Where the Turtle Plays

As I sit on the rocks, I almost reach serenity.
I do not sit in silence.
There is wind. The rustle of the trees. The chirp of the locusts in the trees.
Occasionally, the plop of a frog on the lilies.
Lilies.
They cover the water like grass covers the soil.
But they do not grow in the current.
They cannot survive the rush of water.
The middle looks like a river.
A river in the middle of a lake.
I look past my feet.
Only one more foot down is the water.
I see the fish swimming past, oblivious that I am watching.
The plop of the frogs seems to be closer.
They are coming for me.
No.
They are coming for the dragon flies playing at my feet.
If I close my eyes, maybe the dragon flies will turn in to fairies,
and the frogs in to princes.
A new sound.
The hum of a motor.
It is breaking my non-silence.
But soon, if I let it, it will fade in with the rest of the noise.
Like the chatter of the small boy fishing in the next clearing.
But no.
The motor comes closer.
It can’t reach me, because I am too close to shore, and in a small bay.
I see the boat now.
Fighting to break free of the lilies.
Reaching for the middle.
They are going to scare the turtle away.

He showed me the turtle.
The small boy.
He has a lovely Texan drawl.
And hair so blond it looks white.
He showed me the log where the turtle plays.
The log right next to me.
A tree, fallen in to the lake.
Its roots growing towards the sky.
I saw the turtle twice.
The first time, the boy scared it away.
I was alone the second time; I tried not to frighten it.
But the leaves gave me away.
So I sit by the log and wait and hope.
I like the turtle.
Its shell protects him from almost everything.
But what happens if he rolls over?
He dies because of his most valuable protection.
Irony.
I hear footsteps.
The leaves give everyone away.
I see blonde hair peeping from a tree.
I hear a stifled giggle.
I get scared when he jumps out at me.
At first, I was annoyed.
My non-serenity had been invaded.
But then I thought of his squeals of delight, when I tickled him in the hammock.
At first I was annoyed that he kept jumping on me.
Then I tickled him.
The thought of his laughter made me smile.
The thought that I made him smile makes me laugh inside my head.
I love the boy and he doesn’t even know my name.
It’s better that way.
When next we meet, he’ll not recall me, or these few days of fun we’ve spent
together.
I’m glad I can make him giggle.
I’m glad he doesn’t fear me.
Neither does his sister.
The girl.
Only three months in to her long stay.
The first time I saw her baby-blue eyes I fell in love with them.
I change when I hold her in my arms.
I like the way she feels.
Heavy as a rock, yet light as a feather.
Her smooth skin. Soft. Cool. Chubby.
The way she molds in to me.
When I hold her on my chest, I can almost see her relax to my heart beat.
When I move, she moves her head to get a better listen.
I like to close my eyes and listen to her coo and blow raspberries.
She leaves little puddles of drool on my shirt.
I don’t care.
One day, the Boy might show her the special place where the turtle plays.
Plop.
The sound of a heavy frog snaps me out of reverie.
The bullfrogs are rehearsing for tonight’s concert.
Funny how you can hear them, but can never quite catch a glance of them.
They sound like snapping banjo strings.
I didn’t know what they were the first time I heard them.
I wish I could sit longer.
I know for sure that if I waited quietly, the turtle would appear again.
But a voice screams at me.
I feel un-natural and guilty about screaming back.
The voice disregards the non-silence and non-serenity around my magical place.
This place where I am as alone as I can manage to get.
Yet, where I am anything but lonely.
But the voice is insistent.
The voice doesn’t understand. I wish I could explain it.
But the voice can’t hear explanations over its own volume.
So I scream back, shattering the last remnants of peacefulness and serenity.
I cast my eyes downward and whisper an apology.
And as I climb the rock and reach the top, I look where I had been sitting.
I will miss that Place.
And as I leave the lake, the frogs, the fairies, the Boy, the Girl, and the non-
silence, I hope that the Place will be there when I return.
But I don’t have much hope of that.
I am not a turtle.

And this is the place where the turtle plays.
Summer 1998

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