Message in a Bottle
The sandy rock ricocheting off of the rolling tide sounded four times before the stone sank into its aquatic cradle. The current would sometimes tumble the stone back to me if it was light enough. I chucked another one with an upward curve so it skidded across the break of water like a dolphin playfully jumping from wake to wake. I turned back to the satchel I laid on the shore. The glass bottle I stowed with me was already hanging out of the top, as if it was ready to roll into the sea. The aged sheets of literature had been stained by my calloused hand. Two sheets of parchment, coiled together, freckled with ink, lay dormant in their glass tomb. This bottle claimed to hold no brewed beverage, bubbling, brimming with liquored libations, but contained instead a sloshing of botanically fueled words, left unspoken, sealed with a cascade of wax.
I approached the undulating border of sea and land. With a forceful toss I threw the cursed words into the wind, and with a plop the bottle bobbed up, angled towards the blank horizon. I prayed the sea would melt these confessions away, claim them to a shipwreck. I wished for it to be anchored to a reef and become encrusted with marine flora, but if the sea was listening to my pleas, she would steer its course to the lone ship on the seas of San Guine.
The shores of San Guine had glittering sand with perfectly tumbled seaglass. It was almost as colorful as the matchbox hillside dwellings. The bed of stone granules warmed the cold soles of my exhausted feet. This neverending journey, always in motion, took a toll on my body. A dip on the cool cerulean waters was the only remedy for my wear. On the horizon at the edge of the bay nestled one of the ships from the Pelagian Order, large pleated sails glided across the still waters.
The sea was very serene, it was the perfect midsummer’s day. And yet, it felt like the calm before a storm. The sun radiates heat and I know there is no storm in sight, but I just had this feeling in the crux of my clavicle that this was the last time things would be good for a while. I basked in the comforting warmth of the sun that fell upon me and returned to the shore’s brink, to the shallow layers of seawater that the sun graced with her presence. Still cool, but not frigid.
I woke to the sound of cawing seagulls, all echoing one another. Wait. Seagulls? In waters this deep- nowhere near land? I threw off my wool blanket and ran out to the scorching deck. I was greeted by a lush strip of land I didn’t recognize. It was an overgrown island covered in trees, vines, and wildfowers. The thick jungle that lay in front of me was plentiful, yet daunting. The scale of it had me caught in sublime awe, I was at the mercy of nature. This green relic towering over me made me feel as though I couldn’t be told apart from the grains of sand scattered across this vacant beach.
The boat was sitting in the shallow water just grazing the ocean bed below me. A school of silver fish were circling me, as if the boat was wreckage filled with an unknown treasure. I think they would be disappointed with the meager offerings from the non perishable chest.
I ran to the back of the ship to check the rudder. It had come loose and was trailing behind the boat, waving in the water. The stopper for the rudder probably gave out during the storm which blew me here to this evergreen island. There are lots of islands off of San Guine that scatter down to Islodon, but it was hard to know which one; many are uncharted. I tried to realign the rudder, cranking it through the water, it churned out an uneven wake behind me, and scared away the fish.
Maybe I could look at the map to get my bearings after I pull the boat further to shore. I lowered myself down from the side of the boat and waded in the shallow water that rippled up to my hips. I turned to the boat to fetch the docking rope and maybe use it to pull the boat closer into the land. I didn’t want it to just float off while I tried to make a plan. When I neared the back of the boat I reached up to the braided rope and started pulling.
I made sure to wrap it around myself so I could get more leverage, until I saw the keel at the back of the boat, or what should have been the keel. It was gone. In its place were chewed up ends of wood splintering out like the spiked shell of a sea urchin. I dropped the rope and looked upon it in horror.
What could possibly have chewed all the way through the keel?