Ally & Oz

Leaving the Bad Place (First)

by William L. J. Galaini

Tall stalks of wheat waved and thrashed, much like a pale violent sea. Above was a thunderous night sky; flashing and crackling as a small little stuffed pig and a small little stuffed alligator stumbled through the cold mud. The stalks washed over them, obscuring everything around them with only the sounds of the storm and the pounding of lightning to give them bearing.

The pig was small like a piglet, with little black eyes and soft pink hooves. His tail curled, his young ears stood at attention, and his snout snorted; huffing wildly whenever mud covered his nostrils. Every time he tripped into the mud facedown, his inability to breathe scared him so. Around his neck was a playfully colored blue and red ribbon around his neck, but now it was worn and grimy.

The alligator was small, as small as a babe and she had little black eyes as well with yellow soft skin and a green ridge down her back. The mud was cold to her, and it slowed down everything she did. She couldn't move as fast as she felt needed, and this encouraged a paralyzing fear within her tummy that made her grunt like a newborn hatchling. Shivering, she trudged slowly on behind her friend.

Despite being made of fluffy and cuddly substances, they moved with as much life as any creature. And now, they were terrified and filthy. Cold and heartbroken, they had run away from a bad place. Perhaps the worst place anyone could be at, and now they wandered aimlessly in an endless field of whipping stalks and blinding slivers of violent sound.

Ally, the alligator, stopped. She became so cold that she began tossing mud onto her back with her tail in an attempt to dig herself into the ground for warmth. Ally became frantic while doing so, and frigid mud flew everywhere. Oz, the pig, turned around as soon as he heard the ruckus.

Oz was too weak to call out, but not to weak to comfort his companion. With numb hooves that sank deep, he sloshed his way back to her and placed his little snout's end on hers. He went to speak, but no sound came out of his little mouth. Out of exhaustion, Oz slumped to his side . . . his will broken. Ally’s worry for her loving Oz loosened fear’s grip, and she nudged him. He didn’t budge. Ally nudged him again. And again. Finally, wiping the mud from his snout she whispered something dear into one of his ears. Stirring, Oz got up.

And they pressed on, over roots and stones as the wind howled at them and the rain eventually fell. It poured and hammered and the mud beneath them shot up into their faces from the impact. There was no place to breath and no place to lie. Were they to drown standing? The world had somehow decided to end them, miserably.

Oz bonked his nose on something. The impact jolted him and he was so angry and surprised he let out a feeble squeal. Ally rushed to him, examining his snout to make sure it was in order.

It seemed as though they had come to a wall of black worn stone. A lightning flash revealed it to seemingly climb up into infinity, disappearing somewhere up toward the stars. Rain didn't strike so hard here, and the wind wasn't so cruel. Despite Oz's half-hearted protests, Ally squished him against the wall to keep him warm. Wiggling, she walled up some mud around both of them and then she curled into a semi circle, encasing her pink friend. Exhaustion combined with Ally’s warmth put Oz to sleep right away, and Ally soon after.

*******************

Oz's hooves twitched in the air in little stabbing motions, and with a snort he awoke from a bad dream of mud, rain, and burning cold. Trying to roll to his feet, Oz found that something held him. A large human hand was behind his neck and another one held his bottom, clasping him to a warm human chest with hot air slowly washing over his face. Wrapped in blankets, he blinking to clear his vision and looking up he saw the most beautiful thing he could have imagined. A woman, young and strong of face, smiling tenderly as her hair, bound loosely to one side, poured onto his forehead.

"Hello, little pig." she smiled.

"Hello, Lady." Oz awkwardly replied with a child-like voice.

"What's your name, little pig?"

"I is Oz." He turned his head and twisted about in the blankets trying to get a better view of things. The Lady lifted him a bit, angling him to see the room.

"You're at a castle, at the edge of the sea. It's safe and warm here. My name is Ashley." she said, while showing him the large stone fireplace before them. They sat in an engulfing chair of natural wood and rugged wool, Ashley's feet out toward the warm flame. "You're safe now, so you should try and sleep more and afterward we'll give you a warm ba-"

"Ally!" Oz yelped. "Ally!" Prying free and jumping to the floor with a thump and a cry of pain. Scrambling with a limp, Oz made for the nearest doorway squealing her name. Ashley was upon him instantly, scooping him up while trying to shush him. She rocked him and coo'ed him but his little hooves punched and swung as he continued chanting Ally's name.

