It was a dreary Thursday morning, the type filled with mean-spirited grey clouds that have nothing better to do than to hover over you with a scowl, just daring you to dry your hair and make their day. Intimidated by the weather and low on time, I showered, pulled my wet hair back into a scraggly ponytail, and bellowed to my siblings from the bottom of the stairs that it was time to go. Little did I know that before the day was through an adoring public would badger me into a photo shoot.
As I plodded out to my car to unbuckle textbooks to make room for student bodies instead, something caught my eye. A small white box dangled from the handle of my car, contrasting sharply with the murky black exterior. Curiosity nipped at my fingertips, but time was running low, so I reluctantly pocketed the parcel for a later examination.
But as soon as I was able to brake, I peeled my eyes off the road and pasted them on the tiny container. I carefully opened it and excavated its contents, a brightly painted plaster turtle armed with a crumpled-up note. The note was from the turtle itself. In plaintive poetics, he informed me that my boyfriend Eric had received something in the mail and was refusing to reveal its contents to the turtles that lived in his apartment. The turtles were sure that it was for them and thought Eric was being unreasonable in withholding their surprise. So they had rebelled, breaking out of his apartment and high-tailed it (as only turtles can) in my direction. If anyone could unmask Eric’s secret, they were sure it was me.
As much as I cared about the plight of such innocent creatures, I had other more urgent concerns weighing on my mind, like my 8:00 World Civ quiz. But those turtles would not be ignored. When I scampered into my first class at 7:55, another determined-looking turtle was squatting vigilantly on my desk. Of course this one had his own sob story, an entreaty as equally eloquent as the first.
And that wasn’t the last I would hear from a turtle that day either. They were everywhere – hitching a ride in my friend Justin’s car, lodged in Eric’s lunch sack, crouching carefully on the desks of my afternoon classes – one especially plucky soul was even lurking in the toaster! All bore powerful (and startlingly rhythmic) pleas accentuated by their equally poignant pouts.
But the tardiest turtle, who clung sheepishly to the slippery surface of Eric’s textbooks when he came home from work, was the one that really won me over. That naughty turtle had been caught in the act of peeking into the prohibited package itself. And, although he had been roughly reprimanded and swiftly sworn to secrecy, he was permitted to squeak out that its contents had been worth the wait. Overcome with compassion for the curious beasts (and, truth be told, a little curiosity myself), I importuned Eric, begging that the boxes fabled innards be revealed to the turtle community at large.
Of course, Eric was unable to resist the sweetness of my countenance, and so the turtles assembled with great solemnity. Before the silent crowd, Eric produced a large, circular tin. So that the shorter members of the turtle community could have a better view, he even got down on one knee. And since I was the only one present with opposable thumbs, I was permitted to do the honors. Greedily grasping the lid, I uprooted it to reveal – another turtle, a ceramic one adorned with exotic flowers, swirls, spirals, and even a disgruntled frown. The turtle’s were ecstatic, elated at the prospect of any new addition to their ranks, even an ornery one.
I was also pleased. Not wanting me to stop there, Eric pointed out that what probably ailed the poor turtle was nothing but a stomachache. I quickly assented, performing an emergency abdominal operation, amputating the turtle’s shell, victoriously extracting its ailmenta bejeweled, Angela-sized ring (or a perfectly good turtle necklace, depending on who you ask). Agreeing that it must indeed be the former, Eric quickly proposed, slipped it on my finger, and signaled for the blood-related paparazzi to pour in through the side doors.
Slightly disgruntled by my scraggly hair-do, for a few minutes I grumbled gently at the turtle’s under my breath. Eventually, however, it passed. After all, who can stay angry at a turtle anyway?
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