Family in a Bottle
Message in a Bottle Short Story
Walking down the beach was one of Sarah’s favorite things to do. She lived in a busy city, and while she loved it, it was nice to take some time and slow down every once in a while. That’s why she kept a small apartment near the ocean.
Every few months she would take a few days off of work to escape for some peace and quiet. In the mornings she liked to do yoga on the beach, and in the afternoons she would work on her novel she was trying to write; she was on chapter four.
It was after dinner and Sarah was strolling along the beach. The sun was starting to set and, surprisingly, there was no one else there but a few seagulls.
She looked down into the shallow water, trying to see if there were any shells she could take back to her apartment, or any crabs she could poke at. Sarah was admiring a particularly large crab when something just a little more off shore caught her eye.
Sunlight was reflecting off of something, and if Sarah had been wearing sunglasses, she would have missed it. The object looked like a piece of glass.
Deciding to ditch the crab, Sarah ran out towards the glass. Something told her this was going to be way cooler than a giant crab or a cool looking shell.
Sarah was nearly waist deep, but she didn’t care. She was too focused on the object in the ocean. She reached out her hand, waiting for a wave to bring the glass closer. However, she misjudged the size of the wave and toppled over.
Washing up on the beach, Sarah was worried that she had lost the glass. She looked everywhere, hoping that the sun would give away its location, but the sun had just set.
She was about to give up, when something washed up at her feet. Sarah felt overjoyed when she realized it was the glass from earlier. However, it wasn’t just a big piece of glass. It was a bottle that had a piece of paper in it.
Sarah had always dreamed of finding a message in a bottle, and quickly picked it up before the surf could wash it away again. She didn’t want to risk dropping whatever was in the bottle into the ocean so she ran back to her apartment before opening it.
Ripping open the door, she carefully set the bottle on the table so she could change out of her wet clothes. Sarah moved as fast as she could so she could examine the bottle more closely.
The sun had tinted the glass a light purple and the cork was dark brown. Other than that, the bottle was very plain, probably an old alcohol bottle, and obviously pretty old.
The cork was stuck, so Sarah went into the kitchen go find her corkscrew. After carefully removing it, she tipped the bottle upside-down to get the piece of paper out.
Sarah carefully smoothed out the piece of paper on the table and then realized there was something on both sides. On one side there was a navy rank with the name Scott. Underneath the name was a small message that said, “If found, please return to this address so I can buy you a drink.” The address was underneath.
On the other side there was a drawing of a man and a woman standing on a boat. Surprisingly, the two people looked remarkably like her grandparents. It made sense; her grandfather’s name was Scott, and he was in the navy. However, he was dead. Her grandmother was still alive, though.
Sarah decided to call her mother, and after talking for over an hour it was confirmed that the bottle was, in fact, from her grandfather. She was told that he had once found a message in a bottle and wanted to send one out to see where it would end up. He put his address there in hopes of meeting someone from a completely different place. But it was so long ago, the address wasn’t correct anymore.
Sarah hadn’t seen nor talked to her grandmother in years. She couldn’t remember why they didn’t talk, but she was nervous. Deciding to be brave, Sarah picked up her cell phone and dialed in the number for her grandmother that her mom gave her.
It rang a few times and she recognized her grandmother’s voice on the other end. “Hello?”
“Hey, Gram, it’s me. Sarah.”
“Sarah?! Sarah, my granddaughter, who hasn’t called me in years?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry Gram, but I have to tell you something…I found Papa’s message in a bottle he sent out…the one with the drawing of you two…”
The line was silent for a moment, and then her grandmother spoke again. “Where are you?”
“I’m in California. I have an apartment by Long Beach.”
“That’s near where your grandfather was stationed. He really wanted someone to find it.”
Her voice was quivering Sarah could tell her grandmother was trying not to cry. She had never felt so awkward in her life, but she kept talking. “Will you tell me about it? About his time in the navy? He never told me about when he was stationed in California.”
Sarah was afraid that her grandmother would get angry, angry for not calling her since he died. They never had the relationship that Sarah and her grandfather had. After he died, Sarah stopped calling.
To Sarah’s surprise, her grandmother obliged, and they ended up talking on the phone for hours. Sarah forgot that she moved back to California after her grandfather died, and the two made plans for lunch. Her grandmother promised to tell more stories about her grandfather. Apparently he was a little more adventurous than he let on, and Sarah was happy to be able to reconnect with her grandmother.
more by CASSIE GAMMIE
photograph by Brian Mann