The final part of Giant by Nature. I hope you have enjoyed the story.
I pulled my head into my shell just as the truck came to an abrupt stop, pushing me hard enough into the box surrounding to break the front of the box apart. Tommy’s father opened the back of the truck and putting a ramp against the back of the truck for me to walk down. I heard Tommy say, ‘Come on Fernando, we need to hurry.’ Then I heard Tommy’s father yell, ‘Julie, get Tommy on the boat.’ I didn’t know who Julie was, but I watched as a woman grabbed Tommy and ran. I moved as fast as I could down that ramp. That woman had Tommy. I had to save him. I followed the woman as fast as I could, hearing Tommy’s dad saying, ‘Hurry Fernando!’
When I got to the boat, I could barely breathe. I may swim at twenty miles an hour in an ocean; on land is another story. My stubby legs and arthritis only let me go so fast, but I made it. As the boat was pulling away into the ocean, everyone on the boat including me, I saw and heard a lot of noise and saw many lights. I figured unless they were going to swim, they were not going to catch me.
I looked around, and the woman was holding Tommy. She was holding him, rocking him back and forth. I walked over to Tommy and stretched my neck for a scratch hearing him say, ‘Mom this is my friend Fernando.’ I was relieved, I didn’t have to worry, that woman was Tommy’s mother.
It was a long trip. I was glad I had the time to spend those days with Tommy. We sat in the sun, and I gave Tommy rides around the boat. That woman, his mother, she fed me watermelon every day. I thought earthworms were good. I could spend all day eating watermelon. I don’t think they realized I could go a year with without eating or drinking anything, but I wasn’t going to turn down the snacks they were giving me.
One morning I was sitting in the sun napping, Tommy was lying on my back and I heard Tommy’s father say, ‘There is the Island!” I looked out the back of the boat and indeed I was home. I was excited and sad at the same time. Tommy climbed down from my back, and said, ‘Fernando, you are home!’ I honked in response to him.
I watched Tommy begin to cry, and I rubbed my head on his red shirt. I knew it was time to say goodbye. I listened as Tommy’s father and the Captain talked about how they could push me off the boat so I could swim to shore. I think they were wondering if I would know what to do.
Tommy’s father said, ‘It is time Tommy Fernando is home and we need to let him go now.’ I rubbed my head on Tommy’s leg and stretched my neck one last time for a scratch. Tommy scratched my neck. He wrapped his arms around my neck and said, ‘I love you, Fernando. Don’t ever forget me. I don’t want you to worry, I will be okay now that I know you will be safe.’
Tommy’s father and the captain opened the door on the back of the boat. I looked at Tommy one last time and dove into the water and swam to shore. I walked to join the others sunning on the rocks and raised my flipper to wave goodbye to Tommy as I watched the boat begin to sail back to San Diego.
I looked at Mateo, and he was smiling. ‘Great story Dad, I am glad you came back home.” “I am too son, now go on back up the hill to the women, I bet they have a treat ready for you. I am proud of you Mateo. Remember this story and tell the others.’ ‘I will dad!’ I watched Mateo move back up the hill. As I looked out across the calm deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, I wondered if Tommy was at peace. It was time to find out. Time to look for that next neck scratch from Tommy. I am one hundred and fifty-one years old. I looked at the Island one last time knowing that Mateo and the other sixteen hundred offspring I have produced would carry on my legacy. All I must do is jump in the ocean one last time, and Tommy and I will be together again. Raising my arthritic body, I jumped into the ocean. Hitting the cool water, I am at peace.