before most Munchkins felt willing to even try shopping at the Witch’s store. Gradually, though, the sight of her in Munchkinland became familiar, and Munchkins grudgingly admitted among themselves that she was reliable. If a Munchkin mother came into the store for three bottles of milk and two hairbrushes, that’s what she was charged for; no one reported any incident of the Witch making an error on a bill, or trying to cheat them.

Still, they were cautious, and one day there was an incident that reminded them of why they were wary.

“Look what you’ve done, you miserable midget!” screamed the Witch. A chubby little boy, no older than ten, had come to the store after school for Frozen Oz Bars, a popular ice cream sandwich. It was an afternoon in spring, about halfway through the Witch’s first year at the store. She had arrived at work early that morning to stack dozens of bottles of a new soda in a tall pyramid display. It had taken her several tries to get the bottles to balance. Whether on purpose or by accident, when the boy ran into the store, he knocked over all the bottles.

The boy’s knickers and black buckle shoes were covered with bits of glass, but he didn’t move. He could only stare at the terrifying image before him: a tired, green face contorted in rage.

“I’ll tan your hide!” shrieked the Witch. Then she noticed a broom leaning against the wall. “No,” she said slowly, in a mocking singsong tone. “I think I’ll skewer you!”

The Witch squinted and curled her red-painted lips into a phony smile. Grabbing the broom just above the bristles, she advanced on the boy, thrusting the handle at him like a lance.

“How about a little shish-ka-bob, pretty boy?” she threatened.

The boy glanced forward and back, looking for a way out.

“Don’t hurt me!” he pleaded. “I didn’t mean to do it!”

For a long moment, the boy and the Witch stood face to face, separated only by the length of the broom handle.

Suddenly, a shudder ran through the Witch. She closed her eyes, relaxed her shoulders. She took a breath. As she slowly lowered the broom to the floor, the boy dashed around her and out the door.

Amidst the pool of sticky soda and shattered glass, the Witch crumpled to the floor and wept.

In early fall, about three years after the Witch had come to live among the Munchkins, another twister moved through Munchkinland, blowing the roof of the Community Chicken House. The Munchkin Fire Department sent a ladder truck to the scene. Firefighters climbed up and into the wind-torn nests and carried each yellow chick down to safety. They placed the frightened birds on the ground and climbed up again to spread a tarp over the exposed nursery. As they wrestled with the wind to tie the tarp down, one firefighter stopped and motioned to the others to look below.

“Well, I’ll be the Wizard’s uncle!” he said to his fellows. “Would you look at that?”

On the sidewalk below was the Witch, kneeling beside the frightened birds and smoothing their ruffled feathers.

“Don’t be afraid, my pretties,” she said. “The storm will pass.”

When an assistant to the Mayor arrived, the Witch rose and silently handed him two grocery bags with loaves of bread, warm blankets and six bottles of milk—enough to keep the chicks warm and fed throughout the night. Then she turned and hurried away.

In the following days, Munchkins spread the story among themselves about how the Witch had come out in the storm to help the chicks, and left even without being thanked:

“Did you hear what the Witch did…?”

“The Witch saved the baby chicks!”

“She petted them, and brought them blankets and milk!”

After this, when Munchkins went to the Witch’s store, many for the first time said hello to her. A few even tried asking how business was and how she was. Though outside the store no one had much to do with her beyond a simple nod, the store itself became a warm and friendly place.

As relations warmed, what to call the Witch became something of a problem. Calling her “Witch” didn’t quite seem right anymore. One Munchkin recalled the Witch telling him that her given name was Margaret, and that tidbit quickly got around. From then on, it was “Good morning, Margaret,” “How’s business today, Margaret?”

The children who now came into the store with their parents discovered that Margaret had some amazing stories to tell—not just stories about witches, but by someone who really was a witch!

“Tell again about how you flew on a broom!” pleaded one Munchkin boy, while his mother shopped.

“Tell us how you made clothes for the Flying Monkeys,” demanded a little girl.

