The Shark Is Scary Because It’s Fake

I will not swim alone in a pool. In the event that I do, which is seldom these days, I sense a presence in the deep end. It lurks at the furthest stretch of my periphery, where the goggles meet the whites of my eyes. I’m most vulnerable when I turn back towards the shallow end. I lose sight of my surroundings for a brief flash of teeth. The shallow end is safer, preferably with my back to the wall and the whole pool within view. My eyes trace the bottom’s gradual downward slope opening to the feeding ground. The shark waits for me to stop believing. I swim in the ocean without fear. The sandy murk and low visibility are real. Nebulous shadows are clumps of eel grass churning with the tide. I’m a guest in nature. The shark will appear in the pool, the false security its price of admission. It isn’t a sleek blue predator from National Geographic but the off-color patches of rubber that comprise the shark of Jaws 4. It approaches bloated and insentient with glossy eyes that sense no movement or register thought. The gaping mouth doesn’t smell of rotted fish. The teeth should bend as they press into my flesh, or snap as brittle old plastic does from time to time. Instead they dive deep. Deep as I would into the pool, if I ever swam there.

Simon Nagel is a writer from California that now finds himself in the UK. His work has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Skyway Journal and Taco Bell Quarterly, among others. He’s finishing a novel.

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