She couldn’t believe it, a message in a bottle! When do those ever actually happen?
Her sketchers sinking into the wet earth, she crouched to get a better look at the glass voyager. When she determined it wasn’t carrying any stinging passengers or slimy gook, she went to pick it up. Carefully she tugged the bottle, scratched and scored from its travels, from the sand.
With it free, she looked around. Were there any little kids or lonely hearts around who had maybe just thrown this in and the tide rudely brought it back? But no, she was alone as usual on her 5am run along the dunes. Daufuskie Island worked long into the night, but did not rise until the sun had settled nice and high.
Tara had not always been an early riser, but something about having the waves and stars to herself made her move the long runs of her training schedule to match the first ebb of the morning. And now, mysterious find in hand, she was glad she did.
She peered out towards Savannah, then back to Hilton Head. This bottle could have come from one of the island’s neighbors. She tried to subdue her excitement with this thought. But the bottle had that old-timey shape, and the amber hue she’d seen in museums, so the subduing was not very successful.
The rest of her miles forgotten, she plopped onto the sand and unlaced her shoes. Moments like these required comfort and concentration. If time really worked circular as her sister suspected, she sent a wish that young single-digit mermaid-obsessed Tara knew they’d find something special like this one day.
She paused Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’ on her phone, pulled the headphones from her ears. Of course she had to take a picture at each step. Before popping the cork, after the cork, pulling the paper out, etc. However, the after-the-cork shot would have to wait, because it was stuck. Very stuck. Tara had fought with many a cork before, but that was when rescuing wine from a bottle, so there were usually tools around.
Instead of the grand POP, there was a chipping away of cork that would’ve been embarrassing if anyone was around to see. Then a hideous smell, because it turned out a tiny crab had been the unfortunate companion to the encased paper. This was not the cute moment she imagined happening in Hallmark movies.
Still, she was in. Time to see what magical, beautiful words had been waiting for years to be heard.
Timothy, you utter louse. I hope to God this letter finds you ill, sunburnt, and dying painfully.
Well then. Tara sighed, not a damn thing like the Hallmark movies, then.
You think leaving me on this Godforsaken patch of sea spit is going to keep you safe from my wrath? Ha! When my father sees I did not return, he’ll make the correct assumption that I went off with a dirty pirate, and guess what? He will know exactly which one too.
That’s right. You told me not to leave a note, but I did. It did not occur to me then such an instruction was so you would not leave a trail. I thought it was for a more muskateering reason- perhaps not to further break my mother’s heart, or to give us enough time to escape before they knew in which direction to search.
But my heart was young just moments ago, so I did leave a note. I told my mother who had stolen my heart. I wished my sister would find someone who filled them in the same way you did me. I prayed my father and brothers would find a way to forgive us both.
Now I wish all the opposite. You did indeed steal my heart, but instead of fulfilling promises, I received empty oaths. I pray the men of our family hunt you to the ends of the earth. And whether it is for my reputation, or anger at the alliance potential of my marriage lost, I do care not. Whatever puts your blood on the end of their sword, or your last breath on their bullet, satisfies me.
“Oh dear Lord,” Tara looked up from the yellow, cracking page. This was a far cry from what she’d imagined. She reached out into the wind and tried to pull back her wish. Eight-year-old Tara did not need to know about this disappointment any sooner than necessary. She hoped she caught it in time, or even better, that her sister was just a crazy hippy and time was liner after all.
And you know what? Lord Walton had two horse stables and more hair on his chest than you could dream of.
Drown slowly, you pimpled liar.
Sincerely, Everlyn Anne Bilonton of the English Bilontons
“Well.” Tara looked around, hoping there was someone she could throw her hands up with.
“Well then.” She rolled the paper back up, tapped it back into its glass envelope. Part of her wanted to throw it back in the ocean as punishment for disappointing her. Another part wanted to research the Bilonton family and see if Everlyn got the revenge she sought. A third part of her was just angry that she’d sat down to read instead of finishing her run. She’d been at a good pace, and this angry letter put her in too foul a mood to start again.
So she shuffled back to her apartment, left her sandy shoes on the porch.
The house smelled like coffee, which meant Caitlin was up and cooking breakfast, thank God. As Tara climbed the short steps to the kitchen landing, she heard the soft sizzle of what would be sausages, and hopefully toast to go with it.
Tara wrapped her arms around her short girlfriend at the stove, snuggled her sweaty face into the curve of Caitlin’s neck.
Tara shook her head.
“Find anything good?”
Tara often brought Caitlin pretty shells from the beach, or a sea fossil, anything interesting that said “thought of you.” But now she just shot a glare at the bottle on the table. It waited there for explanation, research. Its anger made her angry. She knew the childish disappointment in her chest was ridiculous, but this was just further confirmation that she was no magical being in a fairytale, and those reminders sting humans, no matter how old they get.
“No,” Tara kissed Catilin’s cheek and started toward the shower, “nothing good, not a damn thing.”
Disillusioned (adjective): Disappointed in someone or something that one discovers to be less good than one had believed.
It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m a big dreamer! I have the big dreams (writing an award winning, acclaim achieving novel), and the little dreams (holding an owl), and all those little etherial ones that come and go when we are in the right place at the right time.
One of those dream-places for me is the beach at dawn or dusk. When my brothers and I were kids, my parents took us out to the shore after a thunderstorm and had us stomp really hard on the sand. It would light up, like a galaxy under our feet! They told us some mumbo jumbo about static from lightening interacting with bacteria in the water, but I knew the truth: tiny, magical, sea creatures. Friends with mermaids, probably.
Growing up kinda sucks. I don’t mean the getting taller and older part (the taller part has yet to happen for me, though). I’m fine with having an apartment and my own debit card. It’s the knowing enough to explain the world around me I’m not so found of. It turns out stars are huge bags of gas far away, and if we can see them, they’re already dying. Doesn’t that suck? I liked it better when Timon said they’re fireflies that got stuck up there.
Though I’ve grown to believe in the interesting properties of both lightening and bacteria, I still find myself in dream-places. These can be the middle of the woods on a warm day, or the top of a mountain you’re familiar with. Sometimes it’s a new overlook of a field, or a breeze in a quiet place, or a bridge anywhere, anytime, ever. And in those moments, those perfect spots, magical sea creatures seem real again. Heaven feels a little closer. Pocahontas seems more right about everything.
What are your dream-places? I’d like to hear about them!
And I hope you visit one soon, sweet reader. Good night!