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They spin small circles and slide in the sway of the boat and come toward me.
I jump to my feet and stumble away. Reincarnation! Revenge! Jaws! I don’t care if Ba never takes me to the sea again. I don’t care if he thinks that I can never be tough like him.
Ba stands up, walks over, and crouches down to have a better look at the white creatures. His brows drop. Jaw relaxes. “Just baby sharks,” he says and strokes one’s rising head to calm it down. With the same ease, Ba pulls me next to him, his fingers firm around my wrist, but not iron clasped like when he holds me down for the whipping. I swallow a mouthful of air and take a big step toward the babies.
They are thinner than my wrists and not much longer than chopsticks. They struggle in their mother’s slime as she did in the net. No big heads, boxy jaws, or blade-looking fins. If they hadn’t wriggled, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that they had tails. I’m glad that their tiny mouths are closed, even though they must be toothless like newborns.
“Ba—” I glance at the bait box and then at the mackerel skeletons in the bucket. Ma makes the meanest cold shark salad, but never does she use baby sharks.
Without a word, Ba guides my hand under the babies’ smooth bellies. Their eyes are slightly open, not wide or fierce like their mother’s.
One by one, we scoop each baby up and lay it into the sea.
The first shark swims into the halo made by the cabin light. The second follows, and then the third.