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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Shelly, The Flying Turtle

Huge blue-green waves washed onto the shore. Turtleís silhouettes could be seen as the waves rose high into the air before crashing onto the silvery sand. Thousands of huge sea turtles were coming ashore to lay their eggs. They came out of the water and lumbered onto the wet sand. Each turtle dug a deep hole with their flippers, laid their eggs by the light of the moon, and then made their way back into the water. Many weeks later the eggs begin to hatch and fight their way out of the sandy hole.

"Whoa! Itís sort of crowded in here," Shelly said. Flippers and tiny heads were piled on top of each other, trying to escape. "Hang on guys. Letís do this patiently." Nobody was listening. Each small turtle wanted to be the first one out. Shelly had no choice but to wait her turn as the others climbed on her head and back, pushing her deeper into the hole. "Finally," she sighed and made her way out of the hole. "This is quite nice," she smiled, looking around.

Tall palm trees swayed gently in the tropical trade winds. The smell of plumeria filled the air. She looked down at the waves. "Here I come," she said and rushed away from the safety of the hole towards the ocean. Sheíd only gone a few feet when she saw a huge seagull swoop down and carry one of her brothers away in its talons. "Whoa! What just happened here? Whereís that bird taking my brother?" Another gull swooped down and carried off another brother, and then a sister. Soon the whole beach was covered with birds and they were attacking her family. "Yikes! What is going on here? How am I supposed to get to the water when every bird on the island is down here having a feast!" She hid behind a rock and watched in horror as a hungry bird devoured nearly every one of the other small sea turtles. She was relieved to see several make it to the water. She stayed hidden all day long.

After the sun had set and the birds had flown away, she crawled out from behind the rock. "Hey, what are you doing here?" Shelly turned to see a grayish-blue crab with its pinching claws waving about in the air. "Youíre supposed to be in the water, not hiding up here on the sand," it said.

"Oh, hello. I had to hide or a seagull would have eaten me," Shelly answered.

"Those birds are rather annoying at times. Iíve learned when to stay under the sand to avoid them," the crab replied. "By the way, my nameís Claws. Appropriate, wouldnít you say?" he giggled.

Shelly chuckled. "Hi, Claws. My nameís Shelly. I just hatched this morning. Do the seagulls always eat the baby turtles?" she asked.

"Every year. Thousands of turtles come here and lay their eggs. A while later they hatch and the gulls appear by the millions, or so it seems. Sad to say, only a handful of turtles ever make it to the safety of the oceanís waves," Claws told her.

Come over to the tide pool and meet some of my other friends. Perhaps we can help you. The turtle and crab walked over to the shallow pool. "This hereís my friend, Barney. Heís a barnacle. He lives here and doesnít get out much."

"Pleased to meet you," Barney said.

"Shelly just hatched this morning and found out the hard way about the seagulls. Watched her whole family eaten. Sad situation," Claws explained. "Thatís Perry, the periwinkle, Slouch, the sea slug and Buff, the mussel. They all live in the tide pool too."

No sooner had he finished introducing Shelly to his friends than they heard the squawk of a seagull. "Gotto go," Claws said and darted into the tide pool. He pushed himself under and rock and hid.

The seagull landed on the sand near Shelly. "Ah, a late night supper," it said. It let out a loud squawk and ran towards the turtle. Shelly didnít know what to do. She started to run towards the sea. The gull chased after her and was just about to gobble her down when something amazing happened. Shelly flapped her flippers and flew into the air. "What?" the gull said.

The animals in the tide pool all gulped. "Come and see this," Barney called to Claws. He crept out from under the rock.

"What is that? Shellyís flying? Since when do sea turtles fly?" he wondered, scratching his head with his biggest claw.

Shelly flew through the air. "I can fly," she laughed. "Now that seagull canít get me!" She flapped her flippers and flew until she was above the water. She landed softly on a wave and sunk down to the depths of the blue-green sea. "Iím safe," she shouted and swam away.

Many years went by. Shelly grew into a huge sea turtle. Whenever she found herself in danger, she had always been able to escape by flying away. It came time for her to lay her eggs. She swam back to the island where sheíd been born. She was tired by the time she got there. She was washed onto the sand and slowly made her way onto the dryer part of the beach. She laid her eggs in a deep hole and covered them with sand. "I know whatís going to happen. I think Iíll come back in a few weeks." That night Shelly went back to the sea and swam about as usual for many weeks. When she thought it was time for her eggs to hatch, she did something that most mother turtles donít do Ė she went back.

She lay on the sand and waited patiently for them to hatch. One day she saw a tiny head poking out of the sand. Soon another one popped out, and then another, and another. No sooner did this happen when the seagulls came around. She could hear their squawks. "Children, donít run to the sea. Climb on my back and Iíll take you there," she whispered to her babies. All hundred of the baby sea turtles climbed onto their motherís shell.

They could see hundreds of sea birds standing on the sand, waiting for them. "Donít worry, my babies, Iíll get you to the ocean safely. Iíll never let them get to you like they did to all my brothers and sisters." Shelly flapped her flippers and flew above the sand, carrying all the tiny turtles on her shell.

"Ha ha ha," shouted one of them, as they flew over the gulls.

"Canít get us now," another baby yelled.

Most of them stuck their tongues out at the angry seagulls, which were busy squawking and searching for other turtles.

From that year on, Shelly did the same thing. Every one of her babies made it safely to the sea. She let them go on their own after that, but at least the seagulls didnít eat them.

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