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The Turtle Returns
I once had a box turtle, who kept escaping, and returning!
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (3)
Looking Over The Berlin Wall: (Non-Fiction) Personal Memories of a Divided Berlin [993 words] [History]
The Scents Of Danger (Children) When terrified as a kid, I could sense a certain something in my nose. [1,071 words] [Thriller]
What The Chipmunk Taught (Children) Native American grandfather and grandson each teach the other interesting lessons. [747 words]
The Turtle Returns
Charlie was a box turtle, who by rights ought to have been named Harry. For Harry Houdini,
the great escape artist, instead of a favorite bald uncle. I found him by a small creek one
summer day as I explored some woods. I was about ten, and so was Charlie, according to his
shell markings. I invited him home with me and he accepted. Of course he might also have
considered it kidnapping, but I was wide-awake when I did it ï¿½ honest!
A large cardboard box served as a temporary pen. I learned Charlie wasnï¿½t housebroken. Mom
suggested heï¿½d be happier outside. Dad set up a corral with some aluminum edging for flowerbeds.
A six inch metal barrier now gave Charlie a paradise of shrubs for shade, a soft carpet of lawn,
rocks to sun himself, a pan of water for when he wanted a dip, fresh lettuce and raw hamburger.
Charlie made a mad dash for the wall.
As we three watch in amazement the corral came flat with the simple push of Charlieï¿½s claw. The
flexible fence had failed without some posts for support. As we fixed the problem we let Charlie
free-range. He was going at ï¿½high speedï¿½ toward the large Elm in the middle of our backyard.
Before then the turtle was returned to test the improvements. Perhaps the terrapin was tired from
the dayï¿½s adventures, but he made no further assault on his enclosure and was soon asleep. I
shortly followed his example.
In the morning, no Charlie. Immediately, but with little hope, I went to the back of our property
where a marshy stretch would be cover for all kinds of wild life. No luck, so I backtracked toward
the house. There, in the nook of two large roots at the base of our Elm tree was the fugitive reptile.
I returned Charlie to his new home and brought him some fresh lettuce from the kitchen.
Only to discover upon return, Charlie demonstrating how he could escape the puny barrier we had erected.
He was raising himself upright against the barricade. Then he hooked those powerful paws on the edge and
pulled himself over the six inches vertical impediment, flipped over the other side and landed on his back.
He righted himself to his feet, after much fancy wriggling, a trick any good self-respecting turtle knows
how to do. Then after having providing me a with most amusing display of agility, Charlie went directly
back to his favorite spot at the big Elm tree.
That night when dad came home we went and bought more edging to double the height, used pop-rivets, longer stakes, maximum security quarters for Harry ï¿½ err ï¿½ I mean Charlie. The next morning, Mr. Box Shell was a no show, again. This time it was mom who went out to provide fresh water and sounded the sirens, or at least yelled up to me in my room the unexpected, but some how not unsurprising news. I called back my guess as to where our prodigal turtle would turn up. Minutes later, the all clear was sounded, as the escapee was returned.
Not long after, my Motherï¿½s shrieks brought my father and I downstairs in a great hurry. She was outside next to Charlieï¿½s pen, howling with laughter. She pointed and we began to roar too. There was Charlie, the Houdini of turtles, in the middle of escaping again. Not over - but under, his head already out and the lip of the silvery corral rising up over the shell, the grass depressed under him in the shallow dip that had provided the opening to freedom. We all went into eat breakfast, Charlieï¿½s destination was known; weï¿½d pick him up back
at the Elm later for being AWOL.
That weekend Dad and I built a new larger corral, around the tree. There was no reason to run (fast for a turtle anyway), no need to run away from home when Charlieï¿½s Elm was at the center of his peaceful abode. But while the pen was escape-proof finally, Charlie did get sprung, he had a friend on the outside see. Me. When the Elmï¿½s leaves began to turn, it was time to return Charlie to the spot I had found him, so he could winter in his more natural environs.
I took him back to just where he was discovered by the little stream. As I carried Charlie down to the bank and looked at the surroundings, I realized something that I had not noticed on my first visit. There was a huge Elm tree on the side of the brook, with root nooks for Charlie to feel at home in. Indeed, Charlie was really home, as I set him down at the treeï¿½s base; thus the turtle returned at last.
Why did Charlie want to escape?
Why did Charlie go to the big Elm tree?
What did the people do to make Charlie feel at home.
When is a jail ever home?
Can a home ever be a prison; no matter how nice?
Why is the storyï¿½s title not ï¿½The Turtle Escapadesï¿½?
What was Charlie's real goal all along?
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© 2010 Dave Springer
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