Before long, the Witch found she was spending nearly as much time telling stories to Munchkin children as she was tending to adult customers. One day she put a sign in the window:

Story Hour
Thursdays 3:00-4:00 p.m.
All Are Welcome

“Tell us about heating the dog food!” a boy cried as Margaret settled into her rocking chair in the middle of the space she had cleared in the back of the store and strewn with pillows and blankets for the children.

“Oh, yes.” She had told this one many times. “When I was a girl, we had a little dog named Blackie who slept in our backyard in a dog house my father built. In the winters, it got cold where we lived, so sometimes on very cold nights I would sneak out of my room to the backyard where Blackie lay in his dog house, and I would heat up his dinner by making a tiny flame with my fingers.” The Witch stretched her fingers out towards the children to show how she used to make flames.

A few more stories about her now lost powers, and then it was time to get back to work. “That’s all for today, children,” Margaret said. As they left, she invited each one to take a penny candy from the fish bowl near the door.

And so life continued for many happy years at Munchin’ Munchkins, and the people of Munchkinland were glad Margaret was there. But a time came when she found it was getting too hard to keep with up with the ordering, stocking, and cleaning, and working the new computerized checkout was something she just never felt comfortable with. She decided it was time to retire.

* * *

Tickets to the Witch’s Retirement Dinner were hard to come by, and by the day of the event they were sold out. There were rumors that members of the Lollipop Guild had bought up a block of seats and were scalping them to willing buyers!

No one could remember having seen anything like this event in Munchkinland. The Dinner, held at City Hall, had the splendor and excitement of a royal wedding or Hollywood opening. Munchkins arrived in gilded carriages, shiny private automobiles, and tiny limousines. Everyone came dressed in their finest. Aging members of the Lullaby League, though no longer able to fit into tutus, looked lovely in pink gowns and garlands. The portly mayor, now hobbled by arthritis in both knees, wore black tie with a crimson cummerbund.

Inside, the Witch sat on the stage at the head table. With her sat Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, all in black-tie (and black silk ribbons for Lion’s mane and tail). The Mayor was up there, too, along with the current chairperson of the Lullaby League and a former member of the Lollipop Guild who now sat on City Council.

“May the goodness of Glinda, the wisdom of the Wizard, and the decency of Dorothy be with us all, now and forever,” intoned a clergyman in an opening benediction.

Scarecrow welcomed the enormous crowd and introduced those at the head table. “After dinner,” he said, “there will be plenty of speeches, so eat and drink as much as you can now!” And they did, gobbling up tiny salmon steaks, endive salad, baby carrots, and, for dessert, finger-sized chocolate éclairs.

Later, as servers poured refills on coffee and collected dessert plates, Scarecrow again stepped to the podium. The inevitable tributes and speeches followed, some sincere, some clever, all much too long.

Finally, the Mayor climbed to the stage to present the Witch with a Scroll of Appreciation for providing the best convenience store in Munchkinland.

Then Scarecrow rose again. “I hardly know what to say after so many eloquent remarks,” he began, “but I, too, have something for Margaret, our honored guest.” Scarecrow presented the Witch with a gift: fleece-lined slippers, which he said he hoped would keep her feet warm for many years to come. He didn’t mention it, but the slippers were ruby-colored—a poignant gesture lost on no one.

The Witch rose and accepted the slippers. She softly touched her eyes with a handkerchief, put on her reading glasses, straightened herself at the podium, and spoke:

“My dear, dear friends,” she began, “you are all too kind.”

“Thank you, Scarecrow, for these lovely slippers. I will cherish them.”

“You know, I don’t need poppies anymore to put people to sleep. I only need to talk too long.”

There was a smattering of laughter.

“These years among you have been the happiest of my life. I have tried to repay you by doing my job as best I could, but just the chance to live among you is so dear to me that I can never truly repay it.”

She stopped to pat away a tear.

“I am reminded today,” she continued, “of another day many years ago when my circumstances were much different. I am thinking of what turned out to be the last day of my old life. I was living in my castle and in my hands I held the fate of an innocent young girl and her little dog. I had frightened that girl so much that all she could do was weep and think of her dear Aunt Em. The truth is, when I looked into that crystal ball, what I really saw reflected there was the image of an angry woman who could frighten little children. I could hardly believe it was me, yet it was me and despite all my powers, I was powerless to stop being me.”

