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The Little Turtle
An intact turtle egg lay near a brook. It was the only egg that had not hatched amidst a nest of hatched eggshells. A slight noise sounded from a blade of grass, jolting a turtle within the egg awake. He tried to stretch his limbs, but found himself stuck inside his sealed egg.
“What is this shell,” he thought to himself, “I don’t want stay in here forever.”
Eventually his hunger and desire to escape pushed the little turtle to beat his fists against the egg, and a hairline crack opened. First a pea green claw emerged, then a tiny face looking curious and timid, and finally the little turtle pulled his entire body out of the eggshell.
He was the last, and the smallest, turtle hatching that day. During his long sleep, his brothers and sisters had already learned how to crawl. The little turtle was just a beginner, and kept losing his balance while he learned to crawl.
The little turtle’s brothers and sisters mocked his clumsy crawling with cruel words. The little turtle blushed. He wanted to refute their barbs, but he didn’t say anything. No one wanted to play with him, and even his mother regarded him as a disgrace to the family. The little turtle was depressed and ashamed, and as time passed he became more introverted and talked less and less. He played alone, ate alone, and slept alone. The only time that he felt truly happy was when he sat on a boulder on a nearby hilltop at dawn, and gazed into the distance. One morning he climbed up to the boulder, and watched as the sun rose above the horizon, casting an orange glow over the mountains. A beautiful flock of snow white seagulls flew in a straight line across the sky.
“What if I can fly,” the little turtle thought to himself. “If I can fly, they won’t laugh at me anymore. I will fly wherever I want to go faster than anyone else in the world,” he muttered out loud, “maybe I can find someone to teach me.” That was when the little turtle decided to take his fate into his own hands.
The next morning he departed at the dawn, heading due south. He soon came across a river where a white goose was combing her hair.
“Hi, can you please teach me how to fly?” the little turtle asked with excitement.
“Are you kidding me? I can’t fly,” the goose replied.
The turtle was shocked, and exclaimed, “But you look exactly like the seagull!”
The goose didn’t even cast a glance at him, and kept combing her hair.
“Please, I’ll do anything for you if you teach me,” the turtle implored.
“Little turtle, I have already told you once that I cannot fly. Go and find the Eagle,” said the goose, gesturing towards a nearby mountaintop. “He lives atop this mountain. You must climb it to find him.”
The little turtle thanked her, and started out for the Eagle’s home with some apprehension. Climbing was not one of his talents. He slipped as he tried to scale a large rock, and flailed about as he tried to regain his balance. A monkey hanging in a tree above him took notice of his plight.
“What are you doing here, little turtle?” the monkey asked, stretching his body out as he dangled from the tree by his tail.
“I’m climbing to the mountain’s top to find the Eagle,” the little turtle replied, still trying to steady himself on the uncertain, rocky ground. “The Eagle can teach me how to fly,” he continued.
“A turtle wants to learn how to fly? That’s the funniest joke I’ve ever heard!” the monkey said, laughing mightily. The monkey’s voice reverberated across the mountain as he cried, “Don’t you know that only birds, the animals with wings, can fly? ”
“I know what birds are, but no one told me I can’t fly,” the turtle muttered.
“Of course nobody told you that, because everybody already knows that!” the cruel monkey cried.
The little turtle ignored his words and kept crawling. He couldn’t remember how long he he climbed for, but he finally saw the giant black shadow of an eagle rise above him.
“Eagle, Eagle, can you teach me how to fly?” The little turtle cried, elated to have finally reached the Eagle.
“Move away,” intoned the Eagle, in a deep, wise voice, “you do not belong in the sky.”
“Please, at least give me a try!” The turtle pleaded.
“No…” said that Eagle slowly.
“I’ve climbed all the way to the top of this mountain, even though I am but a poor weak turtle!” cried the turtle. “All I want is to learn to fly!”
The Eagle felt a tug on his heartstrings as he looked at the brave little turtle. He calmly said, “Okay, I will take you to the sky just this one time.” The Eagle caught the turtle in his claws and soared into the air. The turtle had never felt such freedom and happiness before. He saw the mountain, the river, the prairie, his home, and the whole world unspooling below him. He touched the pure white clouds surrounding him like a sweet sugar frosting, and felt the wind kissing his face. He felt intoxicated with the weightlessness and merriment of flying.
“Let me go, let me go!” the turtle cried, I think I’ve learned how to fly!”
The Eagle hesitated for a moment, and then released the turtle from his grasp. On the ground below, the little turtle’s family looked up in shock to see him floating toward the ground with ease.
He landed by the brook with aplomb, and the other turtles rushed over to him in excitement. He only smiled as they cheered him on, realizing he had become the first turtle who learned out to fly.