Monday, October 15, 2007

Message In A Bottle

March 31, 1980

“Eavesdropping is bad, Anna. Don’t ever eavesdrop on people, baby.” My mama advised for the thousandth time. I was eleven and enjoyed the whole process. So for the thousandth time I nodded my head and agreed. “I will do it secretly.” I thought to myself and then she won’t know.

Papa was late getting in from work that evening. I wondered why. He is always home on time to eat dinner with us, read me a story and tuck me into bed. “He must’ve gotten busy at work, love, you go to sleep, he will come and kiss you goodnight when he gets in” mama said when I enquired about papa.

I heard him get in close to midnight, I threw back the covers, got out of bed, widened the half-open door and tiptoed into the corridor, I could hear Papa talking to Mama “…pack the bags, honey, we can move out soon…” My heart sank; there was a buzz in my head, all I could think was “We are moving yet again” Then I caught some more of the conversation “Monday at the earliest… Anna in bed? Let me give her a goodnight kiss…” my feet carried me back in a hurry, dived into bed and pulled the covers, a few seconds before papa came in, kissed me and whispered “Goodnight, sleep tight, sweet dreams, my Anna” and left the room.

I didn’t sleep a wink. “We can move out soon” kept ringing in my head. New school to adjust to, new home, new neighborhood and new faces all over again. I didn’t want to be uprooted and planted elsewhere. I had changed five schools already, every time Papa has had a work transfer we’ve had to move. There was no other choice. I hated it every single time.

It was nearing eighteen months since we moved to this location. Up until six months ago, I had my guards up for I was sure we would be moving again. I was just beginning to like this little town with its small alleys and narrow roads. I could run from one house to the next without Mama scolding me. I finally felt warm and welcome. Sarah and Betty had accepted me. I was one of the “trios” at last and now they will get to do all the adventurous stuff without me. They will soon forget me. I would have to make new friends, explore new circles all over again. The very thought brought tears to my eyes and filled me with dread. I shouldn’t have eavesdropped; I broke my promise to mama and see where that got me…thus on and off ran the thoughts through my mind. Sometime in the early hours, I must’ve fallen asleep. Because the next thing I remember is Mama shouting “Wake up and clean yourself before breakfast”.

April 1, 1980

Papa was at the kitchen table reading a newspaper. Mama was cleaning the stove. “Good morning” they chimed as I entered the kitchen. The table was filled with breakfast goodies that Mama makes only during weekends. Somehow my appetite hit rock bottom from last night’s events. “When are they going to tell me?” I couldn’t help wonder. “Anna, could you pick up the mail before you sit down honey? I forgot to get it last evening” Mama said.
“Sure” I couldn’t wait to step out for a breather anyway. “I would have to ask them myself, I couldn’t bear this suspense…of course I will have to admit to eavesdropping… ”
Somehow the weather seemed more gorgeous that morning. I noticed the birds chirping, the soft grass below my feet as I ran to the mailbox at the end of the garden and the blue painted roofs of the houses that lined our street. I will miss this place so much. I will miss Sarah and Betty. “I will have to tell them soon, what will they say? Will they write to me? They wont be able to send me messages in bottles would’ve to be plain snail mail and won’t be as much fun. With time they will forget me”

Message in a Bottle

Ever since I first met Sarah and Betty, I was the outsider. There was an unbreakable bond between them that I could never penetrate. It was not lack of trying, believe me, I exhausted all the tricks that I had up my sleeve. They were one and there was no room for another. They have known each other forever, since they were toddlers. I was a newcomer, who might be here today and gone tomorrow. They knew it and I knew it even more. So I was miserable for the first three months after our arrival. And then it was papa who put the idea into my head. “Lure them, baby. Lure them with new games”

“But I don’t have any new games, Papa”

“Share what you have. How about those colorful bottles that you have…why don’t you share them with your friends?”

“But they’re mine Papa. Mama gave them to me on my birthdays…I don’t want to share”

“You do want their friendship, don’t you? Then you will have to share your possessions too. Make a game out of it. You’ve three bottles don’t you? Give one each to Sarah and Betty. You can hold onto one yourself. Every time you girls want to share something with each other “Write a message, drop it in the bottle and pass it on to Mr. Tom, the mail man to drop into the respective person’s mailbox… I am sure he would be more than happy to comply. Make a rule; you must’ve only one bottle in your possession all the time. The minute you have two or more, it’s time to send out a message again. Try it, love, you have nothing to loose"

Papa was right, before we knew it Sarah, Betty and I were exchanging messages everyday. “Guess the color of my dress?” “Did you see the one legged man riding the bike?” “Miss Raisin was mean to me today” so on and so forth. Papa’s plan worked like a charm and I was part of the circle at last.


A circle that’s bound to break as soon as they hear my news, I am sure. I wish I didn’t have to tell them yet, but I remember Papa mentioning something about “Monday”…so I will have to mention something sooner.

“Are you just going to stand there or come back in, Anna?” called Mama.

“I am coming”

I open the mailbox to collect the mail and to my delight there’s a green bottle in the mail. “I have a message” my heart soared and then sank at the same time. I have two bottles now, that means I have to send a message out and I will have to mention my dreadful news… I put down the other mail and opened the bottle to see whom the message was from… most likely Sarah.I think she said she had the green one the last time we spoke.

The message read

“April fool, we are not leaving this town, squirt, just moving next-door to your friend Sarah. Didn’t Mama tell you not to eavesdrop? Now get back in here and eat your breakfast!
Love Papa xox "
A response to the prompt from Writer's Island


Rambler said...

hey this was wonderful, thanks for sharing.

Robin said...

I LOVE this! My heart was broken for that poor little girl, and literally soared with her good news. Great story ul!

UL said...

Rambler- thank you.
Robin - I couldnt let the poor girl suffer, I know what it's like.

gautami tripathy said...

The ending is perfect...

Jo said...

Well that's quite a twist. Well done, Ul.

Jo said...

Well you got me there! Nice write, Ul.

Remiman said...

That was so awesomely cool! Very well done.
Btw, do you still eaves drop? ;_


paris parfait said...

Quite an unexpected twist at the conclusion - I was expecting a twist, but not that they'd be staying in the same town. Nice work.

Marja said...

What a lovely story. A lesson well learned and an improvement for all. Great

UL said...

Thanks folks for all your comments.

And Remiman- "What do you think?" :)

paisley said...

this was great.. i was on edge wondering the whole time,,, so relived and happy to see her learn a lesson in such a memorable way....

Dan said...

Nice story, I love a good story that teaches a lesson!!

Scott Clawson said...

Thanks for the wonderful story! I felt like I was the one eavesdropping in on Anna! Very delightful, thank you for sharing it! Scott

tumblewords said...

What fun! The twist took me totally off guard. Love it!

Gilson said...

Great story! You really kept suspense in there. Nice read!

...deb said...

Sweet and suprising, it is a good story.

Christine said...

This is a truly sweet story. I love the idea Papa had of sending messages with the bottles, and how he played her a trick, but with a happy ending.

A wonderful story.

Matthew said...

I love twists that turn out sweet! The images interspersed between the words was a nice touch. An original take on the prompt, I enjoyed.

keith hillman said...

Well, I didn't see that ending coming. What a charming story. I loved it ( nice site too!)

Herb Urban said...

Great story! That will certainly teach her a lesson.

Redness said...

Wow fantastic story, mixed emotions, lessons to learn - Thank YOU!