Entering a wide open and pitch-black sky, Charles left and locked the door behind him. His pace was slow as he walked down the driveway.
Out for his usual evening stroll, Charles smiled and waved at his neighbors. He mosied along, letting his thoughts drift until he spotted something moving off the shore of the community pond. He approached to get a better look and discovered a group of baby turtles emerging from the water.
They all looked up at him with their tiny black eyes and then slowly began turning around. A high-pitched bark erupted from behind Charles, so he looked over his shoulder and saw a dog running towards them.
He jumped up and scooped the turtles into his shirt. They cried out in pain while he laughed as they tucked their heads into their shells. â€œI just saved your lives, little guys.â€ His proud eyes crossed over the frightened testudines like they were trophies.
â€œI have to Instagram this when I get home,â€ Charles said to no one in particular.
In record time, he had run home and laid the turtles out in his backyard. â€œAre you guys nice?â€
Unphased by his words, they remained hidden. â€œWanna be my friends?â€
One of the turtles popped its head out and started in the opposite direction. One after the other, they all emerged from their shells and slowly started following behind him.
â€œI canâ€™t let you go back to the lake. Itâ€™s dangerous.â€
â€œOkay,â€ He explained as he picked up the turtles and put them back into his shirt. â€œLetâ€™s take you inside and find a better home.â€
They softly fell into his bathtub, where they scrambled up the porcelain wall only to fall onto their backs. Pulling this and that out of his closet, he went on the hunt for different supplies. It wasnâ€™t long before he had their new home stocked with lettuce and twigs. One by one, he took them over to their aquarium.
Once they sniffed the lettuce, it was over. Their little legs were squirming around before they could even touch the ground. As a group, they destroyed the lettuce, leaving only the twigs and dirt as leftovers. When they were done, they looked up at Charles for more. He couldnâ€™t help himself after looking into their glistening black eyes. Luckily, some leftover apples were in the fridge, so he decided to cut them up and set them into the enclosure.
Then a loud bang jolted the entire building; Ashley was home. Despite their differences, Ashley and Charles had been together almost ten years. â€œCharles!â€ She shouted from the other room. â€œWhy does it smell like fish in here?â€
Her expression was blank as she laid her eyes on the terrarium.
â€œSorry about that,â€ Charles acknowledged, waving his hands in front of the turtles. â€œI will light a candle and give these guys a little bath.â€
â€œAre those?â€ Ashleyâ€™s voice had become a whisper, â€œturtles?â€
â€œOh yeah, I saved them from that Pitt the Robinsonâ€™s own.â€
A shrill piercing scream hit Charles like lightning, â€œNo, Please No.â€ Ashley took off on her heels and fled towards their bedroom. â€œNo, please not again!â€ She cried out.
His arms wrapped around her, â€œwhat is going on?â€ He could feel her entire body shaking. â€œClose the door.â€ She ordered.
Charles closed the door while Ashley grabbed a towel and threw it in between the gap near the floorboards. â€œIn case they try to crawl under.â€ She exclaimed in Charlesâ€™s face.
â€œBabe, are you scared of the turtles?â€
â€œYES, I AM,â€ emphasizing the I as she spoke.
â€œI promise they arenâ€™t going to hurt you.â€
â€œNo, you donâ€™t understand. When I was young, a turtle attacked me.â€
He took her hands in his, â€œthis isnâ€™t that turtle, Ashley.â€
â€œI think I know what you need.â€
Ashley shook her head, â€œnot if you think it has anything to do with going over there and touching those turtles.â€ Her entire body shivered as she said the seven-letter word. Somehow his silence convinced her, though, because her following words were, â€œokay, Iâ€™ll try it.â€
They tiptoed to the kitchen, where she began to shake again, â€œI donâ€™t know if I can do this.â€
With a soft touch, he pushed her forward until she was right in front of the terrarium.
â€œBabe, stop. I canâ€™t do this.â€
â€œItâ€™s okay, just open your eyes,â€ Charles guided her.
â€œNO Way, this is all too much!â€ She stepped backward onto Charlesâ€™s foot. â€œListen, you have to choose. The turtles or me?â€
â€œAshley, what are you talking about?â€ His voice began to plead.
â€œCHOOSE NOW.â€ She started backing away from the turtles and towards the door.
â€œDarling, stop think about what youâ€™re doing.â€
â€œNo, you stop and think!â€ She screamed.
â€œBabe, please donâ€™t do this.â€
Then she was gone, and Charles was forced to make one of the most challenging choices of his entire life. He had to choose between the woman he loved and the turtles he loved. Unfortunately, youâ€™ll never get to know what decision he made.