Out of OzThe Final Volume in the Wicked Years
William MorrowCopyright © 2011 Gregory Maguire
All right reserved.ISBN: 9780060548940
One of her earliest memories. Maybe her first, it was hard to tell, time
was unstable then. Swimming through grass that came up as high as
her underarms. Or it may have been new grain not yet roughened by summer.
Late spring, probably. Her chin stroked by paintbrush tips of green.
Sunk in the world, unable to feel anything but the magic of it. Unable
to take part.
The field was as wide as the sky, while she was so low that she couldnt
see over horizons of any sort. At a small clearing where (she later realized) a
farmers cart or plow might turn around, she came upon the skin of a mouse
in the cropped and daisied grass.
The mouse pelt was still soft and almost warm. Supple, not leathery. As
if some snake or owl had caught the creature and eaten it through a seam,
blood and bones and little liver and all, but had tossed aside, nearly in one
piece, the furry husk.
She had picked it up and dressed her forefinger with it, becoming Mouse.
Quickening into Mouse. It had made her feel foreign to herself, and real.
Realer. Then the feeling overwhelmed her and with a cry she shuddered the
Mouse-shuck off her, away.
It disappeared into the grain. Immediately she loathed herself for
cowardice and the loss of a magic thing, and she hunted for it until the memory
had hardened into a notion of stupidity and regret.
She kept the memory and suffered the longing but never again was so
real a Mouse, not for her whole life.