A Storyby Kay Exley Gunkel
Penelope cast the shrimp net, releasing the edge she held in her teeth almost simultaneously with the edge she held in her fingertips. The net floated in the air a moment, doily-like, and came down in a perfect circle on the dark surface of the water. It lay there until, pregnant with salty creek, it sank four feet to the bottom. Penelope hummed Widespread’s “Second Skin,” tap, tapping her foot, exhaling the words. This is the season. There’s love inside. Magic and glory. Colors you’re working with. She stood barefoot in the bow, one foot slightly forward, an arm extended in front of her with the net’s line looped around her wrist. She waited a few beats before tug, tugging at the line, pulling the net until its intricate laces tucked themselves into a pucker. When the net reached the surface, she lifted it into the bateau and fanned its edges until the caught shrimp fell at her feet.
She cast again, smiling a little at Savannah’s afternoon sun, humming, glancing at the snakeskin anklet on her forward foot, glad she was rid of the former boyfriend who gave it to her, but admiring, as always, the sharp colors of the skin and admiring too the way the boyfriend had waterproofed it.
The third time Penelope cast, her net came up empty. The tide was running too fast. She started her motor and headed back to the dock. She had work to do in her vegetable garden. And she wanted to get the shrimp on ice.