"Ally? Ally is fine. Let's go see her, but calm down okay? She's sick." Ashley swiftly went into a huge torch-lit hall and up some steps. There was an old dusty nursery with faded balloon wallpaper, strewn toys about the floor, and an old white wooden cradle that had been gently gnawed upon by time. Inside was Ally, slowly being rocked by a large man who slumped over her. "Shhhhh," Ashley whispered. "She has a fever." Creeping forward and leaning down, she let Oz have a sniff at Ally and stroke her back with his hoof.

"Ally . . . is you okay?"

Ally's eyes opened weakly and her tail swished, but that was all.

"Could I cuddles her?" Oz begged.

Ashley and the Man glanced at each other with worry, but he was set down inside anyhow. "You is okay, Ally." Oz assured while snuggling up next to her. "You is okay. You looks like a dragon, remember? We founds you a castle!"

Ally's tail swished once more, and the two fell asleep.

*****************

Oz awoke first. Ally had rolled over him while sleeping and had now somehow converted his little piglet shaped body into a pillow and a mattress. Oz was not entirely pleased. Huffing and oofing, Oz freed himself to peer over the side of the cradle. The man was at the end of the room lying in a long broken couch, and Ashley was sitting at the far end, resting his head on her lap. They were both napping, the man’s eyes closed shut and Ashley head tilted way back.

Now Oz didn't entirely trust these two, especially after where he and Ally had come from, so his little cotton mind began hatching a plan. It involved grappling hooks, sheets tied together, shimmying, and of course, ninjas. Oz was planning out stage 'H' of his plan when he realized that he had been speaking aloud while pacing, and he had awoken Ally. She was weak, and slowly emerged from her blankets with weary eyes.

"Is you okay?"

Ally nodded, but Oz knew better and snorted to show his displeasure.

"Ally, if you is sick I is not going to let you run arounds."

But it was clear that Ally was afraid, and when she peaked over the crib’s edge she spied the man. Her tail trembled and when her little black eyes settled on his open idle hands she ducked back down under the blanket. It quaked with her fear.

"Do nots be afraid! You can eats him if he causes trouble!" Oz encouraged. Ally didn't come out, so he rooted into her quivering blankets with his snout. Squirming under, they became two lumps in the crib, conversing.

"Is you afraid of him, Ally?"

Ally nodded.

"He doesn't seem so bad . . ." Oz assured, but it didn't seem to impact Ally. In fact, she began looking about from side to side frantically and soon she darted for the side of the crib. WHAM was the noise as she body-slammed it. Running to the other side, she did the same. Back and forth, side-to-side she smacked the walls of the crib, rocking it unstably. Oz put a hoof over his mouth, anticipating illness. The crib made one final tilt and it came down, Oz and Ally weightless from the fall. Oz was too busy grasping for his dear little life to express his annoyance with Ally. However the crib never hit the ground, because the man had caught it. Ally jumped to the floor and shot past him, running for the hall. Ashley intercepted her and, just as with Oz, scooped her up into a cradle made from her arms. She rocked the little alligator gently, speaking nothing but sweetness.

Oz cowered in the crib that now lay on its side. He was afraid the man would be angry. Getting onto his palms and knees, the man lay on the floor on his stomach and smiled at Oz. "You could, perhaps, be the naughtiest piggie I've ever imagined. Are you hungry?"

Oz lit up. "Food!?" He called out, punctuating himself with an oink. As soon as he had let the joyful thought of eating enter his mind, he flushed with shame. "I, uh . . . I'm not hungry."

"What?" the man was surprised. "Of course, I've been rude. My name is William. May I ask yours?"

"Oz." he said meekly.

"Well, hello Oz. Would you like to eat with your friend, me and my wife Ashley?"

"I is . . . I is not hungry."

"But why not? The two of you must be starved!"

"Well, Mr. Williams, I is a pig. And I gets into trouble because I eats too much. And I should nots. Eating too much is bad."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that Oz. I don't agree at all myself. You look to be a healthy, slender little pig. In fact, a little too slender. Now I myself am pretty hungry and I feel terribly guilty about me eating something without you."

"I is . . . I is sorry." Oz stared at his hooves, guilty that he was making his host feel bad.

"Do you think you could help me feel better if you ate with me?"

"I is sorry. I do nots know . . ."

"Just a little? With your friend, and Ashley?" William looked to Ashley, who had now calmed Ally by rocking her and gently stroking her back. "I bet your friend would feel bad if you didn't eat."

"Okays . . ."

