Humble and pragmatic, along moseyed the box turtle across the road. Seemingly safe in the parking lot of a nature center, the turtle walked a bit then stopped at a noise, ducking into its shell. Convinced it was safe again, the turtle’s plastron hinge opened and it began to poke its head out. All checked out and it pushed its legs and tail out and continued.
About the time the box turtle hit center road, along came a vehicle. Now, this is when the turtle would have pulled in again to hide from the danger, but we’ll never know if that was something it had time to do, for this driver, seemingly with intent and malice, steered the vehicle wheel base over the center. I don’t know why a person would do such a thing. Evidently those of us who teach appreciation for the natural world had failed this driver. The poor turtle, dead upon impact, was smashed square on center. Entrails on display through the shattered pieces of its carapace, a stream of blood trickling downhill is how we found it. Upon closer inspection, this turtle was new to the area or had simply remained hidden for a dozen or more years, for there was no evidence of an identifying filed number on the shell.
We all mourned the death of a turtle that day. I mourned the death of innocence.