The Bottle

Story on a theme: Bottle

Darby Winslow always displayed a flair for the dramatic. At seven years of age he wandered off from the family beach excursion to travel the world and disappeared for nearly twenty four hours. During his adventure he found an old bottle with a cork buried beneath some dried out palm leavings. Having found no way to open a coconut, his only source of food, he thought for sure he was a goner. With his last piece of paper and a broken crayon he’d saved to try and fix once they got home, he scribbled out his SOS message, resealed the cork snugly into the bottle and threw it back out into the lagoon.

The bottle floated unmoved, as if suspended with opposing forces laying siege to it from all directions . Darby picked up a big rock and threw it into the water close to the bottle, hoping the ripples would send it on its way. The bottle only inched out a fraction further into the water. Eventually Darby became bored and wandered back to the beach front where he remained until he was rescued the following day.

Slowly the bottle ebbed and flowed until it finally reached the tidal current. The tide happened to be heading out at that precise moment and the bottle bobbed under the water's pull as it headed out to sea.

The bottle remained in the shipping lane for countless months as it worked its way further and further out to sea until the wake from a large container vessel pushed it into a secondary current where it ultimately drifted out of the shipping lanes and into a vast unvisited portion of the ocean where it floated lifelessly under a scorching sun for years uncounted.

One day a tropical storm sparked to life from the South and as the sky blackened into a false night, waves grew and circled from a wind that was berthed under the conditions. Each wave pushed the bottle out of its invisible cell and further along its random pathway. Eventually the bottle hit another shipping lane and followed the tide until a trawler scooped it up during a fishing excursion.

Back at port, one of the fishermen untangled the bottle from the netting and plopped it off the back of the boat where it floated under the dock until it was picked up by a homeless man scavenging for recycling revenues in the hopes of a hot meal.

At the recycling center, the temporary volunteer for the day thought the bottle interesting looking and scooped it off the conveyer belt bound for glass crushing and ultimate meltdown. She took the bottle back to her beach home and placed it on her back deck as a garden d├ęcor piece.

A fall hurricane broke over the beach barrier and took the beach house into the sea; battering every possession the woman owned among the rocks and debris. The bottle got carried back out to sea and drifted for years until finally coming to rest on the beach shore.

Darby Winslow grew up with an insatiable urge to travel and explore the world but at the age of seventeen got his girlfriend pregnant. Though friends and family were against it, he married young and settled down to raise his unexpected son. Though the years were tough, they had somehow bucked the odds and stayed happily married. He taught Geography for twenty-five years before retiring himself. His son had grown up and gone off to serve his country but caught a land mine during his final three months on tour and died alone, thousands of miles from his family and friends.

The news had hit Darby and his wife hard. They spent years working through their grief only to be besieged by the deaths of their parents, one by one until there were none left to care for. The final straw came when his wife passed away in a terrible drowning accident at their beach house.

Darby often went for walks along the beach after the incident; grieving that all he had and all he cared about were gone. It had been exactly a year to the day that his wife passed away that he noticed a bottle washed up on the sand. He pulled it off the beach and inspected it. The bottle was quite old and there seemed to be something inside it. Opening up the green stained bottle, his face flushed as he read the inscription penned in crayon.

“I am lost, do not forget me. Darby Winslow”

That evening, he pulled his suitcase from the attic where it had been collecting dust for over forty years and made one-way airline reservations bound for the unknown.

18 comments:

Brian Miller said...

what a wicked cool story...amazing job on the theme...perhaps we all need those wake up calls...

Alan Burnett said...

Fascinating story and a great Theme Thursday post.

Lorenzo said...

Great stuff, Ed. Perhaps all those messages we put in bottles are truly for our own consumption.

anthonynorth said...

Cleverly done. Sometimes the past reaches us and offers things anew.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

entertaining post and clever take on bottle and 'a message in the bottle' & appreciate lorenzo's expressed insight on how your tale shows that perhaps those messages are for ourselves

California Girl said...

Well conceived and written. I had to finish it.

Darby should travel inland.

willow said...

Loved the surprise ending! Well done.

Dreamhaven said...

Wonderfully sad and well written.
Come on back to my blog, if you would. I finished revising my post.

Titanium said...

Real live shivers ran down my spine, reading this. Will not forget this piece or its message... that is guaranteed.

Mine is here.

Stephanie said...

Nicely done!

otin said...

very twisty! I loved it!

Nessa said...

Very nice. We should all be given such reminders.

One Single Impression - Insomnia

Maha said...

A beautiful story indeed. I loved the sequence of the events ;)

tony said...

We Are All Linked albeit in an invisible fashion.Bravo Sir !
[Im off to see the Portland band Richmond Fontaine tonight!]

monica said...

very nice, thank you

Mrsupole said...

Very sad to be left all alone. And funny that no one opened the bottled to see what was inside. A treasure meant for one.

God bless.

CatLadyLarew said...

And here I am, months later, finally reading this story. I hope Darby's out there somewhere, traveling the world!

gab said...

I can almost see my life just like that Lost when I was little and lost again some day I'll be! really close to home.