Sunday, January 4, 2015

Fiction: Family Outings

I can jot down my personal version of the truth or I can tell you outright lies, and I'll call it fiction if I want to.

After all, it's what I do.

I could tell you about the time I rode my daddy's shoulders out to the sand bar at Savannah Beach in Georgia, where the nurse sharks were circling.

I was seven when that happened. He'd lifted me up and headed straight for the beasts with all the excitement he'd exuded when that fox in Alaska came trotting down the ice-covered road. It's bright red fur stood in stark contrast to the dull, gray snow. My daddy made me whisper as we watched it perk its ears left and then right and then skitter away, frightened by the presence of humans. Not humanity, mind you--just your typical, dirty rotten humans.

The sharks were less peculiar. They circled us in the warm, clear water, closing in with each orbit. Soon enough, my daddy was able to extend his arm so the nurse sharks could swim under his fingers. I watched them caress the smooth lengths of those fearsome fish. He never flinched, and neither did they. They seemed in perfect harmony.

 The rest of the family ignored us from the safe sands of the beach. What did they care about nurse sharks when there were crabs to be chased, castles to be built?

The breeze bounced across the surface of the sea and tickled past me, causing me to shiver. My daddy wrapped a strong hand around my ankle to steady me. Or maybe to scare me. I couldn't tell.
It was the kind of gesture dad's do, you know. The good ones, anyway, and my daddy had been pretty good for a while by then.

Or maybe he had only been pretending.

I had that crystal moment of clarity right there on his shoulders in the center of a swarm of nurse sharks. I realized I was at his mercy. He could use his strength to protect me, steady me, keep me squarely on his shoulders until we made our way back to the shore.

Or he could toss me in.

And I knew he just might be crazy enough to do it. And it might serve me right that he was finally paying me back for that thing I'd done the year before.

You know.

When I shot him.


  1. Despite my irrational fear of sharks, what with living in a landlocked state and all, I know nurse sharks are pretty benign. Be that as it may, this story terrified me, but that last line was fantastic.

    1. Thanks. I like that last line too.
      My irrational fish fear is the barracuda.
      They just look like they're thinking how delicious I am.

  2. Never saw it coming. Whether you wrote to it or it was there all along, you've made O. Henry happy.

    1. O. Henry...hmmm, that's something to think about. I like writing stories with a shocking last line or an unexpected twist, but I would never compare myself to O. Henry.

  3. Some sharks are scary, some are not. Maybe humanity is so rotten that the sharks don't want to eat us anymore?

    Cold As Heaven

    1. I should have written this for Discovery's Shark Week. I wonder why I always have these brilliant ideas way too late.