Sonny by Jamie / Your young teenage queen

I remember so clearly that summer 2 years ago. I was in the front seat of my car, my mother driving, my sister and her boyfriend in the back seat. We were on our way to drop the boyfriend off home when we saw a rock in the road, right in front of my grandmother’s house. As we got closer, we realized the rock had a head, and legs! My mother slammed the brakes, and I jumped out and approached the creature. I caught a glance of its glowing orange eyes, then watched as it pulled itself entirely into its shell. I was scared at first, but then I picked it up and carried it to my grandmother’s front lawn. It was nothing but a little shell now. but oh, was I excited! I had always wanted a pet turtle, to hold it, to look at it. I went inside, and for a very long time stroked the smooth shell, waiting for the turtle to emerge. It didn’t until hours later, and I had stayed with it the whole time. He looked at me, staring, seeing if I was a dangerous being, lingering over his shell like that. Those dinosaur-like green and orange eyes captivated me. I knew I struck gold, finding such a cool looking creature. He continued to stare, and I couldn’t help but to reach out and stroke the top of his head. He lurched back into his shell, but this time he came back out almost immediately. I tried again, more slowly this time, and he let me.

Oh, what a dear little friend that turtle became… I had decided to call the humble little creature Sonny. Every day since the day I had found him, I held him and stroked his leathery head and neck happily. At that time in my life, I had no close friends. I was a lonely young girl who just wanted a friend to do things with me. So considering these circumstances, I took my dear new friend with me everywhere. I took him to Petco, on drives, fishing, and in the backyard. Imagine how enthralled I was when I once lifted up a concrete block in the backyard to find a mealworm, and the moment he saw it, his eyes followed it, he craned his neck, and… chomp! I was so excited by this that almost every day I took my friend “hunting” in the yard, my favorite place to be. See, nobody but me went back in the backyard. It was magnificent and overgrown, with tall trees and a wonderful weeping beech that I took shelter under. It was my domain, my secret place. I called it “Terebithia”, after the famous book “Bridge to Terebithia”‘s namesake place. Therefore, I welcomed my dear new pet warmly with a ceremony, dubbing him “Prince Sonny of Terebithia”. I could share this magical place with my prince. I could tell him secrets that he would never tell anyone. for hours i could sit in the moss under that weeping beech, stroking his shell and telling him things that I had no friends to tell. The same went for when we went fishing out at places like Mattituck; I would let him climb the rocks and rest in the warm sand. While people brought their dogs to a place such as that, I had my portable and much-loved turtle.

Months and months passed and Sonny was still one of my most favorite pets. Imagine having a very special friend whom you could bring wherever you wanted, and he never protested, never complained. Still I had no dear friends, and Sonny was all I had, and all I needed. but in the crisp month of October, I knew my little friend had to leave me for awhile, for as all box turtles do, he went into hibernation. Even with the new friends I had made in school I grew very lonely without my turtle, and the yearning for a companion just until he woke up pushed me to buy an assortment of pets to try and replace him for the time being. A mouse. A rat. A dwarf hamster. As precious as they were, they just couldn’t live up to my docile, humble little Sonny’s unconditional friendship. One day I could no longer stand the suspense and worry of him suffering death during hibernation (common in domesticated box turtles), and I woke up my friend. Even then he didn’t complain, just gave me one of his stares, yawned quite largely, and ate a bit of turtle chow. I petted him for awhile, then wished him well in the rest of his hibernation, and
let him go back to sleep.

One day after school I had received a call from a long-lost friend. We talked for a long time and got to the topic of our pets. I told her about my dogs and cats and rodents and then told her all about my sweet little Sonny. Being on the topic of him, I decided to lift him gently even in his deep sleep, just to see if he was doing alright (if he looked sick during hibernation, I’d touch him and he’d stir a bit and I’d know he was ok). I lifted him, and greeted him warmly, as always, with my friend still on the line. I petted his shell very gently, and it took me a moment to realize that his position in his shell was not like it usually was. I decided to gently wake him up, but he did not stir. My friend heard the worry in my voice, and though I wanted to still talk, I just couldn’t. I hung up and very gently shook his shell while it was set on my desk. I fell to petting him, and as the cold realization fell over me, I petted him more and more gently. I knew it was true, but I couldn’t let it be. It was, though; Sonny was dead.

I waited a while to tell my mother, possibly because I didn’t want to accept it myself. When I told her, she put him in a tupperware, duct taped it shut, and had no choice but to leave it on the back table until the ground thawed, for it was January, and impossible to bury him. I was so cold with grief, so upset that nobody understood why I cried over a box turtle. I could only keep myself company with the memories of my dear friend; memories of the sandy shores, lifting up rocks in Terebithia to find him food, the car rides, him in my lap, the leathery feel of his long neck, the glowing eyes and that humble stare. When I could finally bury him in May (it was a very long winter that year), I painted him a wooden, golden cross which I staked into the ground at his gravesite. I visited him frequently the first few days, but they began to die out as I accepted his death. For Sonny had died sleeping,
the most peaceful way a pet could go.

Since Sonny’s death, I’ve finally found myself to get a new turtle; a Russian Tortoise by the name of Jack, also know as “Prince Jack Vladimir of Terebithia II” Though a sweet little thing, Jack just cannot replace the hole in my heart that Sonny’s death had left upon me. I take him to Sonny’s grave sometimes and tell him stories of his wonderful predecessor, my wonderful Sonny. Though I have matured and grown from my childish ways of when I owned him, I still remember fondly the memories of my young teenage years spent with my innocent friend, my little Sonny. If you can indeed see this, my turtle, then you must know the impact you’ve had on me when I needed a friend the most. Rest in Peace, my dear friend, and I know that when it’s my time, we will together play once more in a “Terebithia” that’s far more golden.


With love always and forever,