The in-between of fight or flight is fix, and that’s the inaction that my body chooses when I see the shark. I say body because it’s my nerves and blood and electricity that make the choice, not my head. I say shark, but the animal is so small that the letters rk do the heavy work of eliciting fear like in pitchfork, lurk, and darkness. Longer than a skateboard, width no thicker than my fist. There’s no fin above the jade ocean, but I see its curves swimming inches from me, my knees on the sand relishing in warmer water than last night’s shower. I’m surprised by my inertness—no pacing heart, just steady calm. Out of sight, and I doubt my eyes. No, no, its ends are too keen, edges cornered in tiny predator.
It feels outlandish to yell and disrupt the legs-interlaced couple or the teens tossing a rainbow beach ball. There are many people around me, but no one close, and my husband is on his tiptoes yards away. I want to decide what to do, but I realize my body has decided for me. There’s no danger. When my husband gets close, I whisper to him as the sun tingles our necks: “I just saw a baby shark.” All he does is say “Yeah?” and then kisses me. We don’t leave. I spread my arms wide and float, my body an intruder while the curious pup waits for me and legs and limbs to leave.
Victoria Buitron is an writer and translator who hails from Ecuador and resides in Connecticut. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Normal School, SmokeLong en Español, Southwest Review, and other literary magazines. A VONA fellow, her work has been selected for 2022’s Best Small Fictions and Wigleaf’s Top 50. Her debut memoir-in-essays, A Body Across Two Hemispheres, is the 2021 Fairfield Book Prize winner and available wherever books are sold.