Floda, a schoolboy, between the ages of 9 and 11.
Reason, a tortoise, late 80s-early 90s.
Lights go up on a small pond surrounded by a dense grove of shedding trees. School has just let out. Floda squats at the ponds edge, poking around the water with a brittle stick. His uniform is caked with mud and his face and hands as well. His hat has been cast to the side, teetering on the pond’s edge. Reason is stationed several feet behind, camouflaging with the fallen leaves. His round shell is grey with an alternating pattern of green and brown. As he makes his way in the direction of the pond, Floda stiffens at the sound of rustling behind him. He is afraid. He thinks he's been caught by his snitch of an older half- sister.
FLODA: Gee Mr. Turtle, I thought you were my sister. If she saw me like this, I’d never hear the end of it from Mother.
REASON: Tortoise son, I’m no turtle. That’s one good thing about being a tortoise though. No soiled clothes, no washes.
(Reason shuffles over to the boy’s side and turns his head towards him.)
FLODA: Wow Mr. Turtle, you sure are lucky. Mother always makes me bathe. I wish I could live out here like you. No soiled clothes, no washes.
REASON: Tortoise, not turtle. But you’re a boy, you couldn’t survive out here on your own.
(Floda turns swiftly towards Reason, eyes ablaze.)
FLODA: (Shouts.) I could too! I learned all about turtles in school! They can swim and baby turtles hatch from eggs. When they’re born they have to try real hard to get to the ocean before predators catch them! I’m real fast. No predator could catch me. And I swim real good too, honest!
REASON: (grunts at the mention of ‘turtles’.) Tortoise, not turtle.
(Floda absentmindedly continues, ignoring Reason’s comment.)
FLODA: Did you know turtle’s have been around since the dinosaurs? Their shells are made especially for swimming and is called a carapace. Their favorite foods in the whole world are jellyfish and seaweed. Oh how I wish I could be a turtle like you!
REASON: Tortoise son, not turtle! I can’t swim and would hate to eat jellyfish or seaweed..whatever those things are.
FLODA: (Gasps.) Can’t swim? Oh poor Mr. Turtle why can’t you swim? Did no one teach you? It’ll be real easy since your carapace is made for it. Here I’ll show you.
(Floda tries to pick up Reason and carry him to the pond but he is too heavy. Instead Floda decides to push Reason until the two reach the water.)
REASON: (Frantically.) Tortoise boy, not turtle! Please don’t push me in I can’t swim!
FLODA: Oh Mr. Turtle it’ll be alright, don’t be scared. I remember the first time father taught me to swim. At first I was scared too, thought the water was gonna pull me down. But he told me to kick my arms and legs and I was swimming! Don’t worry Mr. Turtle, I’ll help you.
REASON: No boy you don’t understand. I’m a Tortoise you see, not a turtle. I don’t swim. I’m much too heavy. If you try to teach me, I’ll sink right to the bottom and never come back up.
FLODA: Don’t be silly, you’re a turtle! I learned in school that you can stay underwater for 5 hours. I wish I could hold my breath that long.
(Floda begins to push Reason into the water.)
REASON: Wait, wait. Before you teach me how to swim, do you mind getting my rock? I love it so dearly I can’t go anywhere without it. I’ll wait here you go get it. It’s over by that elm tree.
(As Floda goes to search for the rock, Reason tries to escape. He slowly makes his way up and away from the ponds edge until he reaches a pile of leaves. He nestles beside them and hides in his shell, quiet with eyes closed.)
FLODA: (excitedly.) I’ve found your rock Mr. Turtle. Time for your swimming lesson!
(Floda easily spots Reason near the leaves and walks in his direction.)
FLODA: I know you’re scared Mr. Turtle but there’s no need to hide. I found your rock now I’ll teach you to swim, It’ll be fun.
(Reason tries hard to sink into the pile of leaves and make himself heavy but Floda begins to push him back to the water.)
REASON: Please boy I’ve been trying to tell you. I’m a Tortoise not a turtle. I cannot swim. Please leave me be and go on home. It’s getting late your mother will be worried.
FLODA: (pauses.) You’re right about Mother. She’ll send sister out soon enough and I’ll never hear the end of it.
REASON: (with relief.) Yes(sighs.) Go on home. Don’t want to upset Mother now do we? That’s much more important than learning to swim.
FLODA: I’ll come back. But in the meantime you will learn to swim! You can hold your breath for 5 hours. I’ll be back well before then.
REASON: Wait! No please, wai-
(With a mighty shove, Reason is completely submerged by the pond water. His feet begin to sink in the muddy bottom under the weight of his shell and the water.)
FLODA:(joyously; off-stage.) I’ll be back before you know it Mr. Tur- Tortoise!
(Fade to black.)
Sienna Jones is a freshman at the University at Albany. Originally from Yonkers, NY. Sienna is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Film Studies. She’s always had a knack for writing and loves the opportunity to explore different forms. In her free time, Sienna is an avid reader and movie buff. She hopes to one day work in film.