Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Day Shelly Died

"I don't know it's alive or not, but it's adorable." 
Photo by Eric Aiden on Unsplash

Morning Readers,

When I gave my update last week, I was a bit remiss in naming everyone who currently resides in the Kellerman house.

Re-cap:

Humans = 6 Dog= 1 Cat= 1

But a couple months ago, Husband left the house one morning and, somewhere on his journey to work, forgot how many creatures he lives with. At day's end, he happened upon a small, baby turtle, and after extending it the courtesy of not running over it, decided to load it into his SUV. After which, he did what he always does when he finds an animal in want of shelter, and made it my responsibility.

Now, his account of this will differ, but it doesn't change the fact I was being made to embrace the animal kingdom once again and figure out what new smells I was about to deal with.

And messes.
And cost.
And having to fact check whether it would maul us in the middle of the night. (I've got a great track record on my research in that particular area.)

To a chorus of screams and shouts, Husband plopped the tiny turtle down in the middle of all Kellerman children, while they fired questions like a chaotic cannonball regiment.

"Where did you get it, daddy?"
"Will it bite my finger off?"
"Can I feed it grass?"
"Can I feed it some of the Twizzler I found under my bed?
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"It looks like a girl."
"It's ugly."

Reluctantly, I watched Husband sweep a row of my books off a shelf and install a tank, light, and various colored sands and imitation seaweed.

The turtle was living better than I was.

For the next few weeks, I spent my days guarding the soon-beloved reptile dubbed, "Shelly," by the children. Upon connecting the dots between the relation of this being a name and it also being what was on the turtle's back, they were sold. No one was more enthusiastic that Mrs. Jones, who spent most of the first few days trying to reach in, grab Shelly, and put her in a death hold.

But there came a day when the happiness ended.

One morning, while passing by the tank and peering at my newest charge, I noticed she'd stopped her optimistic paddling, and instead, stared into space. Still. Unseeing. How I looked when I watched the last episode of Lost.

I rocked the tank gently and, receiving no reaction in return, proceeded to stare at the tiny turtle for five, straight minutes. Breath? No. Eye movement? No. I wasn't a turtle expert, but everything about the situation looked like death.

The kids had spent many hours clambering around the fragile tank, talking about all the reasons they loved Shelly and how, if given the chance, they'd love to pull her around on a skateboard or see how'd she'd fair in a treacherous bath tub climate. I prepped myself to deliver the sad news and wondered if flushing a turtle down the toilet would end up costing a call to the plumber and half the fund I had set up for new underwear for everyone in 2018.

Later that afternoon, I broke the news. "Kids, the turtle's dead."

They looked at me in disbelief. One of the twins piped up, incredulous, "How do you know?"

I nodded solemnly. "I just know."

Crushed, the children went back to fighting with each other and asking for snacks every five minutes.

For the rest of the day, I hatched a well-thought-out plan to dump everything in the backyard and cover the failed herpetarium with a good dose of top soil and strong resolve to put my Dr. Doolittle crash course to an end. Things were getting ridiculous. I spent every waking minute keeping the kids alive, trying bolster the numbers of the turtle community was asking too much.




 

"Mom! The turtle's not dead! You were wrong."

The children stormed up to my room and demanded answers.

"Why'd you say that?"
"Why would you think she was dead?"
"She's swimming right now. Do dead turtles swim?"
The baby spoke her mind. "She no dead."

One child wrapped his arms around me. "Don't worry, you can still feed her. And fill her tank. And take care of her every day.

Oh good.

Re-cap:

Turtles: 1 Dogs: 1 Cats: 1 Kids: 4 Husband: 1 Mother who dug a hole in the backyard she can't use, but needs a stiff drink: 1

Until next Time, Readers!