Yesterday, was a heart-breaking day for me. Yesterday, was the day Shirley walked out of my life. And although it was not really my decision to let Shirley leave, I still feel so guilty that I was the involved in her departure. I feel empty without her, there is a huge void in our house.
Shirley came to us 10 years ago. She was little thing back then. So timid, so reserved. But proud. Her shell so brown, her lined markings on her feet so distinct and colorful. And those nails. Those long, luscious nails. She stayed in my youngest son’s room, in her tank, with her rocks which she clambered onto sun herself, and all the while admiring her own nails. I would feed her every night, little blocks of Brine Shrimp and Mysis Shrimp. Those were happy days indeed.
I remember the happy times with Shirley (cue the sad, sorrowful montage music) her swimming back and forth, her shell clicking against the walls of the aquarium, her fighting with that turtle in the reflection in the glass, the turtle that always hounded her at feeding time. The time she disemboweled every goldfish she had shared her tank with for years. The night after night, I said “Good Night Shirley” and turned her light off, and the mornings when I bound into my son’s room, to turn the light back on. Those days are no more.
I took her back to the pet store from which we purchased her 10 years ago. They have a huge turtle tank with other large Red-Sliders, with rocks and a multitude of places turtles might like to sun themselves. It was turtle heaven. The people at the pet store, in the reptile department said she looked healthy, and well-fed. They said I had really taken good care of her. But then they told me something which made me step back, I was so shocked. Shirley was not a female, she was actually a male. And I said “What, how can this be?!” This whole time we had thought Shirley was a girl, and really she was a boy. No wonder she glared at me so. The reptile people said “Oh yeah, you can tell by her long claws.” This whole time we had been calling her Shirley. The pet store people said they would continue to call her/him Shirley because it was a bad-ass name for a turtle and suited her/him.
This might explain why, when I watched Shirley swimming in his tank, he would come up to the glass, and quiver his fingernails at me. Almost as if he was trying to say – “Look at these nails dumb ass, these luscious nails, do these look like the nails of a girl?” But I never caught on, I never got the connection. He stopped doing that about 2 years ago – I guess he gave up and resigned himself to the fact that I would always call him Shirley.
Well, Shirley is gone now. I hope he will be happy in his new tank, with his new friends.
Shirley – I will miss you always, and I will never forget the times we had together!
Photo credit – dreamtime.com