Two red-eared slider turtles. How did they end up at the pond in the park? The male comes crawling out of the water with a swollen, pulsating throat sac, showing that he can catch prey – he has her attention, the female turns the bright-red patch on the side of her head towards him. The approach begins here. She sets off at a slow pace. Part of her cloaca becomes visible under the edge of her shell with every step she takes. She knows he will follow. The park around the pond is densely overgrown in May. The water speedwell is already flowering, opening the lips of her calyx for a budding fruit. She sees herself walking under the lilac petals, tightly stretched and veined with blue, the swaying motion of her hips, the trembling dewdrops on the bracts, she knows he will follow. The male is considerably smaller and therefore slower than the female turtle. He must not let her get away. Not stumble over the runners of the pennywort. He has her attention, even though she is not looking back. Through the water pimpernel, fleshy green with egg-shaped leaves, he follows the languid, yellow lines on her buttocks and calves, her bobbing shell. Under the light-loving brass buttons, she slows, turns to look at him. He catches up a little. Once he is closer, he shows her, accurately, his bright-red cheek. Standstill. Only now does the courtship begin. It is up to him to reduce the remaining space between them. He is still not sure if she is indeed in search of his embrace. Eagerness can be deceptive, but this matter must be decided, so he thrusts out his claws, and his claws are long, and he sees that she sees just how long his claws are. With a front leg, he scratches, slowly enough, through the sand. The lines left by his scratch move in trembling traces across her throat. Can the patch of red on her cheek become even fuller, even deeper? She hopes he cannot tell by looking at her. Shame sends her shooting away, downhill, off the sloping bank and into the water, and now the male begins to suspect that this will end well. He dives too, follows her to the pond bed, less wary of her now that she has not yet said ‘yes,’ but has at least said ‘here.’ In the water, the difference in size plays tricks on him again. Her sturdy calves kick her onwards, ahead of him, faster than he can follow. The languid stepping has given way to an underwater hunt. His entire body thrashes wildly to and fro, but the weight of his shell hinders him, it must look quite touching, a floundering, determined lover, he will not let her get away. She swims in a sinuous dance. Her longer legs make the female more agile. She approaches, pulls away and turns and dances. On one of her turns, the male succeeds in touching the back of her shell with his beak. She stops, looks around, gives him her red cheek again and, finally, the upper hand. The male swims up until he is above and in front of her, not releasing her gaze, puts his face opposite hers. In this floating stasis, the two turtles look at each other for some time, eye to eye, and behind the eye the bright-red patch that marks them out. He is the first to extend his front legs, to tense his itching claws. Will she fend him off or touch him? She reacts, spreads her front legs too. That is where she first feels his claws, light as a feather, electric, like the wingbeats of a dragonfly, he brushes his legs against hers. The tingling overwhelms her. A tremble passes through her entire body. How long can she take this for? She tries to push his legs – or are they fins, or feathers? – off her. Immediately he wraps his claws back around her. Around her neck now. He scratches and scratches. The female is afraid she will shake to pieces. Again she knocks his legs away, she has to, or else…, and this time she is faster, she wraps her front legs around his head. Her claws are shorter, no more than a tickle, but she wants to please him too, she wants him to feel the trembling and she claps her legs against his cheeks, as he did to her. In her grip, she pulls him closer. From this distance, the male can wrap his legs even further around her. His claws now creep towards her armpits, under the edge of her shell, over her head. In the pleasure of his scratching, her back legs relax, which makes her drift back a little, out of the embrace. The male digs into her skin, does not find a grip, the tips of his claws rattle against hers, and then he has no choice but to let go. The sudden absence of the trembling is merciless, but she also comes to her senses. Though the excitement is screaming throughout her entire soft body, she also knows where that leads. But then his shell is banging against her backside. The male is trying to penetrate her. He bulges out his organ. Black and heart-shaped, his lower abdomen swells. The size of his penis pulls his whole bottom half down, so it seems as if he is standing upright. In this position, he can move over her. The female attempts to kick out and away from underneath him, but again he is bumping against her shell, which has risen with the swelling of her cloaca – she curses his claws now that he is thrusting himself against her. The black slug sways along with increasing confidence. She tightens so as not to make an opening, but again he pushes against her, harder, and this time the organ sucks itself inside her, where it stays. Fire. She tries to free herself, but the more she pulls, the more he sucks himself into her. Inside her, the male turns himself onto his side, moving his lower body back and forth like a screw, and how long do minutes last until you run out of breath? It lasts until he lets go. In a straight line, he swims to the surface of the water. Greedy gulp of air. The female shoots off into the darkness among the plants on the bottom of the pond.