Early Saturday morning Mrs. Green got out of bed just as the sun was coming up. She made herself a cup of mocha and looked outside the window. It was chilly but Mrs. Green felt the excitement of spring. She dressed warmly and let Ampersand outside. She found herself mesmerized by the freshly cut grass Mr. Green had mowed yesterday. He was artistic about it and mowed circles around the trees and swirly lines up and down the long lot to the stream and the climbing tree. The grass was thick and a very deep green this year.
Ampersand began to bark and run around a small stump not far from the porch. Mrs. Green looked to see what he was barking at. Then she saw it. There he was, sitting on a stump waiting expectantly for his friends, with his neck out, shining eyes and a smile on his face. Bartholomew the box turtle was looking around as if he had been on a long journey and was reacquainting himself with his surroundings. He did not retract into his shell when Ampersand barked at him. He smiled back at Ampersand and seemed to sense the happy bark of a friend.
Mrs. Green felt so excited she forgot her coat and her shoes! She raced out the door and ran to the backyard. She bent down and gently touched the small crack in Bartholomew’s shell. Most of it had healed over many years ago but she could still trace her finger over the line it had left.
“We have been waiting for you my friend.” Mrs. Green said as she bent down to look Bartholomew in the eye.
Bartholomew stretched out his neck. He seemed to have a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye all of the time. Bartholomew was no ordinary box turtle. Bartholomew and Mrs. Green were very old friends.
Years ago when Mrs. Green was a young girl, her family moved into a new house. It was a cold winter that year. When spring came she got a letter in the mail. It was from the boy who used to live in her house. It read,
My name is Timmy and I used to live in the house you live in now. Last summer I found a box turtle and put him in the window well. His shell had a crack in it and I thought he would be safer there. He should be digging out of hibernation soon. Would you check on him? His name is Bartholomew.
PS He likes strawberries.
Mrs. Green checked everyday in the window well that spring. Her family and friends helped check. They waited and wondered if Bartholomew had gotten out of the window well, or worse. Finally on a chilly spring day, very much like today, Mrs. Green found Bartholomew.
He was covered in dirt and trying to climb up the side of the window well. Mrs. Green picked him up, brushed him off, put him in the grass and took a good look at him.Bartholomew might have gone through his entire life without anyone noticing how special he was. Mrs. Green and Timmy knew he was special. She told him about Timmy and the letter. Bartholomew looked up at her with shining and expectant eyes and smiled at her, in that way only Bartholomew could. She told him he was handsome, fast and wise. She gave him some water and a strawberry.
She wanted to set him free. The crack in his shell did not seem so bad and he was very fast. Mrs. Green was sure he would be happier if he was able to stretch his legs and wander around freely. She watched him as he quickly walked off into the garden and thought how happy he seemed.
Much to her surprise, the next morning she found Bartholomew sitting near the front steps. Mrs. Green fed Bartholomew a strawberry right out of her hand, put him back near the vegetable garden and told him goodbye again. The next day he was by the front porch again. This went on for sometime.
Bartholomew did eventually feel free and comfortable enough to move around the yard, but he was never far away and always easily found when a strawberry was produced. Bartholomew had many adventures and was a good friend to Mrs. Green and a lot of other people. He was special all along, Mrs. Green just happened to be the one to notice it.
Today Mrs. Green was just as happy to see Bartholomew as she was the first day she saw him. She sat down in the cold wet grass next to her friend. Ampersand sat next to her. Mr. Green brought out a strawberry and Bartholomew ate it right out of Mrs. Green’s hand. Box turtles can live up to 100 years. Mrs. Green hoped Bartholomew would exceed his life expectancy, just as he exceeded every other expectation anyone ever had of a shiny eyed, smiling, box turtle with a crack in his shell.
Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015
Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.