City Hall was silent. Even the servers stopped clearing tables to listen.

“But how did I become that particular “me”? When my sister and I were young, we were like most other children. “We played games and we dreamed of the future. But as we grew, we started to look different from others. We became tall in a land of little people. My face and hands were not pleasing to look at; my skin turned green. I grew angry. I knew there was more to me than the way I looked and these strange powers, but that was all people saw in me—sometimes all I could see in myself.

“I spent years terrorizing everything that lives and breathes—including all of you—and built myself a great castle. But there was no joy in it. Can you imagine how dull it was to live with those Flying Monkeys and stone-faced Guards? It was humiliating, too, having little people as enemies.

“The worst day was the day my sister died. I could hear you singing from far away. Even now it is hard for me to say the words—”ding dong” and the rest—about how happy you were that my sister was dead. I thought, “Will this also be my end? That someday I will die and people will celebrate with marching bands, songs, dancing, and parades? This is my fate—that harmless people will rejoice at my death?”

At this, many Munchkins bowed their heads, recalling how they had danced and sang at the death of the Wicked Witch of the East.

“I was so angry at that fate—which I had created for myself—that I came to you in a searing ball of fire and rage. I’m sure you remember it. And that is the day I met Dorothy. She reminded me of when I was a young girl; she even had a dog like mine. I don’t know that I ever would have hurt her, but I know I frightened her and her friends terribly. For that I am sorry.”

Here the Witch paused to glance at Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion.

“I do wish Dorothy were here so I could thank her in person. The water she melted me with gave me new life—not by giving me new powers, but by cleansing me of the old ones. You called them powers, but to me they were a curse. These last years have been the happiest of my life. You have allowed me to live among you and to be—to be myself. There is no way I can ever repay you for that sweet, sweet privilege.

“Thank you all.”

Everyone instantly rose to their feet and applauded loudly. The Witch seemed momentarily stunned by the reaction, and removed her glasses to again wipe away a tear. Scarecrow joined her at the podium and supported her with an arm around her shoulder. When the applause ended, he approached the microphone.

“If the Wizard of Oz were here, Margaret, I know he would have a little something for you in his famous black bag, as he had for Lion and Tin Man and me. Before we came tonight, we discussed this and did our best to come up with one more gift for you like the Wizard himself might have given.”

Scarecrow held up a small, black cloth bag. He cleared his throat and, affecting as best he could the Wizard’s deep voice, faced the Witch and said, “You, my dear Margaret, have labored under the illusion that you lack beauty. But as everyone present will attest, you have become, and always were inside—a woman of exceptional beauty.”

Scarecrow paused, and held one finger straight up in imitation of the Wizard.

“BUT, you lack something that other beautiful woman have got—a beautiful ornament. And so, by the authority vested in me, I hereby bestow upon you”—here Scarecrow pulled a string of shimmering green jewels from the black bag—”an emerald necklace, each stone lovingly collected by the children of Munchkinland.”

Scarecrow handed the necklace to the Witch, who held it to her chest for all to admire. Looking directly into the Witch’s moist eyes, Scarecrow continued, more softly now, “And remember, my supernatural friend, the beauty we find inside ourselves is the beauty that others will see in us.”

Again, the crowd rose and applauded warmly. Scarecrow embraced the Witch, as did Lion and Tin Man, in turn. When it grew quiet, the Witch took her seat, gently fingering the lovely gems.

Margaret, The No Longer Wicked Witch of the West, continued to live in her little cottage on the outskirts of Munchkinland, checked on daily by her many friends. One windy day when she was out for some fresh air, she fell and broke a hip. After that, she wasn’t seen much. Months later, she died in her sleep.

They buried her in the Munchkinland cemetery. A simple stone marked her grave. On it, the Munchkins wrote:

Of Munchkinland
Lies below.
She had a good mind,
A kind heart,
And the courage to grow.

©Peter Lovenheim, 1994, 2011, 2013.