Shark’s Eye: The more I learned about the pain humans can cause each other, the more I turned to sharks

Rebecca Flowers in Guernica:

It was the year that my sister, feeling depressed and isolated, swallowed an entire bottle of pills. For that day, and perhaps a few days afterward, my brain stopped making memories. There are fragments that float to the surface. The doctor telling us she might have ruined her kidneys forever. The image of a scene I hadn’t actually witnessed: the plastic pill bottle falling from my sister’s limp hands and clattering to the tile floor. The blur of an ambulance ride. The clearest memory I have is from a few weeks later: I am doing homework by my sister’s hospital bed, she in her hospital gown, my uniform still on from the school day.

Three years later, my parents split up. In the fallout, my sister went to live with my father. I stayed with my mother, who was heartbroken. I tried to comfort her, but by now all I knew was how to be quiet.

…The more I learned about the world of humans — the pain they can cause each other, the fighting and the guilt — the more I turned to sharks. I caught a Shark Week special depicting the rash of shark attacks in the summer of 1916 that had inspired Jaws. I watched eyewitness videos and documentaries about marine biologists. I grew on a diet of encyclopedias and books filled with Latin names and anatomically correct illustrations of sharks.

More here.