The turtle didn’t pull out when I started crying during sex. And I started crying because I realized I didn’t love the turtle anymore. I had to ask the turtle to stop fucking me so I could collect myself, and the turtle said oh yeah, sure. The turtle doesn’t care if I live or die.

Before my mom told me to block the turtle’s phone number, we were in love, and the turtle would read his poetry to me. His metaphors were dumb and clumsy and tired, but I liked to nod when he asked for advice on the verbs he used and the experimental form he was trying which, at the end of the day, was just a series of slant rhymes.

The turtle was really nice to me until he wasn’t. The turtle met my parents, but kept his hat on the whole time. His mouth looked like a bird flying in the corner of some strange romantic painting. So grim. Even his scales seemed grim; he didn’t bother to shine them. 

The turtle tried to explain his politics to me, but he always loses me when he tries to prove a vital link between the eating habits of seagulls having to dictate a key piece of evidence within the Kennedy assassination. I told him he sounded like a conspiracy theorist and then he wouldn’t talk to me for days. He just tucked himself into his shell and when I peered inside I could see his dark shining eyes looking out at me, mercurial, sad, drunk. 

At the end of the day, if I had to really think about it, I don’t think the turtle cares if I live or die. So why should I live? Why should I die? 

The turtle, I think, was a borderline alcoholic. I know you think I should have left him, and run off with the circus medic that I met at the supermarket, the one with the handlebar mustache and sleeve of tattoos dedicated to Hello Kitty, but I’m not perfect either. I kept flirting with artsy dads at my niece’s private school until they gifted me acid and I tripped through days with my eyes dragging on the floor.

He doesn’t love me and he doesn’t have thumbs–– of course he’s not going to make me cum.

The turtle, of course, can breathe out of his cloaca, which is also his butthole. This makes him more talented than any of my friends’ partners. Honestly, I laughed about it when he told me on the first date, I really hadn’t known that was a thing, which he pointed out was a microaggression, and I felt so bad that I did let him stay the night even though I really don’t usually do that. He got annoyed with me right away when I said I wasn’t into choking during sex, because, since the cloaca is also the sex hole for turtles, all base-level-vanilla turtle sex is choking sex. I realized pretty quickly I can’t compete with other testudines, so I tried to make up for it in other ways, like cleaning his apartment, calling his cable company for him, getting itemized lists from his insurance company. In retrospect, I guess, I became more of an assistant than a lover, which you or he could blame on me too, but I was just trying and trying. 

This is what I mean about lacking perfection. Like, I was doing too much. My friends kept telling me, especially Allie–– Allie only dates soldiers and clowns because they both make her laugh when they tell her what they’re passionate about. She’s kind of a psycho, at least I think so. But maybe I wouldn’t say that if I knew how to talk to either soldiers or clowns. I met Allie in a creative writing class when I thought I was gonna be the next Fitzgerald and she thought she was gonna find her word-Picasso so she could play Dora Maar. I pointed out to her that she could just be Zelda, but then she took it as me coming on to her since I’d mentioned Fitzgerald and so I let it go. Let her find her soldier-clown-word-Picasso, and leave me out of it. 

When I used to tell her about the turtle, though, her lips got really tight and she accused me of bestiality, but that’s just not the case. This turtle is not like other turtles. Other turtles can’t talk and have no understanding of philosophy or science or love, and they don’t get drunk and come home late at night, and they don’t get jealous of your sister’s friend who is a personal trainer, even though he’s gay, and then other turtles don’t make fun of that gay friend for being gay due to their own insecurities and their bloated, sluggish bodies heaving them down, low to the ground, making them heavy, so heavy that they complain loudly about being heavy and then get on top anyway, and it’s up to you to to say oh no I’m fine, no you’re not heavy, even as you can’t breathe, you really can’t while they’re topping you. Other turtles can’t do that! They don’t. Although, Allie might have had a point, since other turtles also don’t care if I live or die. 

The turtle didn’t seem to notice, especially when, as I mentioned before, he stumbled back into his apartment, on all fours, at three in the morning. I was usually on his couch since he would have sent a u up? text at around one AM, and I mean, I wasn’t really doing anything, and anyway, this time could be nice, but of course it never was, and he’d nudge me with everything about himself bloated and strange, just strange, what a strange one, this turtle. 

My mom also wasn’t really on board with this whole turtle thing. The first thing you should know about my mom is that she’s thin; the second thing you should know about my mom is that she loves smoothies. The turtle liked to compliment her on having smoothies, because smoothies have a lot of fruit and he was a big fan of fruit. He’s a turtle. The thing is, he took my mom liking smoothies really personally, like she had smoothies around him to prove to him that she did in fact love smoothies and fruit like him, but that’s not true. The truth is that my mom just likes smoothies. It was just one of those things that hinted to me that maybe the turtle was not the love of my life. 

One night, when I was lying beside the turtle, he asked me, hey do you think it’s weird how far apart our age gap is? And I said, what do you mean? And he said well, you’re 19, and I’m 21. Isn’t that weird? And I said, well, no I don’t think so, I mean, that’s only three, no wait two–– two years, and then the turtle was quiet, very quiet, and we fell asleep. 

Another time, when I was lying beside the turtle, the turtle finished but I didn’t so I waited a bit and we talked for a little while and then I asked, hey could we go again? And the turtle said, hm maybe after we meditate and he pulled out his phone and lured me to sleep with a meditation app module, and when I woke up in the morning I felt weirdly violated but on a cerebral level. 

One time the turtle asked me my race and I told him and then I asked him what kind of turtle he was and he didn’t understand my question and I said like oh are you this kind of turtle or this kind of turtle, you know –– for example, snapping or softshell or box –– and he got offended, but I still don’t know if he got offended because I asked or because I really just didn’t know in the first place. He’s a turtle, I don’t know anything about turtles except that none of them care if I live or die.