Message in a Bottle
Words By Eliza Browning, Art By Hailey Renee
When we were young, we wrote a message in a bottle and launched it into the future. You fetched an old Coke can from the loft where you slept and a scrap of paper for us to scribble on. I don’t remember what we wrote, but we must have thought it was important. You signed it with your old name, the one you didn’t keep. Now it feels like a foreign object on my tongue.
We gathered on the bridge to drop it over the cleft of the waterfall. We watched it float downstream together, away from your grandfather’s cabin and my grandmother’s farm. We imagined it catching in a tangle of tree roots alongside the riverbank, or being swept out by the current to Long Island Sound. We envisioned it finding different countries, different shores. For years, I inspected every stray piece of litter on the beach. I never found it. I didn’t know it would be one of the last times I saw you. You changed your school. You changed your name. Our lives spun away from each other like a bottle bobbing adrift on the current. But I know that like our bottle, you’re just around the next bend in the river. If I wanted to reach you, I know how.