Message In Bottle
Not every bottle carries a message. Some do though, little glass bottles tossed into billowing oceans of a lifetime. I have such a bottle, a bottle which carried a message, a message for me. Soon it will be my turn, as I stand at the edge of eternity, to return the little bottle to the hands which long ago prayed a prayer and tossed it into the deep and dark unknown. The message inside is mine now, one written with my tears, a lifetime of sorrow, a lifetime of joy, a lifetime of forgiveness.
She was only nine when she hid in the darkness of her bedroom, the one she shared with her brother and her sister. She was my oldest, and always knew how to disappear, how to take the little ones with her, and how to hide.
In my drunken rage, I never let that go unnoticed, her disappearing. More than once, I promised she would be next for standing boldly between me and her mother, and begging me to stop with my raging.
By then, her mother would be helpless, a crumpled mess on the slick linoleum of the kitchen floor. Bad memories, terrible memories, for my daughter to endure, the helpless pleas of her mother begging her to, “Just go,” as I continued in my drunken rage.
How many times, I wonder, did my little girl hide and wait for my heavy handed wrath to spill from my liquored up soul?
By the time I finished with the tirade I unleashed on their mother, there was nothing left.
A hate filled glare and slobbering threats were all I could manage through the shadows from which the children watched. Then after that I would hurry, stomping out the door, for more of the wicked, of which my soul could never get enough.
I never gave any thought to the hurt I caused my wife and three little ones, especially my daughter, as she swam through the wake of my fury to nurse her mother’s pain, and promise the babies I still loved them and that it was the whiskey that was making me mean.
Echoes of what I told my brother and sister, when my father would finally get tired and leave us alone; I was the oldest too.
“What is it that you’re doing?” I howled one particular Friday night. These times were always on Friday nights, after I got paid and had seen to the bills. That was when I would climb inside of a bottle.
I remember my daughter’s face, the bewildered terror in her eyes. It was before I peeled the seal and opened the bottle I held in my hand. It was early, and there was sunshine spilling through her bedroom window.
“Nothing,” she managed.
“Nothing is something,” I screamed before I spun her around. It was then that I saw she held one of my bottles in her hand. It was just the way I held my daddy’s bottles when he finished them; only the bottle my little girl held, was far from empty. It was filled with tears, tears she had collected for a long, long time. I could see them as they crept across her cheek, how they made a puddle in her dimples as he smiled a frightened smile.
Now, it’s my tears that fill that old bottle; the one she handed me all those years ago as she begged me with her eyes not to be mad, not to hit her. It is my tears that I will soon give back to her, and it will be my eyes that beg for mercy.
I remember how I snatched that bottle from her and squeezed it so tight; I thought it might just break in my trembling hands.
Not every bottle carries a message, a message that can help save the soul of someone lost out here on the billowing waves of life. Some do though. I have one.
This is a work of fiction for those who hide and those who are hidden from, with a prayer that we all read the messages in our bottles. Edward Reed 2020