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Tori crushes turtles. She crushes box turtles and painted turtles, sliders and musk turtles. She secretly wishes she could go to the beach and step on baby sea turtles as they leave the nest. The only turtle Tori hasn’t crushed; the only one she wants to crush, lives in that lake. It waits at the bottom buried in the mud. Tori has never seen it but she knows its there... and she hates it.
I started this book about five years ago. After working on it for a week, I stopped myself. This was not my usual, whimsical story. Why was I writing this?
A year later, I read over what little I had. I liked what I had written and decided to pick it up again. After another week, I had the same experience. This went on for several years.
Finally last year, I was having a discussion about National Write a Novel in a Month with a student. She encouraged me to take part in NaNoWriMo again as I had in the past. I told her I couldn't start something new since I still had stories I hadn't finished. She was persistent so I made a promise to finish Crushing Turtles. It then took another year before it was completed. Here we are.
Below, are short, excerpts from a few chapters in the story.
Nick likes Tori. He brings her turtles. Tori
likes Nick. He reminds her of her little brother.
Tori never crushes turtles in front of Nick.
“It would corrupt your soul,” She says.
Nick isn’t sure what a soul is or what
corrupt means, he just knows it sounds bad.
Tori is never hard to find. She’s at the lake.
Kids swim in the lake. They swim from the shore
out to the float. They dive off the board. Nick
wants to swim to the float and dive off the board.
It looks like fun. Nick is too small. He stands on
Tori doesn’t swim. She used to swim near
the shore with her little brother. He was too small
to swim to the float. Tori doesn’t swim anymore.
She stands on the dock.
The older boy’s rod bends. He reels in his
line and pulls up a sunfish. It flops around on the
dock. The older boy takes a knife from his tackle
box. He steps on the fish to hold it still and cuts
off its head.
“Stupid sunny.” Says the boy. He flicks the
knife sending the two pieces of fish into the lake.
Nick watches the fish head sink.
Nick kicks the sheet off his feet and
uncovers his toes. He thinks about fish heads. He
wonders if cutting a fish in half in front of him
corrupted his soul. But he doesn’t know what
“What’s a soul?” asks Nick.
“It’s the part of you that doesn’t die.” says
Nick looks at his toes and wonders if one of
them is his soul.
“Inside you. Like, inside your heart.”