In the beginning, it was two girls and a turtle, but things have changed over the last eight years.
The little creature that used to be “Alyssa’s” and then “ours” has completely become “mine”. No one really cares about Turtle except for me. When the family is all together during a holiday, I can animatedly talk about my little reptile, but no one is impressed by his antics. It’s not like he rolls over to play dead, fetches a bone, speaks on command or cuddles up on the couch. Turtle either swims or basks in the sunlight.
A few weeks ago I spent four hours changing out and/or scrubbing everything in Turtle’s tank. Before I started on the arduous task, I called and talked to my mother for a bit.
“What are you going to do tonight,” Mom asked.
“I have to clean Turtle and I’m dreading it. There is so much work involved,” I replied.
“You can’t really flush him down the toilet like I did with your goldfish. Just take him to the lake and set him free,” was Mom’s quick answer to my problem.
“I can’t do that Mother!” I said stressing the pronunciation of her name. “I love Turtle and he wouldn’t know how to take care of himself! I’ve taken care of him since he was the size of a quarter!” I said to her in shock at her suggestion.
Mom casually and without a whole bunch of emotion said, “He’s a turtle. He’ll be fine.”
I was thinking that she was insane if she really believed I was going to get rid of Turtle.
We talked for a few more minutes and then I needed to hang up so that I could clean the very large tank.
“Turtle? Mom told me to just set you loose in a lake! I can’t believe she suggested such a thing! Can you believe it?”
Of course, Turtle didn’t answer me back. Instead, he pressed his face against the glass and just stared at me.
“I’m not ever setting you free, Turtle,” I said. “Cleaning your tank is really a yucky task and I don’t know how I will ever be able to do it when I’m old and crotchity, but somehow we will make it together,” I proclaimed.
I sat and watched as he swam to and fro, stopping occasionally to stretch his neck way out of his shell. It is really unbelievable that his neck is so long. I love to look at Turtle’s yellowish stripes, orange tummy, long nails, large nostrils and cute, wrinkled skin.
Turtle helps me feel relaxed and peaceful. Can you really put a value on feeling relaxed and peaceful? No, I can’t either.
Turtle never makes a verbal reply no matter what I say to him, but that’s okay. He doesn’t have to say anything. I know what Turtle wants and needs. I am, after all, the Turtle Whisperer.