Brief intro: This story is loosely based on an actual occurrence at our family vacation this summer. I had intended to include this telling of it in a short story (“The Murder Tree”) that I’ve written for an anthology. But a couple of beta readers didn’t think it contributed to the overall story, so it got 86ed. Hope you enjoy.

A Shark Story

Deddy and Momma decided to take us to Gulf Shores for a vacation. We never went on vacations. Not because we didn’t have the money for it. It just wasn’t something they were raised up doing. Anyways, they took us to the beach, and everything was going fine. I mean, we didn’t have all the fancy toys or umbrellas or nothing like some folks did. But there was sand and ocean, and we were having a good time. Me and my brothers was playing on the sandbar out a ways. Further than we were supposed to be. Momma and Deddy had told us not to go too far. They didn’t say why, but we knew. Deddy couldn’t swim — he was scared of water — and Momma couldn’t show him up. So she had to stay there alongside him. The story of her life really. Standing at his side come hell or high water.

So we were out on the sandbar playing. The water was about chest deep for me. I was four or so. But the two boys were bigger. All of a sudden, there was a big gray fin bearing right down on me. I couldn’t do nothing but pee myself. But Jeb sees it, and he snatches me up out of the water and pushes Buddy out of the way. It makes enough of a commotion that the shark makes a hard turn. It didn’t have a bite-sized snack in front of it anymore. It was going to have to work for its meal. And it wasn’t interested in putting in that much effort. The shark was close enough when it turned that its tail smacked Jeb right in the belly.

Momma and Deddy saw the whole thing. We hightailed it back to the beach, and they snatched us up and put us in the car. We drove all the way home to Walker County still in our swimsuits, itching from sand and dried saltwater. Deddy and Momma didn’t say a word for about the first hundred miles. And Buddy couldn’t stop talking about it. He thought it was the coolest thing that ever happened in his life. Might still think that. We never took another vacation after that.

If you’re interested in reading other flash fiction, you can find it here: “From the Morning’s First Thoughts” and “Something Black in the Stairwell”.