All About Penguins by Kay Winnit

By Kay Winnit

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Each tooth was a holstered weapon waiting to replace a tooth lost in battle. Far back on each side of the massive head, gill flaps fluttered open and shut, letting in flickering rays of light. A millisecond before the mouth would have banged into the cage, the great white bit down and was rammed forward by a sudden thrust of its powerful tail. The upper teeth struck four inches from my face. They scraped noisily—horribly—against the aluminum bars. Then the lower teeth gnashed quickly, looking for something solid to sink into.

There were monster titles: Leviathan, Leviathan Rising, The Jaws of Leviathan. There were White Death and The Jaws of Death and Summer of the Shark. My father contributed Wha's That Noshin’ on My Laig? Finally I said, “Look, there's no way we're gonna agree on a title. There's only one word we both like, so let's make that the title. ” Tom thought for a moment, then nodded. ” I called my father and told him the title. ” he asked. “I have no idea,” I said. ” I called Roberta and told her the title.

It was coming straight at me, slowly, deliberately, unhurried, emerging from the mist. I stopped breathing—not intentionally but reflexively, as if by stopping my breath I could stop all movement. I heard my pulse hammering in my ears. I wasn't afraid, exactly. I had been afraid, before, on the boat, but by now I had passed through fear. I was in a state of excitement and something like shocked disbelief. There it is! Feel the pressure in the water as the body moves through it. The size of it! My God, the size!

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