"Would you like me to carry you, or would you prefer to walk?" William asked. Oz looked down at his leg that he had hurt jumping out of Ashley's arms. He didn't know how to ask for help and he couldn't control the feeling of guilt, like he was just being a burden. These people seemed so nice and Ally was such a good alligator that she deserved them, but Oz certainly didn't and he began to cry.

"Oh! Oh! I'm sorry Oz! I didn't mean to hurt you. I was just letting you choose to do what you wanted to!" William apologetically exclaimed.

Ashley came over with Ally. Oz retreated into the crumbled recesses of the crib, and Ashley set Ally down to retrieve him.

"I is fat." Oz claimed when Ally came close, once inside. "That's why it happened. I is too fat and I made them angry." Ally shook her head, and whispered quickly into Oz's ear. Oz sniffled. "I do not knows. When Ashey and Mr. Williams see me eats, they will realizes I is not worth keepings. They will hates me too . . ." Oz's little voice crackled. Ally snuggled him, and whispered one last sentence into his floppy ear. It perked up immediately after.

"You promises?" Oz, teary eyed, smiled at Ally.

Ally nodded firmly in reply.

Out they both came, and Oz mumbled the request to be picked up. William did so, and Ashley took Ally, and they all made for the mead hall.

William and Ashley had many questions, but they bit their lips and simply fead both of the little animals until they ate no more. Ally appeared to like mostly greens and breads, whereas Oz pretty much consumed everything in sight. Both of them ate slowly, their little bodies low in their chairs with only their noses sticking up above the table with the occasional hoof or grasping foot rising up for morsels to be noisily devoured.

The mead hall itself was a tall and long room right out of Viking song, with simple tapestries along the walls for warmth. The ceiling was domed with dark blue plaster painted like a clear winter sky, and its shape caused all things to echo. Oz realized how loud he was eating, and was constantly re-adjusting his pace of consumption every time he realized that his tummy had gotten the best of him.

William couldn’t help himself. “Where are you two from?” he asked politely, trying to make the question as casual as he could. Ally sunk further under the table, the tip of her long nose now out of sight. Oz quickly gulped down the cherry tomato in his mouth and cleared his throat to answer.

“We is from a city!” he said. “A big city with a fair insides it. They haves cotton candies and roller coasters and things.”

“Oh.” William replied, confused. “So, you live at the fair?”

Oz thought for a moment. “Yup!” he announced after some contemplation.

“Well, do your parents live there?”

Ally could be heard leaping from her chair onto the tile under the table. She scampered about and both Ashley and William dove under the tablecloth to search for her. Oz proceeded to answer the question, as though he had asked it himself and ignoring the present situation.

“Yes! Our Mommy and Daddy lives in the fair! Daddy is a rings leader with a tall hat and Mommy has a beard. That is how they meets because they both haves beards and Daddy neededs to borrow Mommy’s trimmer!”

“Ouch!” William exclaimed, following it up with another ouch from banging his head on the table, making all the food and fixings on the table jump. “She bit me! How did she do that!? Does she even have teeth?”

“There she goes!” Ashley’s hand pointed from out under the tablecloth at little Ally, who flew like yellow lightning out of the room and down the hall.

The hall itself had potted vines hanging from the ceiling, each of their long green arms tangled around a series of crossed wooden posts all lit by recessed torches in the stone walls. Ally squiggled into the vines and climbed up them with great speed. William ran into the hall, looked about, and ran under her unknowingly, entering another doorway calling her name.

Ally knew that William would surely beat her, because he had the hands for it. She had bitten him with all of her little might and now he wanted revenge.

Oz! Ally didn’t know how to get to him and make him safe. She was so angry with herself. The more she thought of it, she didn’t know why she bit William. It was his hands. They looked like bad hands.

Bad hands.

And now he was coming after her, with Ashley not far behind, and she had Oz in her arms. “Ally!” Oz’s little voice called out.

Ally instinctively made a little grunting sound, a sound all Alligator babies make when they call for help. Ally didn’t mean to make it, it just kind of came out.

Oz looked up and saw her immediately. “Ally!” He cried! “There you is!” Ashley reached up to her with her hand outstretched.

“Ally? Come on down from there sweetie. It’s not safe, okay? I’ll carry both you and Oz to somewhere safe.” Ally jumped down into Ashley’s arms and nuzzled into her hair to hide. She was shaking, making Ashley’s hair do so as well.

“Okay William! I found her! I’m going to take them upstairs for a bath!” And away they went, Ally looking back through Ashley’s hair half-expecting William to come charging down the hall after them.

