I took my first breath under the glow of a full moon. It had taken us three full days of digging to reach the surface. Distracted by the rustling palms and twinkling stars, nine of us noticed Gia as she silently dragged herself towards the lapping waves. That was until her screams cut through the calm silence. A winged gull swooped, plucking her from the sand and carrying her from sight. What chance did a little turtle stand against such a beast? what chance did any of us stand? For a moment, we all huddled in our mound, frozen in shock before the panic set in.
Our fins left ribbon-like trails in the sand as every one of us began the treacherous journey home. Some glanced over their shells, hoping to see an attack coming. Others propelled themselves forward with steely determination, never taking their eyes off their goal.
Screeches and cries change the once calm beach into a battleground as my sisters were gouged and devoured around me. The ground exploded to my right. A gull flapped wildly, showering me in a hail of sand. Sharp panicked breaths choked me. The bird flailed, desperately searching for its missed target. My world began to spin. The stars melted into the black sky and the guiding moonlight faded.
“Shoo bird, shoo.”
A breeze from flapping wings dusted the sand from my shell. disgruntled squawks at a meal stolen from within reach faded as I was scooped up on a bed of sand.
“It’s ok. I got you.”
The cool water lapping at my face snapped my brain from its slumber. As though driven by some invisible force, my fins pushed rhythmically at the water, powering me safely into the ocean.
Time transformed the stories of a human girl saving hatchlings into legends. Legends few of us still believed to be true. Over a decade later, carrying a belly swollen with eggs, I dragged my shell up that same beach. Memories of my sister’s short lives flooded my eyes. I wondered how many of my babies would make it back to the water. I approached the patch of sand where I first glimpsed the world. Once surrounded by palms and wild brush, the gentle rustling was now overtaken by music and chatter. The moon’s soft glow overtaken by fluorescent bulbs and flashing lights. Humans: Has the world ever seen a more invasive species? With one last glance back at my precious mound, I shuffled back down the beach.
“Don’t worry, mamma. I’ll look after them.”
It was the same voice that carried me to safety years earlier. At the edge of the beach stood a smiling woman with a swollen belly of her own. My babies stood a chance, and I would spend the rest of my years telling her story, because, believe it or not, not all humans are bad.
By Stacey Potter