Shell of a Story Pt. 1

There was a turtle in the desert, which had a very big problem. Well two problems, if you consider being a turtle in the desert to be one. This turtle did not mind the desert, but he wished his shell wasn’t so very hot. One day, while munching on a saguaro, he got an idea. He couldn’t remove his shell, but maybe he could add something to make it stay cool.

The cactus he was eating had delicious water inside, maybe it could absorb the heat and stop it from warming his shell. With some clever tumbles and a little sticky nectar, he managed to glue two chunks of cactus to his back. He got back on his feet, and strolled out into the desert.

For a while, he did feel cooler, and thought himself very clever indeed. Slowly, though, as the sun moved across the sky, he realized that the cool feeling had been from the shade of the cactus. On top of that, the chunks were heavy, and slowed him down even more. Once night fell he sat down to think. As he was trying to figure out a lighter, more effective solution, a jackrabbit stole up behind him, and chewed a hole in the cactus before he could react. He stared at the rabbit sadly, the way only a turtle could.

“I’m sorry.” Said the rabbit, noticing the turtle attached to his dinner, “Were you saving these?”

“Oh no, I suppose not.” He sighed morosely, “I was using them to keep cool, but they don’t work when the sun is in the wrong spot.”

“Oh keeping cool is easy, you just crawl in a hole when the sun is high, and come out at night.”

“But I sleep at night.” Said the turtle, yawning as he did so.

“Take it from me, holes are the way to go.” The rabbit had finished one chunk of cactus, and hopped away into the night. The turtle stretched his head around, trying to take a bite of the other bit of cactus, but it was too far for him to reach. He rolled around on his side for awhile, stretching and snapping at the cactus, until he finally broke it loose and chewed on it. He nodded off as the night wore on, and fell asleep with his head in the hole he had chewed in the cactus.

***

The turtle woke up in his shell, with his face all sticky from the cactus. He stretched and yawned and looked around. The sun was coming up again, and he needed to find a way to stay cool. He spotted a hole in the distance, between two boulders. He crawled into the hole, and found himself in the dark. It was cool, but he could hardly turn around, much less see. He stepped on something squishy and heard a yelp.

“Git off me tail, ye daft tortoise!” A little voice called out from near his front left foot. He lifted his foot and set it down carefully a few inches to the right.

“I’m sorry, I can’t see in here.”

“Why would ye go in a hole, ye can’t see what’s in?” A scorpion crept right up his leg to his face. The turtle tried to back out of the hole quickly and managed to wedge himself in the hole entrance, tilted on his left side. He wriggled to try and get free, but to no avail, “Relax, laddie, I won’t sting ye. Ye aren’t anything I’d like to eat.” The scorpion crept nearer and surveyed the problem.

“I was just trying to find a way to keep cool… and the rabbit said to find a hole, and then I came in here and now I’m stuck.” The turtle flailed helplessly for a moment.

“There’s a coyote coming around this afternoon, he’ll be sure to know how ye can get free.”

“But won’t he eat me?”

“I cannae say he won’t, but he mayn’t be hungry, and if he’s nae, he’ll free ye in no time.” With that the scorpion disappeared back into the hole, leaving the turtle stuck in the dark, alone and uncomfortable. At least it was cool in the hole, but he didn’t think he wanted to be in one again for a long, long time.

The coyote arrived as the sun passed the middle of the sky, as far as the turtle could tell from the shadows. “I was in the mood for a toad in the hole, but I suppose a turtle will have to do.” The coyote howled with laughter and smacked the turtle hard on the shell with one paw. This popped the turtle free, who turned around and backed away into the hole again, “Don’t be afraid turtle friend, I have feasted today and am of a mood for companionship.” He rested a paw on the turtle’s shell and hauled him out of the hole.

“That’s good to hear, but the sun is so warm I cannot keep cool in this heat, that’s why I was in the hole.”

“Oh my silly shelled friend, a good hole is rare, it is much easier to make your own in the dirt.” The coyote demonstrated, digging furiously in the dirt until he had a small burrow dug out at the side of the boulder. He rolled around in it and curled up. “You should try it.”

The turtle pressed his foot against the ground as he saw the coyote do, and dragged it back. It made a dent in the surface, but the sand filled in the bottom quicker than he could dig. The coyote couldn’t help guffawing at this sight, and rolled out of his hole.

“I see you’re not suited to this, but you can use my hole for now, friend turtle.” He padded away into the desert, “Just be careful not to get stuck!” His laughter faded away as he disappeared, and the turtle crawled into the hole and slept.

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