We usually run on treadmills in the little complex gym in the mornings. I like running outside, except for the part where Nous and I don't actually go the same speed, so I run too fast and he runs too slow and no one's happy. I suspect that's how I got the ITB injuries in the first place, trying to be Nous (which is silly. He's built like an Akhal-Tekh. I am more like a Norwegian Fjord). So we run indoors, except when there are other residents running in the ungodly hours before 7AM, which is when we get there. This almost never happens, especially in finals week, but this week, it did. And so we ran outside, in the park behind our complex. It's relatively large, with a couple of big ponds (that probably aspire to be called lakes, but no). There are turtles in the ponds, the red-eared ones you get in pet stores that people end up dumping in places exactly like this park. (There are also bullfrogs, at least two, but they do not figure into this story except as croaking backdrop. There are also herons, egrets, geese, ducks, coyotes, and the ubiquitous bunnies. Also, rats.)
So when Nous said, "Turtle!" I turned around and ran back.
When I was little, I'd've wanted to take the turtle home and keep him. My mother would have objected. I did get a box turtle that way once, for about a week. But my mom's got some prejudices against the red-eared turtles. Something about disease? I don't know. I was a little kid who loved animals and had allergies to fur, so all things without fur were fair game. I had a pet toad for a year as a kid (her name was Josephine). I had newts. I had a lizard. I was promised a snake when I turned 10 but my mother reneged on that. Anyway: me and the cold-blooded creatures, long history, much love. Moving on.
I picked the turtle up, of course. He was a big one, maybe 10, 11 inches in diameter. Covered with sand. He'd walked a hella long way. Like, 50 yards or so. Uphill. Through the brush. Past the coyote den. He might not have wanted to go back to the pond, but you know what? I didn't ask. Whatever his terrapinnish ambitions, uphill from there only leads to a parking lot, apartments, nothing good for turtles.
So we went back down to the pond with him. I tilted him up once, to get a look at his face. He opened his mouth in a silent I will so bite you promise. Fair enough, Turtle. Fair enough. I set him down on the edge of the pond, and he waited exactly long enough for us to back up two feet before he launched into the lake. Turtles are fast, in short bursts. He was gone in a blink. Then bubbles. Then a wet shell, dragging onto the rock in the middle of the pond.
I guess we've proved I'm not a replicant.
*If you don't get it, you're missing a great movie