Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Hatchling By Nikki Hewitson

Everything is dark. I can hear a little - the rushing in the distance lulls me to sleep - but the sounds are dampened and muffled, because I am trapped: Buried alive. You might think I would yearn for my freedom, railing against my imprisonment, but I know I am not ready yet. Not yet, but soon; then my world will change and my struggle will begin. My mother's sacrifice has prepared me for this moment, and I will think of her as I run for my life. My mother, who risked everything for me and my siblings.

She left the safety of her home in the dead of night so that she could hide us, keep us safe from those who would do us harm: Vicious beings who emerge from the darkness with a yearning for our soft flesh, or large creatures whose clumsy misstep might kill us. This world is one of nightmares; she left us here (she had no choice), and I don't know if she made it home. I love and admire her more than anyone, yet I have never seen her face, nor is it likely that I ever will.

It is time. The sand is beginning to cool, and I think night has fallen. I am not what I once was: I have grown strong enough to break my confines, and brave enough to try. Slowly, the shell begins to crack, and my senses are besieged. The moonlight almost blinds me, and I wonder how bright the sun must be. I flex my limbs and break free, and the sensation of sand on my skin is almost overwhelming.

But the rushing waves give me direction as I start my journey. The vast expanse of beach between me and the ocean seems impossibly far, and I wonder if I will know how to swim when I get there. Determination devours my doubt, and my mother's sacrifice won't be for nothing. I am not the first of my siblings to leave our haven, and I hope we will be reunited. Perhaps my mother will be there.

Against insurmountable odds, I make it to the water. It is warmer than I expected, and feels like home. I look around me at the hundreds of other turtles who have shared my story, and marvel at how our worlds have changed in just a snapshot of our lives. What else might life have in store?

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