There was a long, broad staircase of stone, each stair worn in the center, leading up a semi-circular bend. Along the way were stain-glass windows, each filled with a different animal. Sheep, horses, cows, lions, dogs, cats, and there even was an alligator. It was long with a thick tail, much thicker than Ally’s and it had snaggled teeth pointing out from its opened jaws. Ally looked at in awe, wondering if she too were so powerful. She certainly didn’t feel it.

At the top of the steps was a tall riveted door of dark wood. Ashley, with a still moderately muddy Ally and Oz, pushed it open with her foot. “In we go.” Ashley said. It was a deep room with the farthest side being all glass. It overlooked the cliffs and the ocean beyond with such a high view that miles upon miles could be seen. The marble tub that lay at the window’s base was large enough to be considered a small pool, and there were three steps leading up to it. Night wound be soon, and Ashley began pouring the tub with warm bubbly water as she lit the wall torches and the hanging brazier. Ally and Oz waited on the counter.

“Now Ally” Oz chastised with a whisper. “You had nots finished your plate yet before you started eatings Mr. Williams.”

Just then a knock came at the door.

“Honey? Ashley? Is everyone alright?” William called, out of breath.

“We’re fine.” She called through the door. The very sound of William’s voice, frustrated and breathless, made Ally far too terrified and she dove into the half-filled tub with a splash. Oz went to do the same, but Ashley snatched him up in time. “No!” she sternly said. “No jumping into an unfilled tub. That isn’t safe.” She looked about for Ally, but had a hard time spotting her because Ally was now entirely still with only the top most tip of her snout sticking out above the bubbles.

Oz was more playful once he was in the tub. He kept trying to get Ally to play a game he called ‘Uh-oh, Alligator’ but she didn’t seem to be willing to do anything but float. “Sometimes,” Oz informed. “Ally will goes under the water and you can not sees her! And then she will pops up and gets you!” Oz seemed so delighted with the details of the game that he repeated them at least four times.

Ashley smiled, attentively listening to Oz’s story.

“But she may stills be sick, so, no uh-oh alligator tonights.” Oz concluded.

“Well, it’s been a hard day and evening for both of you, I think. Tomorrow we’ll go out looking for your parents.”

At the mention of ‘parents’ Ally disappeared under the water and Oz grew silent.

“They is very busy, and on vacations.” Oz said, after only a moment’s hesitation.

“Really? Maybe we could write to them. Let them know you’re safe. How about after your bath we go to the study and write a let-“

“Well, they is not allowed to get letters.”

“Really?”

“Really. They is in the French Foreign Legions. No letters is allowed.”

“Hmmm. Maybe tomorrow we can go out and back track where you came from.”

“Uh, um . . . well, Ally is still sick and maybe she will nots be up for its.”

“That’s a good point. We should see how she’s feeling in the morning.” Ashley bit her lip, looking at Oz. “Oz, can I ask you something? If it’s too hard a question, then you don’t have to answer. I don’t want you uncomfortable.”

His little pink face grew pale, and he seemed to shrink, sinking into the water a little. After as much of himself had been submerged as possible, he answered casually. “Sure things, Ashey.”

“Do you want to be found?”

His little black eyes seemed to mull it over, and soon after he rose up a bit and spoke. “We were found.” He replied.

Clearly he was uncomfortable, and possibly afraid of the question. Ashley didn’t want to push him any further. Sitting in silence for a time, Ally finally came to the surface, her nostrils wide for the humid bathroom air.

After they were both clean, Ashley toweled them off as best she could, but whenever she applied pressure they’d “squish” a bit and water would come out. They truly were stuffed animals, so Ashley began uneasily poking Ally to get her water out, but she recoiled each time.

“I’m so sorry!” Ashley exclaimed. “Are you okay? Does it hurt?”

“She is fine!” Oz said, dismissing Ally’s reaction. Oz walked over to Ashley and offered himself up. “Wrings me out, please.”

Cautiously Ashley lifted up Oz, and she slowly began twisting him, water trickling out into the sink. Oz seemed fine, so Ashley wound him tighter. He made a little noise like he was popping a joint or stretching a muscle. Ashley quickly set him down and stepped back, hands at her side. Oz blinked, straightening himself out.

“Thank you, Ashey!”

Ashley slowly reached for Ally, but Ally quickly twisted and pulled herself into a taught shape, spilling water everywhere. She clearly didn’t want to be touched too much.

