Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Kathleen Fortin
A small movement caught the corner of my right eye. Just the moment before, I stopped, glancing over at the pond as I always do when walking past it. The surface was still, only a few ripples out in the center. I'd spotted nothing along the wooded banks: no gangly herons, no colorful mallards.
What was it then? I stopped to find out. Stillness was all I heard. I waited a couple moments, surveying the corner where I stood. I saw something unusual. A symmetry stood out along one branch among many others that were partly submerged and partly above the pond's surface. What were those four dark objects, all in a horizontal line?
I took one step closer to the water's edge. The sole of my sneaker crunched against the roadside gravel, at the same time solving the mystery before me. The largest of the circular objects slid from the branch, disappearing into the murky water. In that instant I saw the round head and the pattern of a shelled back caught by the afternoon sun. A turtle. I hadn't seen one in years. Then came a chain reaction. A second turtle, the size of a demitasse saucer, slid down the side of the branch. It took more effort than the first one, which must have been its mother. I heard a distinct "plunk" and it was gone. A third quickly followed. When my eyes lost sight of that one, I watched the last one, not so quick to follow. It seemed like a long time before the lingering one finally decided to join the rest of its family. It teetered side to side and entered the water in a clumsy, sideways dive and then it was gone too, leaving longer lasting ripples than the others.
Walking away, I thought of how each of the young turtles had instinctively followed their mother. There was that one that stood out in my mind. It had behaved a little differently than its siblings and then my thought was, "Turtles are just like people."
Kathleen Fortin lives in Bedford, New Hampshire. She received a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College. She is a freelance writer and is writing a book about her Italian heritage.
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