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He was just starting out into South Boulder Road; we were on our way to dinner.

The turtle was big, about like a dinner plate, and I was wearing a longish dress.   The kind of thing that drags on the ground when you bend.  There was bending in my future.

He was headed north, that was no problem.   I figured I’d carry him across four lanes and deposit him somewhere over there.  Over here had houses upon houses; they sat on huge lots to be sure, but still.  Over there had acres of gentle rolling grassland and a big pond.

If you gave me a million dollars and asked, “do turtles run?” I’d have said no.  No, they do not.

I jumped out of the truck and trotted over.  The turtle swiveled his head and gave me one eye.  I bent, he sprinted off.

I lunged and stepped on my dress.  Then I stepped on it again and I was in this weird, running half-crouch with cars coming at 50 mph.  The turtle was in the lead.  I stood up and turned toward the traffic, one hand up:  no, stop!! Cars stopped, a long way off.  I guess they thought they were seeing some Crazy in action.

At this point the turtle had slowed to a jog but when I came toward him he broke into a dead run and once again, we were off.

Every story must turn, and eventually I had him by the shell.  I held him out in front of me while he scrabbled and scrabbled and scrabbled with his claws and we picked our way through the tall grass on the north side of the road.

Then I came to a fence, a six-footer.  I held him up, gauging the distance.  It couldn’t be good, dropping a turtle into tall grass from six feet.  Scrabble, scrabble, scrabble.  We were late for dinner.

Scrabble.  Ugh, stop!  Can’t you stop that for one second, turtle?

I lifted him up to eye level.  We glared at each other. Scrabble, scrabble, scrabble.

“Now you listen to me,” I hissed.  “We need to get you on the other side of this fence, you jerk.  I picked you up so you wouldn’t get smashed by a car and I’m just trying to figure out what to do, here.  Knock it off so I can think.”

He promptly pulled all his parts into his shell.  I stared at him, then I turned and looked back at the truck, shimmering away on the asphalt in the late-summer heat.  My husband’s arm poking out of the window, palm up.  What are you doing? My dress waving in the wind.

I turned toward the fence and looked down at the motionless turtle in my hands.  What was I doing?   I looked right and then left.  The fence stretched on at some length.

I gave the fence a half-hearted kick and my foot met nothing:  the fence didn’t go all the way to the ground!

I set the turtle in the grass and pulled the fence toward us.  I gave him a little shove and then I waited.  And waited.  Suddenly his parts all shot out of the shell and with one quick swivel and a resentful glare, he took off for the pond.

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