I have never have been far from my roots. I grew up half a mile down a dirt road, know how to spit into a spittoon if the occasion calls for it, and doknow how to handle the ladies on the dance floor, thank you mama. But livingin Colorado Springs, and half that time underground, has made me forget alittle of my Southern ways.
But only a little.
It was like a homecoming for a long lost Baptist church member. Fried chickenand everything; I don’t think I have ever eaten so much in my life. And BigMama, bless her heart, she kept bringing more food, kept tutting at Valaabout how skinny she was. Of course my aunt Polly Sue was no better. Somehowwe made it through. I was able to get Vala to the small pond where I learnedthe fine art of fishing from a willow branch.
Vala looked around and leaned over to me. “Why are they looking at you likethey haven’t seen you in forever?”
“Because they haven’t,” I said, casting out my rod again. “That and they are trying to see if we are a ‘we’ or just someone of the moment.”
“Because they have daughters.”
“Oh.” Vala tried to cast her rod out but got it stuck in the mud. Giving up on yanking it out, she turned back to me. “What does that have to do with anything?”
I gave a short laugh. How do I explain the Southern ways to an … alien, ofall people? Southern women are like fine wine: they get better at naggingand hunting for bargains as time goes on.
Mothers are always looking to better their daughters and fathers dote onthem like they are the lily of the valley and princesses. Us boys are toldthat we have to make sure chivalry is not dead, women are always treatedlike queens, and if the lil’ miss wants a new house, by God, work your assoff to please her.
“A mother is always attracted to a man who is handsome or rich for theirdaughter. Perspective son-in-laws who are both rich and handsome are catchesthat should not be shared with the neighbors. Moms are always reeling usin and setting us up with daughters, cousins, nieces, and once even wantedto take my friend as her much younger lover. Let me tell you his senior yearin high school was… bizarre.” I looked at Vala and smiled. “However thereare rare instances when two people meet and it’s perfect.”
Vala looked at me for a second and then matched my smile. “Really?”
“Yup. You see, the southern boy is raised to know that inside every girl there is that wild streak. They are wild and naughty, and don’t like the confinesof society. But it’s not proper to admit it, yet it’s known.” Cam pulledVala closer to him on the dock, and leaned into her and added, “And everyman wants to be the one who brings that wildness out.”
“Oh sounds hot.”
“You have no idea.”
Vala looked across the pond once more, brushing her hair across my cheek. It smells like spring flowers and an exotic spice. It’s the smell of Vala Mal Doran. She pointed to my line and nudged me, making me look back out onthe water.
“Oh, this could be a big one!” I say, pulling on the reed and the line, bringingwhatever was making my line bob come closer to the dock. I jump up to geta better grip and Vala reaches for the line, to help bring it closer. “Keepit coming! Yeah!”
I reach down and try to find the hook under the water while Vala hikes theline up further. I see the tip of the hook and plunge both of my hands underthe water and around something big and slimy. I throw Vala a big grin; thisis right up there with shooting at Ori. I haul out the BIG CATCH and cradlethe squirming thing.
“What is that?” Vala asks, wrinkling her nose.
“This is what we call the daddy of the fishes. This is a cat fish and abeaut at that!” I say, handing it to Vala. I whoop and holler like I wasback in high school as Vala, wide eyed, squirms to keep the fish in her armsand at the same time give it back to me.
Finally she and the fish teeter over the edge of the dock and arms and fishgo flailing, and I leap across the fallen rods and try to catch Vala as shethrows the fish over her head and starts to fall backwards. The fish doesa big splash, and so does Vala. Of course by that time I have lost all mybalance and join, landing on top of Vala.
“Oh!” Vala says, as I bob out of the water next to her. “Let’s not do thatagain.”
I laugh and nod. “Well that’s fine. Since we are already in the pond, may as well introduce you to the art of swimming in the watering hole. Another wonderful southern past time.” I swam next to her and held her up; I forgot to ask if she had even been swimming to begin with.
“I feel like a ton of bricks actually,” Vala said, as she turned her headand gasped more air.
I leaned over and whispered, “Usually we would do this at night and no clotheson.”
Vala’s eyes lit up as she looked back at me. “Really?” she asked, drawing it out. “We may have to come back and try that. Perhaps this swimming thing isn’t so bad after all.”
“I figured you would like that.”
I heard footsteps on the dock and looked up. “Oh thank God!” Polly Sue exclaimed.“I thought you had drowned!”
“Nope, just rescuing the lil’ lady as she fell in,” I said, swimming tothe sand bar. I showed Vala it wasn’t as deep and she could walk the restof the way.
“You are so kind, Cameron,” my aunt said. I smiled and nodded. Good ol’ Southernboy, rescuing the damsel in distress. She took Vala’s arm and helped herup on the grass. “You are so lucky to have him, dear,” she said, pattingVala’s arm.
Vala looked at me over her shoulder and winked. “Yes I am.”
I watched her with my aunt go back up to the house as I fetched the rods, her shorts and pigtails distracting me. As much as I love the little southern girl ways, I was finding myself drawn to an equally lovely alien who seemed to have just as much sass, charm and long legs.
God how I love em’ Southern Girl Aliens.