Happy Turtles to All and to All a Good Night.

She stood on a train platform, and when I say she, I mean I, and I mean I the way most people wish they could say she when they mean I. So, she, which is and isn’t I, stood at the platform frantically swearing at a train as it moved out from the station. Damn the train and its tracks and every ugly person who got on board, she thought, though the truth was not that all the people were ugly (though some of them were) but rather that they were on the train. Being on the train while she was on the platform seemed enough to make them all ugly and undeserving.

Fuck, she said aloud, then fuck again, and again, it whispered with the tapping echo of the sole of her shoe against the bitumen. It was cold, she had forgotten her jacket, and asides from several handfuls of almonds, she had not eaten. Almonds are not a meal, she said to herself, then she said fuck again, just for good measure.

Twenty minutes until the next train made the people inside the last one even uglier. She sat down on the cold ground, as all the seats were taken. A man cried out from further down the platform. “You fucking bitch”. She looked at her feet and pretended not to hear him. “I said you fucking bitch, come here!” Again her eyes stared down at her shoes as if they were trying to burrow down to her little pinkies.

“You bitch, listen to me when I am talking to you, the fucking nerve, Hey BITCH”. His steps grew closer. She began to wonder what she had done. She hadn’t sworn so loudly to have been heard by anyone before, let alone a man on the farthest side of the platform. Pondering again she realised she hadn’t knocked, hit, stamped, stolen from or offended any one in any particular way recently. Perhaps he was not talking to her after all. Looking up, he most certainly was. he also seemed drunk and was wearing scary pants- the ones with the long line down each leg, the kind that say either ” I haven’t eaten carbs in a month” or “Imafuckyouup” – depending what suburb you’re standing in at them time. Looking at his patchy beard and slack-jawed taunts she guessed he was part of the later group.

Staring at her shoe, she ignored him until his shadow fell over her. “I said, HEY BITCH…” She wished she could have stood up and said something grand, or pulled a glove from her pocket and slapped him hard with it across the face, or even said in a proud voice “yes, good sir, what is it that you want?” But instead she relied on her instincts, and when it comes down to it, instincts can be very silly things.

“Happy Turtle,” she said with her hands, “happy turtle, Confident turtle. We all applaud the confident turtle.” The only thing she could say in sign language. She said it again and again and again. “What the fuck are you doing” the man spat. She was not proud, but knew what she had to do next. She pushed her tongue to the roof of her mouth, pushed as hard as she could, and spoke: “I’m deaf- Soh-ary”.

“Fuck” the man said, wobbling slightly as he started at her false confession. It seems that even assholes have their limits, who knows, maybe his mother was deaf. The girl returned her gaze to the shoes and continued waiting for the train as the man stumbled down the station ramp, swearing at strangers. Happy turtle indeed, she thought as the next train load of passengers, beautiful ones this time, pulled up at the station.

    • Natasha Cordele
    • May 13th, 2010

    LOVE this!
    “Happy Turtle” indeed.

    • Gloves and glasses
    • May 15th, 2010

    My hands are happy turtles now as well.

    It’s an impact.

  1. beautiful ones this time! hurrah!

    • Cheers! Much appreciate the comment and I am most excited about the “Hurrah” bit.
      In fact, Hurrahs all round.

  2. I was quoting this lovely bit from the last sentence: “Happy turtle indeed, she thought as the next train load of passengers, beautiful ones this time, pulled up at the station.” CHeck your emails. I wrote to you before I saw your email to the c-mouth inbox (the paper scrawl survived). Am going to go track down that facebook group right now.

    • Ahhh… that’s right! I shouldn’t reply to comments too late at night, especially not during the sleepy hours when I stop recognising my own writing and ask silly questions.
      Look forward to seeing you in Charlie Facebook.

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