Negotiating the maze of love can be a treacherous undertaking, and never more so than when you’re a pubescent snapping turtle.
Garth felt the need to find love dictating his every move. And, yes, he was determined it should be love, not mere companionship or a momentary mate. He wasn’t quite sure what love was, but it seemed to be a force that possessed him, causing him to have impulses that would move him despite intention or expectation.
He thought little of Amina the gecko, yet he found himself inhaling deeply of the scent left behind when she borrowed his scarf. Many moments he wanted to seize Cary the water moccasin in his jaws and crush him, while other times he could think of nothing more sublime than running those same jaws gently along the pale length of his snake classmate. Surely that wasn’t his own desire speaking, but the throbbing influence of love, animating his limbs to strange action.
It was a very confusing time for Garth.
His confusion was only increased by the expectations placed on young snapping turtles in the savage courtship of adolescence. There was a certain charming brutishness exhibited by his peers that Garth would occasionally attempt to replicate, almost exclusively followed by laughter and mockery. He would remind himself of his own charm, yet its unavoidable lack of evidence made him doubt.
Lost in retreading these very thoughts, Garth was taken by surprise when a snail from his class said, “Hi.” Suddenly the pearlescent swirl of its shell captured his attention as it never had before. “Hi,” he replied.
“Do you want to walk with me to class?” the snail asked. Garth feverishly enumerated the similarities between snapping turtles and snails: both have shells; both are considered to be slow, but truly that owed to their cautious, discerning natures; and both are woefully underrated. All this in mind, he answered: “Okay.”
As the two moved in tandem, Garth debated a physical expression of his immediate, intense feelings. Owing partially to the fact that the snail had no hand for him to hold, Garth belayed that to a future encounter. But he had no doubt: this was how love starts.