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by Daniel Braum

“Be careful,” Natalia says. “The shark doesn’t bite, but it’s jagged down there.” Her boyfriend gathers her up like a possession. I shrug this off and grab my mask.

It’s an eight-foot nurse shark just sitting there under the broken hurricane wall just like she said. To see it you have to dive about nine feet or so and hold onto the bottom of the concrete, pull yourself down and hold your breath long enough for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.

The guy next to me is trying to get my attention. Pointing at me. A trail of blood trickles up to the surface. It takes me a few long seconds to realize it’s coming from my hand. I must have cut it on the barnacled, rusty piece of rebar I’d been holding on to. Before I let myself go up, I sense the shark is not alone. Something is with it in the darkness.


That night, I’m in my room, listening to the night sounds of my happy neighbors as I drift asleep. Soon as I turn the lights out, I sense that presence.

My eyes adjust and I see a shark in the corner, standing upright, like a man. It’s saying something. All garbled. Lost in translation. But I get the sense it’s a command. I turn on the lights but it doesn’t disappear. I can see its jagged teeth and jaw moving as it repeats its command.

My cut hand is throbbing. I look at the bandage, then I’m alone in the room. Except for dozens of ants chaotically fleeing the corner instead of marching to my waste basket in neat lines as usual.
I go outside for air. Natalia is alone on her steps having a smoke.

“You too.” she says. It isn’t a question.

“Yeah,” I say.

They’re leaving tomorrow. I have another few weeks on the island planned. But what about everyone else?

In my head I hear the sound the shark was making. Was it saying, “go”?

My throbbing hand tells me it’s a warning.


A cut above!

Posted by: Carlos | January 30, 2008 2:35 PM

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