Despite all this, they weren’t completely dry, so a hair dryer was used. It was chrome looking and Ashley plugged it into a wall socket and had them both hold still with her hand over their eyes. Oz particularly enjoyed it, his little ears flapping and his nose making an accordion motion as he faced the dryer directly, snorting in the warm air.

Ashley carried them both to the nursery again where William had obviously spent their bath time arranging two beds, both of which being very low to the ground. They had white sheets of fluffy flannel along with several pillows each. Oz dove in, flopping around and surveying his sleeping space for immediate fort construction. As for Ally, she was surprisingly limp in Ashley’s arms. Setting her down gently, Ashley folded the sheets up to her head, and tucked her in nice and snug.

“Would you like to snuggle a pillow?” Ashley asked. Ally nodded, so Ashley arranged them so.

Seeing them both in bed, Ashley stood up, stretched with a silent yawn, and walked to the light switch. “Alright, now it’s time for bed for both of you. I bet you’re exhausted. If you need anything, there’s this bell here.” There was a long string that ran to the ground from a small brass bell mounted on the wall. “Just give it a tug if you need anything, okay? Bad dreams or anything. Good night.”

Ashley turned out the light, left the door open only a crack, and walked down the hall to some other place in the castle. This didn’t slow Oz’s construction efforts any, although his hooves did. He couldn’t get a particular pillow where he wanted it, and finally he gave up to rework his design. The room was silent for a time, when Oz took a break from his fort to finally speak.

“You is lucky Ashley is not mads at you for biting her Mr. Williams. No more biting peoples, okays?” Oz heard no response. “Ally. It is okays to talk now. You is with me and no one else is here.” Oz’s head poked up from his fortifications. “Ally? I loves you. You want cuddles?” Ally rolled over into Oz’s view and shook her head ‘no.’ Oz was saddened, but respected Ally’s wishes because she often preferred sleeping alone. He, however, went right to sleep.

Ally woke up in the middle of the night with a familiar dread. She was wet. She had wet the bed again. It had always been a problem and there was nothing she could ever do to stop it or hide it. Sometimes she’d just stay in bed and pretend it didn’t happen. Sometimes she was too scared to move or tell anyone.

This time was different because it was in a different place. Maybe there was something else she could do? Could she hide it better? Quietly as possible, Ally nudged all her pillows off of the bed onto the floor. Next she bunched up the sheets and unfastened the mattress cover. She preformed the task with patience and silence, and soon she was scooting everything under the bed in one big heap. Hoping that it would be dry by morning, Ally figured she’d rather be guilty of peculiar behavior instead of wetting the bed.

She was about to climb up to the bare mattress to try and sleep in a dry corner when she spied the bell by the door. The thought of ringing it and Ashley coming occurred to her, and something within her tiny fluffy heart kindled. Ashley could come, understand, and forgive Ally? Could she? Maybe she’s really mad, though, because of William’s hand being bit and she was just hiding it. Maybe she was actually furious, and William would come instead of her with a bloodied bandage over his hand. His hand. Those hands . . .

“Ally, you wets the bed again?” Oz asked, standing right next to her. She jumped. “I heards you grunting. Is you okay? Bad dreams again?”

Ally was the model of shame.

“Is okay.” Oz said, patting her with his hoof. “We can rings the bell and they can changes the sheets.” Oz slipped off the bed and walked toward the bell’s dangled string. Ally pounced on him at once, pinning him to the floor.

“Ally! ‘Uh-oh Alligator’ is for the bathtubs only!” he exclaimed. Someone must have heard because suddenly there were footsteps coming down the hall with haste. Oz squealed and ran to his bed. “Ally! Quick! Hides with me!” he called, disappearing into his bed-battlements.

Ally froze like prey, unable to move as though a monster was coming to eat her. The door slowly swung open and in walked William with a lantern. He squinted about, and when he saw Ally’s sheets missing he ran over to her bare bed. Ally remained unseen on the floor.

He scanned over the mattress, then ducked under it and timidly felt the bunched sheets with his hand. “Ally, are you there?” William whispered. “Ally?” his examination was thorough enough now to know that Ally was gone. He immediately went to Oz’s bed. Upon seeing the little fort, he angled himself about trying to shed his lantern light into all its corners and angles. “Oz? Oz you there? Ally?”

No response. William burst for the door. “Ashley!” he yelled in his full voice, making every inch of Ally vibrate. “Ashley they’re gone!” he ran out.

Oz popped up from the recesses of his fort with a confused look, somewhat amazed at how effective his engineering was. Ally crept closer to the doorway to peek out.

