Turtle Soup

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Based on the riddle "turtle soup".

A man walks into a restaurant. His beard and hair are shaggy, as if they were not trimmed in a while. He has a cane in one hand and a hat in the other. He has on dark glasses and taps the cane in front of him. He is blind. No one follows behind him. He is alone. A waiter guides him to a table.

He sits at the small table. The waiter asks if he is ready to order. The man asks for turtle soup.

The soup is brought. The man eats a spoonful. Then he stops. He takes another sip and calls the waiter over. The man claims that this is not turtle soup. Confused, the waiter asks the manager. The manager confirms that it is turtle soup. The man continues to claim that it is not turtle soup as tears fall from his face.

He picks up his belongings and rushes out of the restaurant without paying his bills. The waiter and manager curiously watch him leave.


The man and his family are deserted on an uninhabited island. Food is difficult to come by, and the man’s blindness keeps him from helping the family scavenge for food. Everyday, his wife and three children gather near him and share the little food they find. Sometimes roots, sometimes wild fruits, and on special days, meat from wild animals.

One day, their youngest child becomes sick. He constantly coughs and is warm to the touch. His fever does not break after three days, and without medicine, the family has no way to help him.

On the fourth day after the child’s sickness, the man wakes up and does not hear the child’s coughing. Worried, he calls his wife over. He asks her where the child is. She says that the child woke up feeling better, so he is playing outside with the other children. He is relieved and tells her to make sure the child doesn’t overextend himself.

That night, the wife makes the exciting news that the children have caught a turtle in their nets. The man holds back his excitement and asks if the children have eaten. The wife says that there is more than enough for the family, and the children have eaten and gone to bed. The man, satisfied with this answer, asks what she has prepared. She says that the dinner tonight is turtle soup.

For the next few days, the man eats well. Whenever he asks, his wife says that the children are eating well and are looking healthier. Every time he eats, he thanks the turtle who died to feed his family. But after a few days, they run out of soup. Too excited about eating well, the family had forgotten to stock their resources while there was a food surplus. Again, the family began to starve. Too spoiled by the short abundance of food, the hunger seemed greater than before.

However, the man was happy that the family had gotten the energy to keep going on. And so the days passed. The children’s voices outside seemed quieter than usual. The man accredited this to his loss of hearing or the children’s hunger.

A few weeks later, the wife excitedly says that another turtle was caught in the trap. The man, now thin and frail, receives the news with great elation.

This time, the family rations the meal carefully and focuses on gathering other food sources. However, after well-rationing the turtle soup, a foul smell arose from the soup. Focused too much on rationing and gathering, the family had forgotten to preserve what was left of the soup. To rid their shelter of the smell, the wife set the pot of stew outside.

The family managed the next few days with what little they gathered in the past week. While hunger was unavoidable, it was not as torturous as last time.

The man woke up one night to the sound of vomiting. He called out to see who it was. His eldest son called back. Worried, the man felt his way to the source of the sound. The son stopped him before he could saying he would get vomit on him. The son told the man not to worry. However, the man called out to his wife to wake her and check on him.

After giving the son a drink and putting him in bed, the wife told the husband that out of hunger, the son had eaten the rotten turtle soup. She said it looked like he had eaten a lot. He was going to be sick for a couple days.

Too sick to move, the son was unable to look for food. Unable to wander on his own, the man could not gather food for the family nor take care of his sick son. And unable to leave the sick son and the blind husband alone, the wife could not leave the shelter either. The man asked his two other children to go and search for nearby eatables, but the wife stopped him saying they were too young and small to go out on their own. Their youngest son was barely three, and their daughter was small for her age. The starvation made them even weaker.

The next few days, the family starved. To fend off hunger, the family slept as much as they could. And on the fifth day after this fast, the man woke up to the wife saying the son was well enough to stand. He and the other children went to check the traps. The man was relieved that his son was better, but he cursed his blindness that hindered his family’s survival.

That night, the wife said the children had brought the biggest turtle yet. This time, they would preserve and ration it. The man, still scorning himself, could not receive the news with great joy. He refused to eat that night and the next morning.

The wife, the next evening, said the children are worrying about their father; they are afraid that they have angered him. Not willing to worry his family because of his personal emotions, he ate that night. After being famished for almost a week, the man gorged on the soup. Then, hit by a feeling of guilt for gluttonizing their food, he again refused to eat his share of the food.

A couple days later, a rescue ship arrived the island. At this point, the man was malnourished and starving to the point of unconsciousness. The rescue team hurriedly took him to the medics. Before fully losing consciousness, the man asked the team about his wife and children. He is unable to see the medics’ confused looks. They told him that everything is fine and will be okay.

After the man’s conditions was stable, the exhausted medics stepped out for a break.

“Did they ever find his children?” one of the medics asked.

“We buried the dead wife, but there were no signs of the children,” another medic responded. “He must be delirious from starvation.”

Submitted: April 20, 2018

© Copyright 2023 EtaK. All rights reserved.

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