Animal Dilemmas – Lama Giant Turtle
The Turtle was happy it was rid of the table. It never saw or knew of the sea horse but it had previously been stuck in tree roots and carried branches, once even a beam from a wrecked ship. It was tired of the monotonous island life and after a hundred years of obstacles and solitude it was ready for the afterlife. Its legs were tired and its shell had grown heavy. It could not see well with its left eye and half of the scenery was a blur.
The Turtle knew the end was near so it was bound for the Flower beach where it wanted to find final rest. The Flower beach was an isolated patch with the finest white sand and the calmest blue waters. It was a heaven of peace on earth where the gentle symphony of the waves could cure any ill. The Turtle was slower than ever but it was not in a hurry. It had learned over the years from its own experiment that hurrying is the poison of life.
It took it weeks to get to heaven. It was on of the last giant turtles and the oldest. So giants who did not take life seriously and instead preferred to toy with animals and show the pictures to their friends halted it frequently. They crowded around the turtle, sat on its back, inserted sticks to poke it awake so they can take pictures and ferry them to everyone they knew. The only weapon the Turtle had against their intrusion was patience. At least they gave it leaves and flowers to chew on.
Weeks later the Turtle could smell the Flower beach and over night it reached it. The soft warm sand made its legs happy. The blue music of the waves made it forget about the long walk. It had been on the Flower beach twice before. Once when it was young and could swim under the waves for hours, toying with colorful fish and scaring schools of shrimp out of their wits. The second time was when it first fell in love and wanted the share the magic of the soft sand with its mate just for the fun of it.
The white sand was full of good memories. They rose in warm waves engulfed the Giant’s soul and took it back with them into the calm blue waters. The next few days time stood still for the Turtle’s shell. As its flesh began to rot it attracted worms and flies. The smell of death filled heaven and alerted a passing giant. A good creature of few vices and stif self-discipline. An important giant in the study of the island life. The giant was equally sad and happy to discover the oldest Giant still and breathless.
He organized a forum and a group of equally well-thinking giants arrived with tools and transport. They surgically removed the rotting meet from the turtle shell, washed the scales and filled the void with wooden support before loading it away into a good sea boat.
The shell travelled many days inside a crate until it reached the main land. There it was first studied, measured, sampled and philosophized over years by many giants with long beards and stif goose in their step. Over the years gradually whatever could be witted and published about the shell was shared with the world and the interest in the shell declined. Until one day it was permanently displayed with many other fossils and stuffed animals inside a building.
Th shell rested on display for generations touched by many giant children. Regimes changed, peace became war and the science of the seas fell out of favor giving way to investments in machines that could destroy buildings and the giants in them. War reigned for years with no end in sight. The land was soaked in blood and art and culture war a pale memory in the minds of blood-drunk giants.
The building where the shell was housed was bombed and leveled with the ground but not before a general confiscated the turtle as a gift to his son. The shell traveled once again by land up into the mountains where the front lines bathed in blood were only read about. But before it reached a its final destination, on the shift of a drunken giant the transport fell over the edge of a cliff and rolled down killing the drunks. In the process the shell flew out and settled among the grassy stones. The giants deemed it irretrievable and carriers on.
Another period of stillness begun. The shell was overgrown with grass, a tightly knitted bush blocked its rare entrance when the winter snow melted it rolled a rock that lodged inside the left leg hole. The shell became a rare attraction for mice, lizards and snakes who took turns to live in it as nature dictated. Several generations of guinea pigs were raised in the domed structure until a floor forced the to upper slopes.
The Lama cub had been separated from the herd by the wild cat after great efforts of crawling and over cold rocks for two days. The cub was agile but the wild cat was faster and was gaining on it. The cub tripped and landed at the shell opening, it forced itself in with great difficulty, breaking a leg and splitting a ear. The wild cat assaulted the shell opening with great rage and fury, scratching its nails bleeding on the inside. The Lama rolled into the back corner and closed its eyes. After the assault failed the cub chewed on the bush leaves that grew through the holes and stayed in the shell for days. The wild cat accepted its defeat and found new prey.
The Lama lived in the shell for as long as it could fit in it. It spared the grass around it for harsh times. It kept to itself and joined no tribe. It studied the curves of the shell and worshiped the strange patterns. It searched for the same patterns at night in the stars. And when it found them it concluded the shell was a gift from the skies. It followed the shapes of the stars night every night until it knew when and where they appeared. It felt chosen and spacial to reside inside a celestial body. And even before it reached physical maturity it had grown spiritually more than any other lama.
When time came it left to search for a bigger cavity in which to be protected from all dangers. A place where it could continue to study the stars.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Animal Dilemmas – Tuesday, August 16th
previous chapter: Animal Dilemmas – Giant Turtle Sea Horse
all chapters: Animal Dilemmas
more by XIDAN
photograph by Paz Arando