“They’re not in their room!” she heard him yell.

“What!? I’m coming!” Ashley called back, somewhere deeper in the castle.

Ally realized that William was scared, not angry, and his worry touched her. With a tiny bit of happiness and relief, Ally slipped through the door and down the hall. Spotting William in a corridor, she made her little grunting noise. With her eyes fixed on him, she willed him to turn and see her. Just as she was becoming terrified that he’d run off, his eye caught hers.

Instinctively Ally expected sudden anger from him, but his face softened and as he came close he fell to his knees and set his lamp down. “Ally, are you alright? Where’s Oz? Is Oz okay?”

Ally nodded, and when she did so she saw a bandage on William’s hand. “Why are you two up? Where did you go?”

Feeling that she should own up for her crime, Ally turned and led William back to the nursery. Oz had reinforced his fort at this point and was well entrenched in preparation for a siege. His tiny black eyes squinted when William flipped on the lightswitch. “Oz? You were here the whole time?”

“Yeses, Mr. Williams . . . next it is your turns to hides.” He said, cleverly trying to alter the situation.

Ally led William to her bare bed, and began rooting through the sheets for the wet spot. Finding it, she tugged on the offending sheet until it was visible.

“Oh.” William said. “It’s okay. We’ve got plenty of sheets left. Let me get you some and I’ll make up another bed.” He reached to take the sheets and Ally recoiled, running and hiding under the bed. William ducked down after her. “It’s my hands, isn’t it? It’s my hands that you don’t like?” he asked, directing his question to somewhere under the bed in the darkness. “Alright.” He affirmed, standing up. “Oz, why doesn’t Ally speak. And why is she afraid of my hands. Did someone hurt her? Why did you lie about where you live and your parents? Why were you out there last night, freezing?”

Oz had been barraged with questions, and hadn’t the time or the faculty to produce a complex enough lie to escape.

Ashley came into the room, and stood quietly by the door.

“Mr. Williams . . .” Oz hesitated. “We do not wants to go back, pease! We wants to stay here! Do not finds them . . . pease do not tells anyone . . .” his sentence gave way to sobs, each heaving cry syncopated with a little snort. William and Ashley heard Ally’s grunting again under the bed, but this time with a stronger rhythm. Reaching under quickly, Ashley grasped Ally and pulled her out.

“Is it okay if I hold you Ally?” William asked. Ally just continued to grunt, tears rolling from her eyes. Ashley slowly passed her to him.

“Shhh. Okay, Ally. It’s okay if you wet the bed here. And you don’t have to hide or watch what you say. Either of you all right? You can stay here as long as you like.” Ashley said, gently stroking Ally’s back as she rocked in Williams arms.

Ashley then scooped up Oz from his little fort.

The two of them cried and whimpered until they were spent, and soon Oz slept in Ashley’s arms. She had been stroking his ears and apparently it relaxed him to the point of sleep. William went to put Ally into Oz’s bed, but she began to grunt as soon as he tried to do so. Bringing her close to his chest, she stopped. He looked to Ashley for non-verbal advice, and she merely shrugged her shoulders. William tried again to put Ally down, but the grunting came once more.

“Would you and Oz like to sleep with us tonight?” Ashley asked. In response Ally buried her face into William’s chest.

“It’s okay, Ally, even if you wet the bed. It would be okay.” William said.

With a sniffle and a nod, Ally seemed to agree.

“And I am really sorry that I scared you. And I hope I didn’t yell at you. If there’s anything I can do or should do, could you let me know Ally?” William asked meekly.

Ally didn’t give much of a response, but simply nuzzled into him a bit more.

Each with a little creature in their arms, Ashley and William turned the light off on the way out or the old nursery.

They slept in a bedroom at the top of the highest tower. It was a tall, slim structure with a tight spiraling staircase hand-railed with brass. At the top was a circular room with a glass-domed ceiling that revealed clouds passing overheard and a night sky that was dark purplish-blue from the half moon that hung low. The bed itself was sizable enough for several kings, and William and Ashley waded into it on their knees. Without getting in their pajamas, they simply pulled the covers up. Ashley set Oz down, whom stirred for a moment and made his way onto a pillow next to William’s head. Curling up in a ball, his sleep continued. As for Ally, she wriggled under the covers and slipped out of sight.

William and Ashley were concerned about hurting her if they rolled in their sleep, but since it was what she wanted, they took ease. Blowing out the lamps on the headboard, they all settled in with the night sky high above them, bathing them in a purple hue.

© William L. J. Galaini