Denise Brown tapped frantically on her friend Astrid’s shoulder to get her attention. Astrid Maxxim’s focus, like the focus of her underwater camera, was fixed on the bright orange starfish, which rested on the top of the coral outcropping as if waiting for its picture to be taken. Astrid snapped a photo before turning to see what was agitating her dive partner. Denise pointed at the shark, and then to make sure that she was getting the message across, made a fin with her hand and put it on top of her head. Astrid held up her fingers about an inch apart in the universal symbol for small. Denise shook her head violently and shot up toward the surface.
In exasperation, Astrid blew out bubbles around her regulator, and then kicked her way back up to the surface of the Mediterranean. She spat out her mouthpiece and pulled the dive mask up onto her forehead.
“We’ve got fifteen minutes left before we’re done,” she said.
“Shark!” shouted Denise, scrambling up the ladder that hung from the side of the small boat.
“Shark?” said Toby Bundersmith, who was waiting topside. He threw aside his Batman comic and helped Denise up the ladder. “That’s lucky. I was hoping to see a shark when I was in the water, but I didn’t.”
“Come on, Denise,” called Astrid. “I still haven’t got a picture of a lobster yet.”
“There is a shark!”
“It’s only a little one,” said Astrid. “It is more afraid of you than you are of it.”
“That’s not possible,” said Denise. “And it wasn’t little. It was big—large, hefty, colossal, enormous, gigantic, mammoth, massive, oversized, tremendous, vast.”
Astrid tossed the camera up to Toby. “It was little—tiny, inconsequential, minuscule, petite, teeny, undersized, microscopic, miniature, did I say miniature already, no? runty, bitty, wee.”
“Come on,” said Toby, holding his hand down for Astrid. “I’m getting bored up here anyway. Let’s go in and have lunch.”
“Hurry up and get in the boat before that shark gets you,” said Denise, helping Astrid up.
“Honestly,” said Astrid. “It was the size of a dachshund.”
“I got bit by a wiener dog once and had to have five stitches,” replied Denise. “He didn’t have shark’s teeth either, just regular dog teeth.”