Ally & Oz

Christmas Morning (Seventh)

by William L. J. Galaini

*Psst!* Ally whispered, nudging Oz with her snout. He was sprawled out on William's tummy, the motion of which raised him up and down with each snore.

Oz blinked with sleepily eyelids. "Huh?"

Ally flopped up one of Oz' ears with her nose and proceeded to whisper excitedly. Oz listened for a bit, but soon started shaking his head.

"No Ally, I should sleeps some more."

Ally was perplexed. She pressed her argument further with a cruel, fluffy glare.

"No, ally!" Oz asserted. "I do not wants to go! It is just Christmas. And I has already seens the tree."

Ally looked very confused.

"Just Christmas, Ally . . . Williams and Ashey and you will haves a good times! I is just goings to stay here in the mornings."

At this Ally crept to the edge of the bed and thinking her gone, Oz closed his eyes to sleep again. Turning about and aiming carefully, Ally targeted Oz atop William’s rising and falling belly, awaiting patiently. After a moment, Ally sprung like a lion when William's tummy was low, snatching Oz right off without giving him breath to squeal, and flying off the bed. Using the forward momentum, Ally curled into a ball with Oz in the middle and wheeled her way lightning fast out of the bedroom and down the stairs. Bounce! Bounce! they went as Oz oof'd, grunted, and complained. Down down down each stair until they hit bottom with a splat. Ally was out on her back, legs twitching and Oz had landed squarely on his snout. He was rather upset.

"Ally! There you goes again! Why dids you do that!?" straightening himself up, he chastised Ally until the thought occurred that she may be hurt. Scrambling to her side he oinked lovingly while pawing her tummy with his hooves. "Ally? Ally is you okay?" he got scared. "Ally!" he began to squeal. "Ally! Ally!"

Ally's tail curled slowly, and she used it to flop herself over. Sore and aching, she arched her back and found her feet. I appeared that she was just too excited about the Christmas tree to be in much pain.

Oz was lost for words to express his little pig-shaped outrage. Before he could come up with something adequate, Ally dashed off into the den to where the tree stood.

It was a huge beast of a tree, like a vertical forest. Ashley had spied its towering tip deep inside a distant wood from one of the castle’s towers. Retrieving it involved hiking, camping, cutting, and dragging for three days. Everyone chipped in.

Globes of gold, silver, purple, and red sat in its branches with strings of tinsel catching and playing with the fire light. The bulbs were small and variously colored, slowly dimming in intervals. All kinds of odd creatures and shapes decorated it, and underneath was a pile of presents, stacked like a ribbon-bound city of stripes and patterns.

Ally dove into what would be the down-town district, only her tail sticking up out of the pile. She rooted around like Oz would for truffles.

"I want to go back upstairs, Ally." Oz protested as he came into the room, reluctantly following her. "Ally! Did you hears me! We go upstairs now!"

Ally's tail began to wiggle as she backed out of the present pile causing a small avalanche, destroying several high-rises. Several wrapped gifts bounced about with rattles and thumps around her.

"Ally!" Oz protested. "Puts that down! You is such a dumb alligator! Wakings me up and draggings me down here!"

Ally spun about. Seeing Oz furious made her eyes find the ground.

"Why is we downs here?! Just because Ashey and Williams love you enough to gives you presents is no reason to bring me down here! I was havings a nice dream that you interrupted! A nice dream without ALLIGATORS!"

A tear rolled down Ally's cheek. She went to speak, but Oz interrupted.

"No cryings!" Oz yelled, but he was now crying too. "No cryings, Ally, because *sniff* because you is a good little alligators who is going to get presents because you do nots cause trouble stealing strawberries *sniff sniff* and I is just a dumb pig!" Oz was sobbing now. "Nobody loves pigs! Nobody loved me! I hates Christmas . . . " He was forlorn, and walked to the fire place to sit down and stare into the flame. Ally came up next to him. Oz grabbed her, hugging her hard. "Ally, I is so sorry! I was really havings a nice dream with nothing but alligators. You is not dumb, you is much smarters than me. I is dumb. I talk funny and I is so tiny that I do nots do anything important. I mean, you is an alligator. You can protects the castle and Ashey cannot sleeps without you."

