The Tortoise on the Swing

Night had fallen and the park was empty, or so Cecily thought as she sat on the swing. Tortoises weren’t supposed to like swings, but Cecily always had, from a very young age. She’d learned to be careful though and not let others see her on the swings. It was a cool spring night and the wind was blowing gently through the nearby trees. All of a sudden Cecily heard someone sobbing over by the sandboxes. Cecily got off the swing and went to investigate. Sure enough, as she approached she could see a very young girl sitting in the largest sandbox crying her eyes out.
Cecily went up to the young girl and said, “Why are you crying?”
The young girl stopped and looked up trying to figure out who was talking. “Who said that,” the girl asked, “and where are you?”
“I’m right here next to you,” answered Cecily.
The little girl looked down. Cecily thought she was about eight years old. “But you’re a tortoise. Everyone knows tortoises don’t talk,” said the girl.
“Oh, everyone knows, do they,” huffed Cecily. “Well, did you ever think that everyone might just be wrong?”
“No,” whimpered the girl. “Everyone is always right except me and they keep telling me so every day. I can’t do anything right and now I’ve even gotten lost.”
Cecily felt sad for this young girl. Cecily knew what it was like to be different. After all, she was the only tortoise she had ever known or heard of who liked to swing. Cecily asked gently, “What is your name?”
“I’m Samantha,” the girl answered, “and I was supposed to go to the store and come straight home with a loaf of bread but I followed a bunch of kids who said there was a great park near by and I did so want to play but then they left and I got lost and then I dropped the bread and I am going to be in so much trouble when I get home. Oh why does this always happen to me?”
“Samantha. That’s a really lovely name and I bet you are a very lovely young lady,” answered Cecily.
Samantha snapped back, “That’s all you know. I’m ugly and clumsy and I get everything wrong. Everyone says so!”
“The same everyone who say tortoises can’t talk,” asked Cecily slyly.
Samantha looked at Cecily and thought for a long time. “Yeah, I guess,” she finally answered, “but what am I going to do?”
“If I helped you get to the store so you could get another loaf of bread, then could you get home from there,” asked Cecily.
“Yes,” said Samantha, “I know how to get home from the store but I don’t have any more money for more bread.”
“You let me worry about that,” answered Cecily. “I am friends with the store owners. Let’s go get you that bread and send you on your way and maybe no one will notice you’ve been gone a bit longer than usual.”
Samantha seemed to perk up at that. “Will you really help me,” she asked, not really believing anyone would.
“Of course,” said Cecily, “and what’s more, I’ll see you home and on the way I will show you a spot where we can meet whenever you like. I’ll show you how to leave me a message.”
Samantha was amazed! “You mean tortoises can read as well as speak?”
“Naturally,” said Cecily, smiling, “and I am going to make sure to keep an eye on you so that you know you have a friend. Now come on and don’t dawdle!”
With that, Cecily and Samantha left the park and Samantha felt sure that at last she had a friend.

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