A series of short stories woven together by the theme of the turtle and the rabbit, and their search for love.
She pedaled as fast as she could, even jumping curbs as she maneuvered deftly through the back roads. Her hands squeezed the brakes on her handlebars as she swerved to avoid hitting him. He was going nearly as fast as she was on his skateboard.
“Hey, watch it!” she yelled at the back of his head as he kicked and pushed off and away, unperturbed by her.
“Stupid boys,” she mumbled before picking her pace back up.
She reached the store, hopped off her bike in one smooth swoop, and threw her lock around her bike and the lamppost. She skipped into the store, the smells of fur and poop wafting over her. It was a smell she adored—and couldn’t wait to finally get her first pet. She had worked odd jobs for her parents and neighbors for two months in order to save up the money for this. She picked up her pace and headed straight for the aisle with the huge red MAMMALS sign hanging over it. She walked straight up to the cage she had become familiar with over the past three months. She breathed a sigh of relief: her bunny was still there! She looked around slyly, reached into her pocket, and pulled out a baby carrot. She slipped the carrot into the cage where her rabbit inched over to her, first sniffing her fingers, then quickly opening its mouth to nibble on the carrot.
“Hi, Bugs. I’m here to finally take you home,” she whispered to the white and brown-spotted rabbit she had already named. She looked up, through the cages, where she could see through to the other side of the store—the side with the big blue sign REPTILES hanging over it. She recognized him, the stupid boy on the skateboard, standing with his face pressed against the glass. He looked funny, the features of his face distorted as it appeared through the water in the tank. He was watching the swimming sea turtles, one in particular it seemed, as intently as she’d ever seen a boy be. His brown eyes were even larger through the magnification of the tank, and just then, his eyes shifted and he saw her watching him. She hopped out of his line of sight, close to the hamster cages and held her breath. He was cute, for a stupid boy, she thought to herself. She peeked back around to see if he was still there, when he appeared right behind her, startling her half to death.
“First you try to run me over, and now you’re spying on me?” he stated.
Had she been any other girl, she would have been speechless, caught off guard. But she was no average nine-year-old.
“Well, I believe I got here first, seeing that I was faster on my bike, so it looks like you’re following me!” she said folding her arms and cocking her head to the side.
“What are you getting?” he asked, completely changing the subject.
“A bunny …” she replied.
“Bunnies are for girls,” he said as if an insult.
“Well in case you didn’t notice, that’s what I am.” She responded sarcastically.
“I couldn’t tell, the way you rode that bike.” He retorted.
“Excuse me if I’m athletic,” she boasted.
He smiled, showing off his two front teeth, which, to her, looked like big rabbit teeth.
“I’m getting a sea turtle,” he said switching gears again. Boys just couldn’t stay focused, could they, she thought. “I love amphibians. I have three frogs, too.”
“Turtles aren’t amphibians.” she corrected blatantly.
“Whatever.” He dismissed. “Come see them,” he added, unexpectedly grabbing her hand and pulling her to the reptile aisle.
They stood, both their faces pressed up against the glass this time, their eyes bug-eyed and wide watching the turtles swim around the tank. After a few moments of silence, he asked her which he should pick. She concentrated, studying each turtle carefully.
She lifted her index finger to the glass and pointed to one, who stayed separated from the pack. “That one,” she said emphatically.
“What shall I name him?” he asked, already easily convinced.
She shrugged. “I dunno …” She looked up and saw a family standing in front of the rabbit cages. “Oh no!” she cried out and raced towards the cages.
Five minutes later, as the store clerk prepared her rabbit in its case for transport, he showed up beside her.
“What did you name it?” he asked her, startling her once more.
“Sheesh, don’t you know how not to sneak up on someone,” she said, this time smiling.
“I got a name for mine,” he said ignoring her comment, again.
“What is it?”
“Rabbit.” His face lit up as he showed his buck bunny teeth.
“That’s silly.” She laughed.
“You should name yours Turtle,” he suggested.
“That’s dumb!” she laughed harder. “His name is Bugs.”
“Bugs is so unoriginal,” he said dryly.
“You think so?”
“Yes. It should be Turtle and Rabbit. Makes sense to me,” he explained.
“Yeah, but you’re a boy.” She giggled nervously now for the first time.
“Wanna ride back together?” he said, skilled in the ways of evasive conversation.
“Why not,” she said, following his lead.
He threw his skateboard down, looked back once as if to urge her to follow him, and cruised out the entrance.
She looked down at the bunny, nibbling at some unknown thing in its mouth.
“Turtle, huh?” she whispered to the rabbit. “Don’t tell anyone, but I kinda like it. Turtle it is,” she said, then skipped out to the front of the store, where he was waiting impatiently for her.
Part 1 | Part 2 | (Part 3)