Hitching A Ride With Turtles
The sea foam flecked from the breakers like ballerinas leaving the ocean for a dance on the sands. Odd really, that they should be travelling in the opposite direction to me.
I’d planned and better planned, then planned some more, but once one is faced with the result of so much planning things often take unseen twists. And so it was for me. The turtles arrived on the beach at the same time on the same day of the same month every year, yet here I stood beneath the moon with my gear all ready and there wasn’t a single one.
I paced the quicksilver waterline, the same full moon also lightning distant beaches, a constant wetting of my feet as it drew me into the surf. With every optical sense straining for activity, I stared at the sea: Nothing. A myriad scenarios flicked through my head from crazed shark attacks to faulty GPS signals, but there weren’t sharks in these waters and turtles didn’t use GPS?
The longest sigh I’d ever uttered slipped from somewhere deep inside, as I turned my back on the sea about to step away; slap, slap, then slap again, then more and more and more.
The turtles emerged from the water like miniature flying saucers having crashed into the surf. They jiggled and wriggled their way out onto the beach without a care for me or anything else and set about their business.
I found it fascinating watching them dig. They worked despite the obvious toll it took, struggled with the limbs God had given them, but succeeded. A million eggs must have been laid before the mothers turned to leave. That was my signal.
It didn’t take much effort to fasten my harnesses to a half-dozen of them; they were far too tired to resist. Like a coachman guiding his horses to the roadside, I tugged them towards and then into the water until my feet fell away and it was their turn to take point.
The turtles slipped into deeper water as though renewed, the toll of the night washed away in the salinity. Like a sub-aqua Ben-Hur, my chariot drawers took their last breaths, then towed me below into the dark and tepid waters. I was glad to go.
The two minutes I managed to hold my breath for were the best of my life. I was free in a realm without humans. My cares washed away as the bubbles slipped from my lips, and I grinned in the near darkness at the thrill of it all. What a way to go. What a sublime departure. Then, when I could hold out no more, my lungs straining for oxygen in a way my mind did not, I let go. As everything turned to midnight and the leashes I’d secured to my wrists no longer hurt, my only thought was to which strange shore I’d wash upon and if she’d even care.