Story Contest 2019 #1 - Highly Commended Stories »

Highly Commended Story - The Turtle and the Teen

“The Turtle and the Teen” by Adrian Chan, John G Diefenbaker Elementary School, Canada, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.

Adrian Chan is a resourceful, kind, and helpful 5th grader who loves to read fantasy books. He goes to Diefenbaker Elementary School and is always excited to start a new school day. He loves nature, English, and Math. Some of his favourite hobbies include typing fiction articles, participating in sports, and playing chess.

The Turtle and the Teen

A baby green sea turtle was drifting carelessly in the aquamarine waters. Lush green trees stood out on a small, isolated island. The turtle took it all in with her wide dark eyes and breathed a sigh of happiness. She saw that the sun was almost at its highest, indicating lunchtime. Suddenly, she spotted something from the corner of her eye. Floating in the waters near her was a jellyfish-like object.

The turtle swam closer to it. On closer inspection, the object didn’t have as many tentacles as a normal jellyfish, but probably made for a scrumptious meal nonetheless. She realized to her delight that there were actually three jelly-like objects tangled up together. She dove right into the jellyfish and immediately sensed something was wrong. The texture of this jellyfish was way rougher than usual. This wasn’t a jellyfish at all! However, as she tried to untangle herself, she found herself trapped by the jelly-shaped objects. She struggled again in vain, but the objects bound her tight, as if the turtle were tied with rope. She tried to swim up to take a breath but found that she couldn’t. She knew that if help didn’t come soon, she would drown and die.

Harry listened indifferently as the guide continued talking about plastic. He sighed in his mind not only because would he be much rather be playing video games back home, but also because the guide was exaggerating the impact of plastic on the environment. “Plastic bags obviously can’t kill turtles since they’re smart. Turtles could easily tell the difference between plastic bags and a jellyfish,” Harry thought to himself disinterestedly. Finally, after what seemed like a millennium, the guide announced, “Now, we will go snorkeling. Remember, clean up the ocean!” Harry muttered sarcastically under his breath, “Yeah, yeah.”

All negative thoughts were washed away by the cool water as Harry swam using his flippers. He kept up with his dad easily as the guide talked again. Harry could barely make out the words the guide said through the mask as “This is Alyona Island, home of many green sea turtles.” He could see a sea turtle in the distance eating its jellyfish while shielding its face from the tentacles with a flipper, which was probably immune to the poison the tentacles produced. Harry mused, “The turtle might be even smarter than the guide!” Then, he noticed something. It was something green with brown splotches and had white objects above it.

Harry squinted through his goggles and swam closer to get a better look. It was a baby sea turtle. The turtle was thrashing around with her flippers in an effort to get untangled. He also saw something he least expected to see - plastic bags wrapping the turtle like a gift in wrapping paper. Only this time, Harry could clearly see that the animal was suffocating. He had only seen blood in his video games, and for him, blood meant victory at the death of his opponent. Now, the thin trail of blood coming from the turtle carried real suffering. Harry felt an urge to help the innocent turtle.

The turtle was holding her breath for as long as she could. Half an hour had passed since she became trapped and the turtle knew that she was only inches away from the dark door of death.

The turtle’s dark green eyes were already glazed, but there was a faint glimmer of hope in her eyes. Pity flooded Harry at the sight of the almost-dead creature. He instantly started unwrapping the plastic bags from the turtle. The turtle’s thrashing had made the plastic bags trap the turtle more. However, Harry managed to unwind the bags from the turtle’s body. He saw that there was a faint scar on the turtle’s neck where the plastic bag must have cut her, but since it did not look very serious, he let the turtle go. The turtle was barely breathing as it kicked its flippers uselessly at the water. However, just when he was about to bring the turtle back to the boat, it dived headfirst out of his hands. Its rough shell brushed against his palm and its deep black eyes met his. As it started swimming away, it waved a flipper at him in a gesture of thanks and farewell. Harry waved at her just as the turtle’s silhouette disappeared. He had never touched a turtle before, despite all the snorkeling experience he had. When the turtle touched him, a new understanding blossomed in his head. Life was more precious than the most valuable gemstone, and plastic was taking life away like a thief. He vowed that he would be the cop and “catch” the crook.

July, 4 years later

With one final heave, the green sea turtle’s flippers touched the rough sand. The sun beat down on her as she began the grueling journey across the sand to lay her eggs. As she did so, she saw a human, perambulating around the edge of the beach. Something about him looked familiar, though she didn’t know why.

Harry walked slowly along the edge of Tergro Beach as a part of the Ocean Cleanup Project. He felt the refreshing water, the warm sun on his skin and the numerous plastics littering the beach. He squinted and saw hundreds of dots on the far end of it. Then, something green moved a few meters in front of him. A green sea turtle was dragging herself through the beach. Harry suddenly realized that the other dots were also sea turtles. This one looked like most sea turtles, but there was a small scar on her neck that was barely visible. A memory struck him of three plastic bags holding a turtle. This turtle was why he was on this very beach right now. This turtle was why he understood the danger of plastic. They stood silently regarding each other for a long time as he thought of how the turtle had affected how he perceived the world. He smiled. Harry didn’t know if he imagined it, but the turtle seemed to smile back at him.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
- Albert Einstein

Was this article useful? What should we do to improve your experience? Share your valued feedback and suggestions! Help us to serve you better. Donate Now!

« Back to Highly Commended Stories List