A Message in a Bottle: Flash Fiction for World Environment Day


It was a bright warm day on the beach. The waves were gentle. There was hardly any breeze. As the waves receded, they left behind a bottle covered with seaweed all over. Jamie rushed over. The six-year-old was so excited to visit the beach. He vaguely remembered the last Sunday beach trip. It had been too long ago.

He dropped the sea-shells he had been laboriously collecting the last half an hour and bent down to pick up his newest treasure. He stopped when he heard his father shout ‘Jamie, wait!’ He looked up to see his father come running towards him with his hand raised and palm facing him. He hung his head in resignation! He couldn’t wait to become a grown-up! They had all the power! He was sure his father would lay hands on the bottle first under the pretext of checking it for safety. He will have to change this story when he relayed his adventure to his friends. He only wished his father would not do any rubbing. Everyone knew that Genies granted wishes to the person who freed them. Oh, how Jamie would love a good Genie! 

Peter walked up and slowly (too slow!) picked up the bottle. He carefully removed the seaweed from the bottle. As he noticed the shape and colour, he couldn’t help but wonder…

Could it be?

No…

It wasn’t possible. 

Years back…he remembered he was at the same beach. He had been about a decade older than his son. Peter had spent the whole day on the beach – just him and the waves. It was the day Angela had left the town, the school and him – forever. All the pent-up pain and disappointment was too much to bear. He had torn a piece of paper from one of his notebooks and poured his heart out in a letter. With no one to give it to, Peter had placed it in a bottle he had found on the beach and had thrown it into the ocean. As he saw the waters engulf the bottle, big fat drops of tears had emerged out of his eyes. He had sat there until it had turned dark and his heart had felt lighter.

He had never forgotten Angela. He still remembered every word that he had written in that letter. What are the odds of one finding your own message in a bottle, he wondered? Peter was brought out of his reverie, by a tug on his shirt. His son wanted the bottle. No harm in letting him open it. He couldn’t read that well anyway. Peter smiled and got down on his knees. He handed the now free-of-seaweed bottle to Jamie. With a big grin on his face, the child took the bottle and immediately started rubbing it on the sides. Peter grinned as well. Oh! The innocence of youth! He waited to see what his son would do next. After a minute or two of rigorous rubbing, Jamie gave up and tugged at the cork. With a loud pop, the bottle opened. The little boy steadied himself …

When Jamie didn’t see any colourful vapours emerge, he turned the bottle upside down and tapped at the end. A folded piece of paper fell out. 

It was a message in a bottle! 

Peter immediately picked it up. Jamie swung his leg and kicked the sand in anger. Another discovery that wasn’t to be his! 

Peter opened the perfectly crisp note with shaky hands. He took a deep breath before he read it. It wasn’t his hand-writing. And it only had one line: ‘Bottles don’t belong in the ocean.‘



Messages from the Ocean

There have been several messages that the ocean has been sending us the past few decades:
  • 146 zones in our oceans are dead – i.e. void of any marine life. The excessive chemicals that seep into our oceans deplete the oxygen levels every day. 
  • The rich underwater ecosystems that are our coral reefs are under attack from plastic. 
  • Our garbage and other pollutants are not only poisoning our marine animals, buts also changing their mating habits and even wiping out entire species. 
  • We aren’t spared either. Consumption of seafood contaminated by heavy metals such as lead and mercury adversely affects our health.
Unfortunately, all these signs have gone unnoticed. What are we waiting for? 

Many a jilted lover has thrown a message in a bottle into the ocean in the hope that someone somewhere will read it.

What if one day the ocean put its own message in a bottle and sends it ashore? Will we then pay heed?

Let us not be selfish for once. Let us leave a clean planet for our children. Let us not litter our seas, oceans, rivers and other water bodies. Bottles and plastic don’t belong in our oceans and beaches. 

Our trash kills. Let us be more responsible. Let us listen to the messages the ocean is sending us. Let us act upon them. 



Comments

  1. Lovely story. I have always been fascinated with 'message in the bottle' kind of stories, they are so intriguing.
    Will wait for your next story Ashwini
    Priya

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    1. :) Thanks Priya for your encouragement. You know I will share it with you first. :=)

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  2. A message that completely resonates with my current mindset. It is time we pay heed to the messages that nature is sending us

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    1. :=) Thanks Namrata. Glad you liked it.

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  3. Beautiful story and lovely message! Bottles and other man made trash don't belong in the ocean!!

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    1. Absolutely. Thanks Anshu. :)

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  4. Loved it Ashwini and thank you Anshu for sharing it! Lovely message in a bottle πŸ‘

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    1. Thanks so much Manisha and Anshu. :)

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  5. A brilliant and thought provoking piece Ashwini, with a great twist in the end. Really love the subtle message it portrays. Loved itπŸ‘

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    1. :)Thanks Sashwata...so much. :)

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  6. This was beautifully written; very warm and engaging read! Loved the thought used to convey the message. 😊

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    1. :) Thanks Nishant. Not very good at fiction. Glad you liked the story.

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  7. Oh, I wasn't expecting that ending but it's perfect at getting the message across. Bottles, trash, and chemicals do not belong in the ocean.

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    1. :) Thank you for the visit and your comment. I am not great at storytelling but this one just came to me. Glad you found it impactful.:)

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  8. What a beautiful and thought-provoking end to the tale.

    Cheers
    MeenalSonal from AuraOfThoughts

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    1. Thanks Meenal for your visit and comment. I really wanted to share the message that what we are doing to our oceans is a huge crime. I didn't exactly intend to choose the medium of fiction for relaying the message; it just happened. But I am glad it all worked out the way it did. :)

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  9. A power packed ending ... it is so fitting. You have turned the romantic popular notion of 'message in a bottle' to thought provoking tale. Enjoyed it.

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    1. Hi Seema. :) Thanks. I just hit upon the idea of a twist. I told Varad that I was inspired by his stories . :) Glad the story and the message resonated with you.

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  10. Beautifully penned

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    1. Thanks Sue. :) Welcome to my blog. :)

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  11. Good one, Ashwini. Loved the twist in the end. We have already done the irreversible damage to the planet which is more than ever. I hope the changes in the climate and the terra serves as a warning to each and every one of us.
    Cheers!

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  12. :) Thanks Surbhi for the read and the comment. Twists are fun when they work. Glad this one worked and you liked it. :)
    Our selfish actions are worrisome. Hope we learn to be more empathetic towards other living beings and our planet.

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  13. This is a fantastic story and a captivating way to spread an important message. Very well done.

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    1. Thanks Kanika for the words of encouragement.:)

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