When I was five, I had the best Easter vacation ever. I flew all by myself from Michigan to Florida to stay with my Grandparents and Great Aunts. Grandad and I had wonderful adventures, but then I had to go home and back to school.
Grandad didn't forget me, though.
When I got home from school one day, I found a long cardboard box the mailman had left on the front porch. It was addressed to me! It said, "LIVE ANIMALS" on it. Mom and I took it into the house and, after we took off our coats, we opened it up. It was a real baby alligator. He lay very still in his long box.
"Oh," I said, "he must be cold."
So I took him out of his box, wrapped him warmly in a towel and named him Aladin.
Aladin was not the most active of pets, but he was very obliging about being carried around, I took him everywhere and talked to him constantly.
After a couple of days, Aladin started to smell a little funny and Mom suggested that it might be time to bury him.
I was absolutely appalled. Aladin might not hop around like a bunny, but he was a good alligator and we were best friends. I argued until I was blue in the face, then resorted to crying. Mom finally said that I could keep Aladin a little longer, but that he had to stay in the garage instead of the house.
Poor Aladin, how lonely for him.
The next day, as I left for school, I made a detour by the garage and scooped up Aladin in his towel. The big plan was to have the most interesting show and tell of anyone.
As I walked down the school hall, teachers came to their classroom doors, wrinkling their noses and asking, "What's that?"
"This is Aladin, my real baby alligator," I announced proudly.
I took him into Miss Garnsey's kindergarten class and put him on the long table at the front of the room. Everybody stared at Aladin. They were terribly impressed that I had a real baby alligator. Even the principal came in as I was telling all about Aladin and what a talented and clever alligator he was.
Pretty soon my Mom walked into the classroom. She said it was time for Aladin and me to come home.
"No, it's not. School's not over yet. Aladin likes it here."
But Mom wouldn't listen. She made me wrap Aladin in his towel again and shooed me out of the room.
I trailed far behind her, scuffing my feet as I walked. She must have understood how disappointed I was because she didn't scold me or tell me to stop dawdling like she usually did. I unwrapped Aladin to cuddle him, but his tail fell off. I sat on the sidewalk and cried.
Mom turned around and watched me trying to stick Aladin's tail back on. She shook her head and said. "I'm going on home. You wrap Aladin back up and come home too, but don't come inside. You wait for me in the back yard."
When I got home, Mom brought out the box Aladin had arrived in and told me to put him and his towel into it. Then we went behind the garage and dug a hole halfway to China. We put Aladin in his box into the hole and covered the top of it with lilies of the valley. My little brother and sister came and stood solemnly by as I filled the hole with dirt. We said, "Ashes to ashes and dust to dust."
It was a lovely funeral. But then Aladin was a lovely alligator - even if he did smell a little funny.