San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

The silence of the sharks

There’s not much to say about the boy. He lives near the ocean, in a loft above his father’s woodworking shop, but his father’s not around much, and his mother’s been gone since before he could remember.

Time in one hand and mischief in the other form together in little projects—he’s no stranger to a sandpaper or saw. And so he creates wooden swords and knifes, but soon these become just as mundane as the tools that bore them. The boy requires a victim.

One day, while walking down the beach, he spots a sharpened blade slicing the surf—a shark’s fin. The boy knows he’s safe, but can’t help feeling a sense of dread descend upon him. He finds this newfound sense of danger alluring. A plan hatches in his mind. He scurries home to measure his chest and waist.

The first wooden fin is small, dense and heavy, though the leather straps fit snugly. The second fin towers so high above him he can’t keep it from tilting to one side or another. The third is perfect. He stuffs everything in a backpack and heads back for the beach. This time he ducks beneath the boardwalk.

With the fin tightened just so, he affixes goggles and gets into the water, bouncing from one barnacle-spiked pillar to the next until he’s far into the surf. He takes a deep breath, dives and swims out to the tourist beach.

Nobody buys into the scam. The boy can’t swim fast enough to make a wake behind the fin and the blue spray paint washes off in the sea. The beachgoers spot the boy’s head surfacing every few yards. Everyone has a good laugh at the boy. He swims back to the pier and abandons the fin.

Back inside his humid loft, the boy cringes when he remembers the bronzed girls pointing at him. The shame is hot and sticky, and in his exhaustion he sleeps shallowly. He knows he’s getting older. He’s finally at the age when a boy can truly understand regret.

The next morning it’s decided, he trashes all the half-finished schemes. He doesn’t want to do anything. He wants to be alone and unnoticed, and so he sits in his loft and wonders if he’s even capable of being loved.

No one misses him, save for the shark. Since the day she saw the boy, who graced the ocean with his glorious dorsal fin and strange strokes, thoughts of him consume her mind. She waits near the pier every day, hoping to see his gangly body cut through the water so she can be with him. After a few weeks, she begins to lose hope. After a month, she resigns to the fact that she will never see him again. After a year, she decides she must see him—no matter the cost. So she hatches a plan.

The next morning, she patrols the surf and picks out a slender girl with long black hair. The shark kills her. But she’s no brute—in fact, she doesn’t even break the skin when she bites down on the girl’s foot and drags her under.

She fits decently inside the girl’s skin. The shark’s friends help her put it on, and marvel at how good the disguise is. Under the cover of night, at high tide, the shark practices walking out of the sea. It takes a good while to get it right; the sand pulls down on her feet instead of giving slightly the way it does underwater.

“Things are very different on land,” the shark thinks to herself.

Finally, she masters the human gait. One day at noon, she decides to risk it and walks out of the water into crowds of people. No one gives her a second glance.

She searches and searches for the half-shark half-boy, but cannot find him. The human world ignores her. Men who were once terrified of her now leer at her. Some even try to assault her. These she eats. She continues searching for the boy.

One day while enjoying a cup of coffee and a cigarette outside a local cafe near the shore, the shark sees the boy. He wanders into the shop, young and beautiful—not half-shark, but she’s willing to accept him for his flaws.

But there’s another with him. A plain looking girl, but she makes him happy, apparent from the way he smiles at her. The shark feels sick. She runs off into the bathroom and vomits.

“Are you OK?” A voice calls from the next stall over.

“Yes,” the shark says, but she’s crying cold tears from her dead, black eyes, and the girl next to her can hear it in her voice.

“A bit of heartbreak?” the nice girl asks.

“I thought we’d be together, but he’s found someone.”

“I’m so sorry,” the girl says. She peeks her head over the stall.


The shark bursts out of the stall and grabs the girl’s shoulders. The girl pulls away but the shark won’t have it. She knocks the girl unconscious and begins to peel away her skin.

The boy knocks on the door. “Everything OK in there?” he calls.

“I’ll be with you in a moment,” the shark says, adjusting her new skin in the mirror.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
The silence of the sharks