How Turtle Got His Shell
by Beláxis Buil
Once upon a time, when the word was known as Pangea, and all the animals roamed the deserts, wilderness, and mountains freely, a soft-skinned turtle found his way to a desert. In the desert he met a Hyena. The Turtle found this beast quite peculiar and thought he had an unusual sense of humor. He was curious about this creature.
One day, as he swam in a small pond, he saw the Hyena. Hyena was looking at his reflection on the water’s surface and laughing to himself. It seemed the Hyena couldn’t understand why his reflection would try to rub his nose when he bent down to take a sip of water. Turtle swam up to Hyena, cleared his throat and said, "Hullo, I am Turtle. I swim in the water and rest on the ground to make myself warm. What is your name? And what do you do?”
Hyena looked at this small, bare, green little creature and began to laugh hysterically. “Oh, you are a funny little creature! You say that you are called Turtle? You swim all day and rest on the ground to make yourself warm!? Ha-ha-ha! That is the funniest thing I've ever heard!!! Ah-ha-ha!”
Turtle felt a bit hurt. He glanced at Hyena and thought to himself, Well, he is rather different than me. Perhaps he sees the world differently than I do. I won’t take it personally. Turtle looked at Hyena and said “Yes, I suppose I am a funny little creature, aren’t I?”
Hyena fell to the ground and erupted in laughter. He then remarked, “How do you plan to protect yourself from predators while you swim around in your bare, green skin? And how can you walk up to a beast you hardly know and expect to make friends? Why—you don't even know me! Ha-ha-ha-ha!”
Hyena ran off towards the horizon, still laughing. Turtle shrugged off the interaction and made his way back to the pond. “I am sure he’ll come back to play with me tomorrow.”
The next day Turtle took his little swim as usual, then sprawled out to catch the sweltering rays of the sun. Was he ever relaxed! All of a sudden, Turtle felt the temperature chill. It was as though a dark cloud was passing over him and covering the warm, delightful sunshine as it went. Then he felt a drop! A drop of water!
“Oh”, thought Turtle, “It must be rain!”
To his horror, when he opened his eyes, he saw Hyena towering over him. It was Hyena’s saliva he had felt, dripping off Hyena’s lips and teeth as he stood there lurking over Turtle. Turtle jumped up and scrambled away. Hyena, of course, loved playing tricks on all creatures of the wild—and with his practical joke complete, he flipped on his stomach and wheezed with laughter, finding it terribly funny how frightened Turtle had looked.
Turtle was really, really hurt. He couldn’t believe that Hyena was treating him this way. He looked at Hyena and asked, “Why would you play such a trick on me? Am I not showing you kindness and friendship? After all, we live together in this desert—although we might live in our own unique ways.”
Hyena stopped laughing. He stepped an inch closer to Turtle and took a long sniff. “Oh, we are most certainly unique, aren’t we? Ha-ha! I could smell you a mile away. You smell like—like the water! It is such a strange scent. I like how I smell, but you smell rotten. Ha-ha-ha!”
Turtle was speechless. He was completely shocked by Hyena’s behavior. Where he came from, Turtles swam in pairs, took their time to enjoy life, and approached all other creatures with the utmost respect! This Hyena was quite a beast indeed—terrible, mean, and menacing.
It was then that Turtle realized he must be wary of Hyena. There was something about him that put Turtle on edge. Turtle decided to politely excuse himself from Hyena’s company and headed back to the pond.
That night Turtle thought long and hard. “I must protect myself from this Hyena,” he said to himself. “Something tells me he cannot be trusted. He is not a friend. He is mean, and he always seems to be up to something”.
Still deep in thought, Turtle plunged down deeper into the pond. It was then that he noticed a beautiful shell, shaped unlike any shell he had ever seen before. He swam inside the shell and found to his surprise that it fit him like a glove! The shell was so comfortable that it almost felt like home. He kept it on and floated right up to the surface. “This can be my new home!” Turtle realized. “It will keep me warm at night when the temperature drops, and I can use it to hide from Hyena. I don’t think I like him very much. I have to guard myself.”
Turtle was thrilled to have a new home he could take around with him. He didn’t have to go around naked in his green skin, and he could protect himself from beasts like Hyena.
The next day, after going for a swim, Turtle decided to move his home to a new location. He moved slowly through the grasses around the pond, seeking out the perfect spot to rest. Eventually, he found one and plopped himself down. Oh, how marvelous he felt in his new home! He was a looker!
Meanwhile, Hyena had been making his way to the pond. When he arrived, he noticed that Turtle was nowhere to be found. “Hmm, where is that little green creature?” he mused. He sniffed, and sniffed, and sniffed for Turtle, but couldn’t find him. He began to run around, calling out,“Turtle, I am here to play with you! Where are you?”
Eventually Hyena was running in circles, sneezing as he went. He could smell Turtle but couldn’t find him. “Turtle, I am here—hee-ha-ha—I am here to play! I was a fool for not wanting to be your friend. I’m sorry. I mean it! Ha-ha-ha!” As he ran, he passed a curious-looking rock. He knew Turtle must be here somewhere!
Suddenly, the rock Hyena had passed seemed to grow limbs as Turtle stuck his arms, legs, and head out of his shell. Hyena jumped back. Cautiously, he leaned closer to the moving rock. It took him a moment to realize it was Turtle. “Turtle, what is that silly thing you are wearing around your body?”
Turtle didn’t answer, beginning to walk away slowly. Hyena leaped up and landed in front of Turtle, cutting him off. He exclaimed, “Turtle, what is that ridiculous thing you are wearing? And where are you going? I’ve come to play with you.” Turtle simply kept walking away.
Hyena turned red. He was fuming over being ignored. How dare this strange, green little creature ignore him? He was angry. And just like that, Hyena snapped his jaws at Turtle, only to be startled at the pain he felt in his mouth. “Ow!” He jumped forward again, gnashing his teeth and going in for another bite—but again he was forced to pull back as the bite seemed to hurt him more than it hurt Turtle! Whimpering and crying out loud, he shrieked, “What have you done? My teeth! You hurt me with that thick shell you are wearing!”
Turtle slowly turned around, smiling at Hyena and looking unsurprised. “Oh, well. Now you know how it feels to be hurt, don’t you?” He turned his back on Hyena and resumed walking away.
Hyena sat there whining nervously. He began crying harder when he saw that some of his teeth had fallen out. He couldn’t believe this green little creature had ruined his smile. After all, Hyena was known for strutting his smile through the desert. It seemed Turtle had successfully protected himself. Now Hyena was left hungry, and had to scurry off with his tail tucked between his legs.
Turtle wasn’t soft, sensitive, or a push-over, although some people might think these things about turtles due to their kindness. He simply became tired of Hyena’s cruel, devious ways, and in the end, he decided to wear a protective shell around himself every day—just to keep himself safe. Now when you see a Turtle in their shell, you’ll understand why.