Fascinating creatures can be observed on ordinary sidewalks: a green parrot riding atop a baseball cap, a spiny iguana clinging to human shoulders, a poodle with a purple mohawk.
But the morning I caught sight of a young man in a bathrobe and sandals inching down the sidewalk behind an enormous tortoise, I had to chuckle.
Both were moving very slowly.
I sat at a table outside Starbucks and downed my espresso and had a whole twelve minutes to kill before work. There was nothing else interesting to watch, so I watched.
The young man took one tiny footstep every eternity. In eight minutes he had moved perhaps three feet.
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out where he and his tortoise were going.
I had to jump up.
“He’s really big,” I said, stopping beside the young man.
“Does she have a name?”
“Betsy,” replied the young man. As if my question were impertinent, he stared at me squarely in the eye. “What’s it to you?”
I almost flinched. “Nothing. I’m just curious, that’s all. I saw you both coming down the sidewalk. One doesn’t expect to see a huge tortoise in the middle of a city.”
“I don’t know. It just strikes me as something that’s funny. At least you don’t need a leash! Don’t you get tired of moving so slowly?”
“Why would I?”
Now I was becoming annoyed. This unaccountable person was trying my patience. I managed to find polite words. “It seems like you would get really bored after awhile, staying in one spot, without much change of scenery.”
“Do you get bored?” asked the young man.
The young man stared at me for a long while, his unblinking eyes peering directly into my own. “Maybe you get bored because you’re moving too fast.”
As an excuse to flee, I glanced at my watch.
2 thoughts on “Following a Tortoise”
Hi there. 🙂
Whenever Jack (over at WdC) suggests we check something out, I know it’ll be a fun read. I generally thank him and occasionally return to the page(s) for quick checkup on what’s new.
You my friend, should be mandatory reading. I have not been disappointed by a single story. You have quite a gift for the complexities of simplicity. I greatly appreciate you sharing such intricate stories with us.
I have even greater gratitude that I’ve found someone I can learn from. Thank you.
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Wow! Thank you! You know that as a writer it can be hard to evaluate one’s own creation. Your compliment made my day! I must confess that when I reread my stories, I sometimes make changes. Like life itself, finding the right words seems to be a work in progress.