Paige’s Plantation, Part Two
by Jacqueline Patterson @jacpatterson
Haven’t y’all been holding your sweet breath to find out how Paige’s plantation adventure ends? I know I have. Okay, not really, because I read it a month ago ~ the perks of being the editor and post curator. But you haven’t.
And it just wouldn’t be right for me to keep you waiting any longer. So here you are, alligators and all.
~ ~ ~
Rhene grabbed my arm, whispered, and pointed. “Look. See it? Out on that little island?”
My leg was about to be claimed.
“Where?” My gaze dropped to a gator hole on the bank, checking frantically. Rhene’s hold tightened on my arm until I was forced to look up, following her gaze until I saw it, almost hidden in the high grass of the island.
The baby alligator turned its head toward us for an instant before returning to sunning himself on the bank, completely unconcerned about our presence.
A baby gator. I stared at its tiny scale-tipped body and enormous eyes and the sudden swell of emotion inside me was frightening.
Because I. Wanted. That. Gator.
“Whoa.” Rhene released my arm and pulled out her phone. She snapped several pictures in quick succession. “You don’t see the babies very often. Everything wants to eat them.”
Apparently the old gators are tasty only when fried like chicken. I wasn’t about to find out.
Rhene zoomed in through the grass in an effort to get a clear shot on the baby’s level. “Ha. Looks like we’re being watched.” I turned in the direction she was pointing, just in time to see a full-sized gator sinking below the surface until his eyes looked like bubbles floating in the water. Obviously he could smell the deep fryer heating up.
“See what I mean?” She said. “The old ones are cowards.”
The adult gator’s eyes completely disappeared under the water. The baby remained where it was, tilted between the shallow water and the grass like a discarded toy.
I swear it wanted to come home with me.
“It’s illegal, but some people keep the babies as pets,” Rhene confided. “They grow —or don’t grow— according to their environment. Keep them in a cage, and they will remain the size they are now, stunted even though they’ve reached adulthood.”
OK, so keeping one was completely out of the question. But I still found myself looking back as we left the marsh.
Twilight found us on the porch of the overseer’s cabin, the wind setting heavy branches creaking above the roof. In the distance three bald eagles circled above an enormous nest in a nearby pine, their wings ghostly in the dimming light. Always flying, but never landing.
In my heart, I too was flying the skies.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!