“Racing Turtles” By: Sydney Miller

Racing Turtles

Based on ‘The Turtle’ by Mary Oliver

The old, silvery-haired woman eased herself down on the uncomfortable blue bleachers. She pulled her dark green sweater around her and scanned the crowd of girls standing near the start line.

Most of them were talking to each other, but one girl stood apart from the group. The old woman watched the girl jump up and down, remembering the number of times she had done the same exact thing before racing her brothers on their farm, when she was the girl’s age.

A whistle blew, and all the girls stood on the freshly-painted white line, crouching near the black cement. The old woman saw the young girl’s eyes, luminous, ready for the race. It was the same look that little children had before they opened their birthday presents.

The whistle blew again, and all the girls started sprinting – except for one. The old woman watch the girl with the gleaming eyes start to run at a steady pace, her dark pigtails bouncing every time she moved her feet.

Soon, the other girls became worn out from sprinting, and they started to slow down. Not the dark-haired girl, though – she continued at the same speed, moving closer and closer to the front of the group.

But then, her ungainly feet stumbled and she tripped over them, falling down onto the searing black track. The old woman gasped, looking in worry at the dark-haired girl. But the girl simply hopped back up and continued running in the same slow and steady pace that she had run before, and the same steady pace that the old woman ran when she was a young girl, on the farm.

The rest of the girls started panting, gasping, but the dark-haired girl with the shining eyes jogged past the sweating girl who was in the lead. The old woman smiled as she saw the young girl’s triumphant grin, the grin of a girl who knew she was going to win.

Suddenly, the girl that the dark-haired girl had passed sped up, overtaking her. The dark-haired girl scowled, pushing her legs to go faster, to do what she was born to do – to win.

The old woman’s eyes focused on the dark-haired girl, and she saw herself back on the farm, racing her brothers. She was in the lead, but her eldest brother overtook her. She sprinted up the high hill, her legs working on their own beneath her.

            The young girl, her legs working on their own, raced down the dark track, drawn to the finish line like a bee to honey. She overtook the other girl, whizzing past the finish line.

At the same time, the girl streaked past her brother and glided to the finish line, grinning.

“Nice job, little Turtle,” her brother said, “I guess you were saving up your energy to overtake me at the end.”

            The old woman looked at the dark-haired girl, who was walking past the bleachers with her family.

“Nice job, little Turtle,” the dark-haired girl’s father said to her.

“I was saving up my energy so I could sprint at the end,” the girl told her father, her eyes still gleaming.

The old woman watched the young girl and her family walk away, then slowly eased herself up from the uncomfortable bleachers and trudged off, dragging her feet and wishing that she could run again, just like the dark-haired girl did.