Walking alone early one morning, the waves splashing over my ankles, the sun just beginning to rise, I saw a bottle washed up and half-buried in the sand with what looked like a slip of paper inside. My senses heightened. My body tensed. I had always wanted to find a message in a bottle, and now, finally at age forty-one, I had one in my sights.
Who had sent it? A man stranded on his lifeboat in the middle of the ocean? A Portuguese child hoping to make a friend? A young woman betrayed by her lover and hoping to start anew somewhere — anywhere — far away?
What would it say? Could I even read it? “What if it is in a different language?” I wondered.
I raced to scoop up the vessel before anyone else saw it. Though I was the only person in sight, the bottle spurred my paranoia. I did not want miss my chance!
The cap was brown and brittle and corroded with rust. The glass cloudy with a hint of green but still vaguely translucent.
I removed the cap, flipped the bottle over, and watched the letter fall to the sand. Picking it up my hands shook. This moment could change everything. I unrolled the letter.
“No, not you,” it said.
All I could do was roll up the letter and place it back inside the bottle.
Heaving it into the ocean, I continued my morning walk.