His name was Timothy and he was the largest turtle in the turtle pond at the Petcha Can’t Pick Just One pet shop.
He wasn’t anything special, just a simple box turtle picked out of one of the local ponds, yet he had lived his entire life swimming around the same 2×2 square of water, playing as much as he could with the few floating pieces of wood in the stark container.
His life was easy, but he couldn’t help but imagine that there must be more out there, something different, something new, something amazing.
Everyday at 9am, the store owner, Liz, would arrive at the store, which Timothy would be aware of because of how it would suddenly get very bright just outside of his open enclosure. By 9:30 at the very latest, she would appear and throw a few pieces of lettuce into his water, which he would greedily latch onto and eat slowly until approximately 10:15, which was generally when the first customer would arrive.
Mr. Beckett. He loved coming in daily to get fresh crickets for his bearded dragon. Timothy guessed it was more because he held feelings for Liz, but he didn’t say anything. Not that he could. Or would.
Even having Liz stop by to give him food, like she had done twice a day every day for the last 3 years, he just couldn’t get used to. He knew she meant him no harm, but every time he saw her head appear just within view, he involuntarily slipped back into his shell.
It embarrassed Timothy that he couldn’t seem to get over this reflex to hide, even from those he knew cared greatly for him.
Of course, it would probably not be nearly as bad if it weren’t for the fact that by noon every day he would have already had at least 3 pairs of tiny hands reaching at him and trying to pry him from his comfortable spot sunning under the light coming in from his window.
The Baxter triplets. Their mother came in at the same time everyday. Mrs. Baxter knew Liz since high school, and ever since she found out that Liz opened her store, Mrs. Baxter felt it was the perfect opportunity to get her kids out and expand their minds.
For Timothy, it meant absolutely heart-stopping terror as those three girls groped him and laughed at how he retracted into his shell at every touch, followed by them shaking him violently in order to coax him back out of his safety net.
Life as a turtle was never easy, but he dreamed of the world he was told about by the turtle who used to be in this little pond with him, Gary. Gary was a very old box turtle who had been brought in from the very same lake that Timothy had come from. However, he had already lived in the lake for a couple of years and had found memories of lounging on sticks by the lakeside, lazily waiting for food to drift by, and sleeping in the comfortable night air.
Of course, Timothy loved Liz and his life at Petcha. And he really couldn’t imagine leaving the safety of the retail establishment that he’d always known. Besides, who would take care of Tabitha, the store cat who would stop by at take a few swipes at the fish that swam around his enclosure. Speaking of which, what would the fish do without him here to keep the Baxter triplets from fishing them out? He served as such a great distraction from the smaller swimmers that they were barely even noticed. If he was gone, certainly those fish would bear the brunt of his absence.
Besides, it’s scary out there. Away from his safe home. And cold.
He decided he liked his home after all.