Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are cryptic, flash and malign.

The Messenger

I’m walking on the beach, the setting sun a Fiestaware plate of brilliant orange.
When I stumble on a bottle caught in a rocky breaker, protected by rotting seagrass. The bottle is dark green, indicating a former life as a vessel of fine wine, a Bordeaux maybe. It’s new use is that of messenger.
The corked bottle has a note in it.
I squat over the sand, dust debris from the pitted glass, shake the bottle. The parchment inside bounces silently.
I dig out the cork.
And uncurl the crinkled paper and flatten it by rubbing it gently across my thigh.
The note is cryptic in its message, written in a man’s heavy penmanship. Three sets of numbers, two of which I guess are longitude and latitude lines. The third a string of 15 digits in no discernable pattern.
A very personal note to a former lover, an apology, a pledge of undying love.
It ends with:
“God bless the finder of this communiqué.”
A fit of mischief fills my heart. I scan the empty surf, drum my fingers across the glass, break into a grin. What this note needs is an addendum, a twisted modification - the editor's touch.
I take a pencil out of my pocket, sharpen the lead with a penknife, scribble the back with the most horrid of details. Malign the writer’s family, question his manhood, imply his deep love of barnyard animals.
I roll the paper up, re-cork the bottle, return it into the surf with a loopy overhand toss.
And sit in the sand, watching the bottle bob in the water, watch as it casts a sunset shadow across a sea transitioning from turquoise to azure.
The tide’s in, and the bottle languishes. It gains no purchase in a sea current and slowly comes back to the beach.
I watch the surf try to crush the glass with pounding percussion.
A pang of guilt fills my heart. I sigh, retrieve the bottle. Uncork the note.
And with my mobile, punch in the 15 digits.
A woman answers, her voice accented, pleasant, but with a hint of melancholy.

27 comments:

Jeeves said...

This is very good. Esp the ending.

Andy Sewina said...

Cleverly done, kept me gripped to the end. Love the bit about the narrator scribbling a message back!

anthonynorth said...

Full of mystery throughout and an excellent ending.

Crystal Phares said...

You always surprise me with your endings. Another great post!

Life without Clots said...

again the unexpected twist...

bitchyangel said...

i so love the ending... ;)

Amarettogirl said...

GGGOOSHHH -I LOVE your writing!!! I know I've told you this before and I would seriously by a collection of your work! So good and such a beginning - your opening setting is top-notch and so cleverly crafted - the colors...then there was the awesome, believable and so accurate tactile quality to pulling the note out --I'm a Thom G fan.

Amarettogirl said...

I meant BUY - BUY a collection of your work!

Lucy said...

i like it! but why was he so angry with what he saw? am I loopy again?
:)

ThomG said...

Lucy, you're not loopy. I had trouble with that. I didn't want to whack people over the head that he was mad at God, thus making the ending more special, but I fixed it. I think. See what you think.

Hal Johnson said...

Now that was cool, and yep, great ending.

Just someone said...

That was pretty cool - ending especially!

b said...

WOW...a world of "if only" but with a completed ending. Or maybe not!

b

~willow~ said...

Loved it! Already unexpected was for the finder to scribble abusive things on the note and throw the bottle back into the sea; once done, I did expect him to get it back - he did; but I didn't expect the 11 digits to be a phone number (they total differently where I come from). I always enjoy the unexpected. Well done! :)

blisshappens said...

it was SO good, Thom, I always enjoy your posts. I read it after your adjustment for the anger, but was still confused by his reaction.

I loved the imagery also, rubbing it on his thigh to uncurl it, bouncing silently, man's heavy penmanship, languish, percussion, such wonderful words!

I'd make a small change in this, "I roll the paper up, re-cork the bottle, toss it into the surf with a loopy overhand toss." too many tosses? maybe return it to the surf with a loopy overhand toss? Small I know, but you're SO good with the words, I notice when you use one more than once and feel gyped!!!

Loved the ending, LOVED it! thank you! -Meg

ThomG said...

Meg, you are absolutely right. From the original document to the blog, I put in a double toss. Return is so much a better word.

pjd said...

I sort of ignored the 11 digits, wondering at first if they were important and figuring they might be, like Saulniere's codes in the Louvre, but then you used indiscernible and I let them go. Because of that, when he tossed the bottle back to the waves, I concluded that the reader and the original writer were one and the same, that his own bottle had returned to him on this lonely beach with the fiestaware sunset (lovely image, lovely).

Then he dialed the phone number, and I saw you went a whole different direction.

Question: This is not his own bottle, returned to him after a long separation, is it? I don't think that's what you have in mind.

ThomG said...

At first, it was to be his own bottle, hence the reason for the anger. But as I wrote it, it decided to take a different path. Tried to keep the anger, but it was misplaced. Mischief replaced that.
I had to change the number of digits, too. Jeez. What a train wreck. It takes 15 numbers to dial outside the U.S.

Mojo said...

I so wanted the voice on the phone to be God... wanting a word ;o) That being said, really enjoyed the story. You do realise you have now planted a seed in my brain for if I ever find a message in a bottle? Excellent as ever Thom.

pjd said...

train wreck? ha ha ha! Far from it.

pjd said...

at least you used the right three words. :)

Angel said...

Nice work. I thought maybe it was going to float down the beach to a little old lady or something and he'd get embarrassed. :)

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

This is a nice twist on the old "finds message in a bottle" theme. I was horrified that he would scribble an insulting message back, but relieved when he accepted his duty to be a messenger of love and perhaps hope.

Pretty cool!

one more believer said...

excellent story thommyg... especially so that you added your flavor to it... and then this "..It gains no purchase in a sea current and slowly comes back to the beach..." ... and then the girl... thrz always a girl... loved it!!

blisshappens said...

I hope this makes sense without sounding stupid or wimpy. Thom, thank you for allowing me to watch you edit this piece over the last couple days. I have realized that I not only am stretching my comfort zone in sharing my own writing, and accepting comments on it, but stretching too in commenting on other's work, when i do I feel my inner pleaser absolutely cringe that I may hurt someone's feelings, what right do I have to an opinion, all that noise. The last two weeks have been very transformative for me. AND I sure liked the changes you made to this piece!

Lisa Drafall said...

Again, this is great. I missed the "angry at God" and instead focused in on the "mischievous." Then again, it reminded me that as a teenager I would leave random notes on bus stop benches...sometimes about barnyard animals.

I agree with one of the comments, a collected work of super short stories would sell well.

susan said...

So glad he got the bottle back! You write the best endings.