Oz's pink little ears hung forward as he looked down at his hooves, ashamed for being what he was. Ally nuzzled him to no avail. After a few moments, she pulled away and went back toward the tree. Oz, fearing himself abandoned, began silently sobbed while berating himself. He hated his hooves and he hated his snout and he hated his curly tail. The thought of cooking himself came to mind. He could make himself into Christmas breakfast, so at least Ally and Williams and Ashey would have a full tummy and not worry about dealing with him. The flames licked in front of him while their popping and snapping, inviting him in.

Ally plopped a present next to him. Oz pretended to ignore the gift, but Ally made it difficult when she knocked him on his side with it. Before Oz could get up, Ally was on top of him, pinning him down and whispering. Oz conceded, and got up. Walking over to the present, he examined it closely. "Hopes you did nots spend much." Oz lamented. "You could have boughts yourself something nice." Ally lurched at Oz menacingly. "Alright! Alright, I opens it!" Oz tugged on a few corners and the paper came loose. He pulled it off, revealing a little black box with gold lettering. Oz poked it with his nose and pulled off the lid. Inside was a long red ribbon with silver and gold weaving through it. It was thick and woolly, and at this time it dawned on Oz that it was a new ribbon for him. Spying the tag stuck to the crumpled paper he saw in Ashley's delicate handwriting "To Oz, from Ally." It was a new ribbon, because his old one was so tattered and stained from their escape.

Everything came back to Oz in a flood, and he couldn’t hold it back.

He began to sob uncontrollably. Feeling himself undeserving of love, especially after saying all those mean things to Ally, he collapsed and wept. Ally curled around him, and bundled the scarf as a pillow for him. He wept himself to sleep, and she stayed by his side.

And when morning came they were found asleep by Ashley and William, who gazed at them lovingly. Ashley scooped up Ally, who still slept even while held in the air. William slipped a hand under Oz's rump and steadied him with the other, lifting him to his shoulder.

"My scarf! My scarf!" Oz yelped, rousing violently from his sleep. William gathered it quickly, and Oz snatched it from his fingers frantically. William and Ashley were clearly confused as they watched him bury his face in it.

“I think I’m ready to talk about things.” Ally said from Ashley’s arms. “I think Oz is too.”

Ally felt most safe in the den, with the tree and fire’s warmth. Everyone took their usual places, with Oz wearing his new ribbon and Ally nuzzled into Ashley’s outstretched feet. At first, everyone was quiet.

Now Ally had rarely spoken at length, but she had sometime recently decided that it was a habit worth breaking. Her voice flowed, much like a stream that had suddenly been un-dammed. It wasn’t like a huge billowing avalanche of water, but instead more of a freed stream that rolled straight and smooth. The kind of stream that you would delight to place your hand in. Truth was that just then and there Ally realized why she rarely spoke and the reason was simple. No one really listened, and her voice never mattered. But here, in this warm place of love, she could craft her words knowing that they will be heard.

And with that elegant voice, each sentence a sculpture, she described what they looked like. She was articulate in detailing their faces, their manners of speech, and the way they moved. Obviously, she had been mulling over memory after memory for some time, trying to bring each fragment together into one comprehendible whole.

Her oration continued and without a single falter in her speech she told of every cruelty, aggression, ache, abuse, and every betrayal. Ally was unapologetic and unashamed with everything, and as her mellifluous voice smoothly revealed her and Oz’s past, Oz hid his face with his hooves.

The tales continued far longer than any would wish to hear. William’s eyes glossed over as he stared at the fire, numbness in his face as his mind vividly played out all that he heard. The more Ashley listened, the more she stroked Ally’s tail, always gentle and conscience. It was the only thing she could do, as tears came down her cheeks.

Ally finally came to their escape and their long trek through the wheat and mud.

“For the longest time, I thought they would come back after me.” Ally confessed. “I was afraid to love you because when and if they took me away, I would miss being here so much.” She began to choke up. “But only people who love you come after you . . .” Trying not to make her grunting sound, she continued. “I’m okay here. I knew a place like this must exist, and I found it. It’s my country, discovered . . . I knew it had to be.”

