You first met Flippy when he was but a tiny hatchling, as far from the sea as your SAT score was from the 75th percentile. Unfortunately, Flippy died a death of indescribable horror last March when a vicious Dutch boy named Carl smashed him repeatedly against a rock.
Sources confirm that you were at your sorority’s Saints & Sinners party when Flippy’s helpless little body took its last blow.
“No, WITH ice—WITH ice,” you mouthed to the bartender as Flippy felt the light leave his eyes.
From the moment you looked into Doris’s glassy, impenetrable coal-black eyes, you knew that your father’s assistant who majored in Comp Lit at Yale would find just the right words to describe them. Saving Doris confirmed your passion for your father’s passion for bond yields. Heck, in some ways, it was Doris that saved you. (IS that “a bit much”? Or did someone pick the wrong major, Anya?)
Sadly, despite the habitat you built for Doris—a 12 oz Peet’s cup propped up by a seashell—she was quickly caught and drowned by a commercial shrimp trawler’s net. At the precise moment when Doris’s remains reached the Eastern Seaboard, you were Googling “yeast infection can you still have sex” in Ibiza, but had run out of roaming. “Yeast infection UTI how to tell,” you tried in a new tab, to no avail.
Remember that phenomenology paper you plagiarized from a Reddit thread junior year? If, per Nagel, it is impossible for a human to know what it’s like for a bat to be a bat, you pondered at 3:57 AM while transcribing NewtMasta113’s comment chain verbatim, could it be that certain life forms experience pain at a frequency we humans cannot fathom? Indeed, you added as you chased your Adderall and zinc supplements with some berry lime Gatorade, could an animal theoretically feel, in a single second, the sum-total of the suffering of all people dead and undead—an agony so penetratingly, unendurably acute that human language itself, in its subservience to our own feeble subjectivity, would fail to describe it?
“Oh, an animal could,” Pebbles’s disembodied soul would say, if he still had one after what those Girl Scouts did to him. “An animal could.”
4. The Fourth Turtle
You did not have a chance to name the fourth turtle before it was tragically cut in half by your stepping on it in flare heels at the Boogie Bonanza Bonfire Bash. It was a horrific, blood-curdling sight, and one you would have certainly described as a “challenging experience that made you grow” if you hadn’t already saved that essay for your cousin’s anorexia.
For a minute, looking at what you’d done to the fourth turtle, you almost questioned the very premise of American higher education: could it be that it was saturated with the abuses of patrimonial capitalism all the way down? And that our insistence on its meritocratic ethos merely added personal insult to economic injury for those left behind? And that our obsession with the highest-profile admissions scandals constituted little more than our repressed awareness of our own pernicious complicity in the system’s larger moral bankruptcy?
But then you leaned closer to the precise splotch the fourth turtle had formed on the sand, and, staring deep into the abyss of its aborted future, sliced lengthways into eternal nihility, you figured…
…two halves of one turtle definitely counts as two turtles.