By Lorry Myers
I saw it in the road up ahead and knew what was going to happen.
“STOP!” my grade school daughter shrieked, just like I knew she would. Mariah’s voice was full of life or death, as if she was experienced in both.
This sunny day we were on our way out of town when in front of us was a turtle crossing the road. There have been countless creatures like this along the highways of my life and rarely did they slow me down. Now, there is that pitiful plea from the back seat in a voice that can’t be ignored.
My middle school daughter, riding in the front seat, looked at me, rolled her eyes and groaned.“Why us?” Hilary huffed. “Why do we always have to save the day?”
This whole thing started when my husband inadvertently ran over a turtle and the sound of that haunts Mariah to this day. She made her Dad promise that from then on, he would pull over and carry all the turtles to safety.
“We have to!” she wailed, clutching her heart. “Who else will save the day?”
But what we had in front of us was no ordinary turtle. I pulled over and the three of us held hands and cautiously approached the creature, dumbfounded by what we saw. It was a beast, its shell the size of a large pizza! The rounded top was mottled by spiney bumps and its long tail dragged the ground, leaving a signature behind. Surely this animal had crawled from a giant fissure in the earth, a lost relative of the dinosaurs.
This was no ordinary turtle.
“Get it, Mom!” my wide-eyed, trusting daughter called from across the hot pavement.“Get it!”
How was I going to“Get it”? That thing looked like it could take off my leg! Still I knew it had to be done or the rest of our day would be ruined. So I crept behind that turtle, and reached for its shell, planning to lift it the few remaining feet to safety. I always believed turtles were slow; at least that’s how the story goes, but at the speed of light that turtle’s head shot around, jaws wide and snapping. I snatched my hand back just in time, counting my fingers to make sure. When I looked into that turtle’s face, I could see death in it’s red eyes.
“Run, run for your life!” I shouted, convinced we were all going to be eaten alive.
So we did, not looking back until we were safely in the car, doors locked. But in the rear view mirror, there was Mariah, standing on the roadside, arms crossed in total disgust.
I slowly walked back and tried to reason with her. “I can’t do this, it’s too dangerous.” I explained. “This is a wild creature and it does not like us.”
She was not leaving, Mariah informed me, until the turtle was safe. This child of mine is not only soft hearted, but hardheaded and stubborn too.
She gets that part from her father.