“I did nots.” Oz broke in solemnly, slumped in the crook of William’s elbow. “I was so certains that there was no happy place . . . at night Ally would talks about it after everybody was asleeps. It was the only time she talked. I knew that there was no such places for a worthless piggie like me, but for Ally . . . she deserved better. They hurts me, like Ally said. And there was nothings I could do to stop them, but they hurts Ally too . . . and I . . . I hads to do somethings!” Oz burst into tears, but struggled through them, shouting out the rest. “I planned our escapes and I got us out and we left into the nights and no one will hurts her again because I loves her and I did nots stop them! I did nots! Places like this are nots for peoples like me! Is for Ally! Is for Ally!”

Oz was a wreck, and William rocked him while kissing the top of his head. Ally sprung from Ashley’s feet to William’s, and was quickly at Oz’s side.

“I’m okay.” Ally said to him. “You got me out. Remember, you are a brave piggie. You are a brave piggie.” She said, licking his tears away. Ashley was soon with them, and William’s chair creaked under the weight of all four of them snuggling.

After a silent breakfast, filled with smiles that squeezed out tears, they all found themselves back in the den.

“It’s okay to feel good, Oz.” Ally said. “It’s okay to have a nice Christmas without being made to feel guilty and undeserving of presents.”

Oz nodded, his gaze low. Just then William and Ashley came in from seemingly nowhere, scooped him up, and they hugged and kissed him wildly. He was so taken and delighted that he oinked and snorted uncontrollably. Setting him down in William's chair, Oz flushed with a tinge of embarrassment at his uncontrollable display of joy. The first thing they did was pull out the presents from Oz. He had done his best, obviously, with a whole batch of washed truffles for Ashley in a basket (courtesy of Captain Cromwell), a sharpened and cleaned quill pen for William (obtained from a certain reluctant, though yielding, night hawk), and a small round clay slab with an imprint of his nose and hooves for Ally. Everyone loved Oz’ gifts, and didn't bother with the others for a bit. William tried out his pen while Ashley went to the kitchen to prepare the truffles. Ally ogled over her gift, nuzzling the indents of Oz's snout. Oz, despite his best efforts, could do nothing but be pleased that those he loved were so happy with what he got them. Soon he ran to the present pile and began attempting to pull out other presents. Ashley stopped him gently, and picked him up. She kissed his nose.

"We all love you, little oinker. Little Oz. And you too Ally." She looked at both of them, her eyes welling with love. “I’m so sorry for what’s happened. Things can be horrible sometimes, and unfair. I’m so glad you got away. And I’m so glad you’re here, because in the end, after all the that can happen has, all that remains is each other. The people we choose to be with, and the people who choose to be with us.”

Ally beamed, sitting upright on the floor with her tail flapping from side to side.

“You’re both so strong.” William said, mostly at a loss for words.

"Now . . ." Ashley set Oz down. "You two go fish out some presents. And know that you both mean the world to us, and we’re so happy and thankful that we found you."

Oz nodded, then walked to Ally. “Do you forgives me for not stoppings them?” Oz asked, seemingly terrified of the answer.

“There’s nothing to forgive, okay?” Ally returned. “You saved me. Those ears of yours, listening to me every night saved me. You got me out of there.” Ally mouthed a ‘thank you.’

They embraced, so tightly that there was no room for anything between them like bitterness or avarice. Only love.

And soon after they both dove into the presents, rusting ornaments free from their Christmas perches!

“Oh, Oz!” something occurred to William “Where did you find Ashley’s truffles?”

Oz’s head poked up from the demolished present-cityscape like a little pink Godzilla. “We doves back to the under-vaults and saw a pirate ships filled with skeletons and they gaves me them!”

After he disappeared back into the presents, William turned to Ashley with a smile. “Our little fibber. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I still get a kick out of the whole ‘bearded lady’ story. That’s my favorite.”

“I, uh, I wouldn’t be so quick to discount what he says . . . because, after all, this is said from an anthropomorphic stuffed pig.” She winked.

They both smiled at each other, but the same thought crossed their minds and sadness came through in both of their faces. They held hands, knuckles pink, while their imaginations took them into the places and situations that had just been described to them. Their hearts swelled with pity and horror at the cruelty toward the alligator named Ally, and the little pig named Oz.

There were no acceptable or permitable reasons not to love them.

© William L. J. Galaini