Grandfather Turtle was old as the hills. The young turtles used to giggle and say that Grandfather Turtle was around when the hills were made. No one knew for sure, but the slope of his shell was higher than the oldest hills, so perhaps it was true.
He was a large, green turtle and his shell was thick and bore many scars. Sometimes, if asked when he was in a particular humor, he would chortle to himself and regale younger and more foolhardy tortoises with tales of great journeys and grand adventures.
He would lean back and thrust his head in and out of his shell a few times as though his memory needed the movement to get it going again. Then he would cough and harrumph importantly a few times and begin, his wheezy voice growing stronger as he fell into the rhythm of the tale.
One day, one of the more daring turtles (who had not yet grown old enough or done anything important enough to receive his Name) thought to ask Grandfather Turtle about the biggest scar that ran across the very dome of his shell.
It was jagged and thick, and the other turtles in the Great Tribe would often wince, thinking of what sort of accident had befallen Grandfather Turtle. This scar also belied his age and his stubbornness, for wounds that deep do not heal quickly nor easily. But time, it would seem, had healed his wounds and left only that great scar as testament to what he had seen.
Time cannot tell tales, however–those things are left to those who bear the mark of time, and so Grandfather Turtle found himself settling back on his claws and telling this brash young turtle what exactly could cause such a mark.
“Love” said Grandfather Turtle simply. “Love is what brought this scar to me, or perhaps I to it. We never know how such things quite pan out”.
He paused and stretched his front claws out, digging them in the sand. He tilted his head slowly up towards where the sun streamed through the trees and smiled, his face wrinkling into a thousand spiderwebs. If stones could smile, they would smile the smile of Grandfather Turtle.
“I have seen things, my son. I have flown in the beaks of eagles and spent many fortunes in my life. I have met kings and swum with the poorest of poor. I have tasted the finest cuisines from the world’s greatest chefs and once escaped from becoming part of the main course. I have driven motorbikes and sailed to the edges of the world, climbed great snowy mountains and slept in the most barren of deserts, but it was only when I returned home did I realize what great sights I had seen, what great lessons I had learned—”
Once again he paused. This time his eyes were filled with sadness.
“But it was only after I learned of love and what it can do to young turtles did I learn that loss is often the hardest lesson to be learned. Yes….love…it often comes with a price”.
He made as if to say more, but we’ll never know what he was going to say because it was at that very moment that my mom ran him the fuck over.