Wednesday, June 13

The Return

Wordsmiths Unlimited is back. Please visit and contribute. You never know what wonderful thing might jump out of your head until you try. Our first assignment isn't due until June 30, but I just had to get this one out of the way so I can concentrate on my next piece(s).

I found this one quite difficult. I don't like the result, although I would like to explore the theme further at some point. (I tried and rejected half a dozen titles. When I was finished I realized that "The Return" could also apply to Wordsmiths. Weird.) After too much tinkering it's best to put it down. Time either brings new ideas, or allows you to put it down in the veterinary sense.

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.

The Return

“Look, Mom! They’re hatching!” Manuel tugged at her grip.

“Hush, Manny. Stay close. Don’t interfere.”


“Remember what Abuelo says. We can’t help.”

Teresa looked down at the eager little boy clutching her hand, so much like Abuelo, her father. Both of them had the same childlike joy of wild places and wild creatures. She was between the two of them, taught by the elder, teaching the younger.

In her own youth, she had begged Papa to take her on his scheduled excursions to monitor the sea turtles. On successive nights they would sit in silence under a gravid yellow moon as female turtles emerged from the surf. They watched the clumsy mothers heave their tired bodies beyond the tide line. Limbs used for swimming were employed in moving sand against unfamiliar gravity. With grunts and eyes dull from arduous labor the females deposited eggs in shallow pits and gently covered them, their maternal duty done. Papa told her that in the ocean they were friendly and graceful. She tried to imagine them under water, free and happy, as she watched them lumber back to the sea.

“Look, Teresa.” Papa whispered. “Look carefully. This is where the beach of the turtles meets the land of our people. We are their brothers and sisters.” Papa said many others had worked hard to make Playa de las Tortugas a refuge, a place where hotels and nightclubs were forbidden. Because of him, she and everyone who visited could witness the return of the sea turtles answering their ancestral call.

In the days following she felt she would burst from waiting. She pestered Papa with questions of how and when. She would ask “Today?” and he would reply “Perhaps.” Weeks after the nesting, on a summer day of wide skies and glistening sands, she and Papa ambled beneath the tropical sun. Waves had long since erased the zig-zag trails of the nesting mothers. Teresa squeezed Papa’s hand, full of wonder and anticipation.

“Are they going to hatch?” she asked Papa.

Si. Stay still. Let them be.”

Teresa obeyed. By dozens, then hundreds, turtle hatchlings tottered toward the ocean. She watched one wriggle from the sand and pause blinking against the new sun. After a brief rest it wobbled with alternating sweeps of its flippers toward the surf. Before it could reach home, a gull snatched it from the sand and swallowed it whole. The bird’s meal was quick and without mercy.


“No, pequeña. It is the way of things.” Horrified, Teresa cried and hated her father.

Now, looking out on the brilliant deep blue, she thought of Papa’s gentle hand. She held Manny’s tiny fingers. A piece of her son was about to be lost to her, a piece of her lost to him. Abuelo would take possession of both.

“Go, little turtles!” Manuel squealed. She hoped he would not hate her for too long. She hoped he would return, like the turtles, to Playa de las Tortugas.


Anonymous said...

For the difficulty you had with it, I think it turned out quite well.

You write with an extraordinary depth and attention to detail

Cravey said...

I love this.
I love the descriptors "heave their tired bodies" "unfamiliar gravity" "cried and hated her father"

I love this.


tiff said...

In 500 words......and you don't like it. Hmph.

One suggestion (and it's only because I feel compelled to offer one as part of the WSU exercise) is that the transition from past to present at the end of the story isn't as well demarcated as it might be to help dunces like me track where in time the story is. Might I suggest changing "teresa cried" to Teresa HAD cried" in order to further cement the flashback as history?

Othewise, I still have a hard time believing this was only 500 words. Densesly packed with meaning and tale they are. Not you usual cup of tea, either....what made you write THIS story instead of some other one?

Anonymous said...

This was really beautiful. I am glad I have a strict rule against reading other folk's stuff until I have written my own. I got to the seagull part and chuckled... just because that's where I went with it.

Anyway... I know how you like the constructive criticism so I will say...

I am unclear as to whether Abuelo is alive and not there, or dead. I think dead. Just not sure. Well, no, ok, read it again... definitely dead.

Really great stuff. I found the description of the mother turtles especially captivating.

Biff Spiffy said...

Good stuff, far richer on human and veterinary levels than anything I could come up with.

I too like the way you handled a child coming to grips with the realities of life, in the hope and seeming tragedy. Stumbled on the flashback transition, but as usual, a 2nd read cleared it up.