Message in a Bottle

The romantic in her was hoping she had just stumbled upon a Nicholas Sparks novel come to life. Then again, don’t most of his books end up with one tragedy or another? Doesn’t someone always wind up dead? Does that just make Nicholas Sparks the Stephen King of the love story genre?

Diane shook her head. She was too cynical for her own good. And that romantic side of her? That side was quickly pushed aside by her already surfacing sarcastic thoughts.

Still, she was curious. Diane reached down and picked up the dark green glass bottle.

This wasn’t how she expected to spend her final day of vacation. In fact, she had debated whether or not to even allow this to be her final day of vacation. She really did not think she was ready to return home. To the real world.

The real world was one where she had a job that she hated. The real world was one where the ink had barely had time to dry on her divorce papers. The real world was one where her mother could not help but say, “I told you so,” every time the subject of Diane’s ex-husband came up. Because the real world is where her ex-husband had been cheating on her, with multiple women, for almost the entire year that they were married.

Maybe there’s a message in this bottle that will let me postpone the real world for a while longer, she thought.

But her life wasn’t a Nicholas Sparks novel. It wasn’t a Stephen King novel. No, Diane realized, even at the end of a vacation at the beach, it was still the real world.

Diane uncorked the bottle and let the rolled up paper inside slide out and into her waiting hand. Tucking the bottle under her arm, she unrolled the paper and let out a small laugh.

To whom it may concern…

I must confess, I am throwing this bottle into the ocean. And that makes me a litter bug. Please, dispose of it properly. Recycle, if you can. I thank you. And the earth thanks you.

It wasn’t signed.

Diane turned to walk back toward her beachfront hotel. She tossed the bottle into a waste basket marked RECYCLE, then made up her mind to pack her bags and check out. It was time to head back to the real world.

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