March Bloom: "My Risen Turtle Savior"

Many thanks to Kath S. for sharing a good deed experience that inspired me to write this month’s flash fiction story titled My Risen Turtle Savior. Here’s an excerpt from what Kath submitted.

“I was running down the subway stairs to catch a coming train. My left ankle collapsed outward, and I sat on the steps. Embarrassed, I quickly pulled myself up, determined to make that train. But I rolled on the other ankle, falling back on the steps again with a sharp gasp and pain. A man held the door open for me, but once aboard I couldn’t remain standing. At my stop, two men offered help. They each grabbed an arm and half carried me home. I lay on the bed listening while they respectfully stood outside the open apartment while calling my wife and 911. ‘Wow,’ I thought. How nice is that? Two random New Yorkers ensured no one made off with my bag and brought me home safely.”

"My Risen Turtle Savior"

I forced myself forward by another yard, attacking the waves with a mix of freestyle and back strokes, struggling to reach land after an ocean storm. A tropic wave had consumed our sail boat and flung us into open waters. While spinning and careening in rising and receding waves, without the life jackets we should have worn, I lost sight of my husband. Oh god, we’d known the day’s weather forecast but risked outpacing the storm. It was the last day of our Caribbean getaway.

I struggled to find him and failed. I forged ahead to survive. Since childhood, I’d absorbed myself in swimming the vastness of ocean fluidity and spying on its living things. I bounced between my mother’s Miami condo and my father’s gulf side bungalow. Ocean waters insulated me from brooding parents spawning old marital burdens post a messy divorce.

In this moment I mustered a Diana Nyad mindset, channeling whatever held her together on distance swimming from Havana to Key West. I seized the mantra “One more mile,” begging God’s forgiveness for leaving my loss behind and pleading for guidance to find the shore.

“One more mile.” I repeated it over a thousand times before cramps paralyzed me. Stalled by ebbing momentum, I slipped into sinking, my head bobbing between the bubbly blue and open air. “One more mile,” I mouthed, bargaining to skirt surrender. I snatched a large dose of oxygen, certain I’d fail survival, and then slipped in and out of consciousness, dreaming that my hands brushed a stone, a rock, a boulder rising me upward. I draped my forearms, my shoulders, my agonizing sides, and complete self over the thing supporting me.
Over the next few days, I glided through darkness and light on the ocean’s surface, hugging my boulder. We rode rough waves and sailed the surf, moving from the ocean’s nowhere to that somewhere “one more mile away.”

“Hey, look at that. What the heck it is?”
“That’s a turtle, a huge one, a leatherback.”
“What’s on top of it?”
“Oh my god, a person, it’s a person”
“Could it be the woman from that boat thing a couple of days ago?”

The distant voices penetrating my ears as I felt my dangling feet touch dry sand. A few people came into my view as the bold leatherback delivered me to safe ground. Before they reached me, the leatherback gently paddled my back, deposited her eggs, and glided back to ocean waters.