The bottle came to me, bobbing up and down on the waves. It was greenish, tiny and mysterious.
It was as big as a thick pen cover. It looked like those bottles you see in movies of pirates, which carry a map to a hidden treasure chest. But this was different. It looked a little different — mysterious. As it moved closer to me, I had a sudden desire to pick it up. Hesitantly, I reached out to it. My hand touched the neck of the bottle. I regretted it the moment I gripped the tiny thing.
What was I thinking?
It was a Sunday afternoon, during school holidays. The sky was bright, the sun was shining and the weather fit my mood perfectly. My family and I had gone to the beach with my Aunt Elizabeth. My brother, Nicholas, needed to go to the toilet. My sister, Nimeesha, volunteered to go with him, and my mother took them. I was left alone with the other children who were running and playing. I waded into the sea to play among the waves. As I did so, a blinding flash lit up the sky, and that was when I saw the bottle making its way towards me.
As soon as I got hold of it, I took a closer look. There was a cork stuck in it, and there were marks engraved on the glass. Inside was a rotting piece of paper. The cork came out with a “POP!” and shook the paper out. With butterflies in my stomach, I unrolled the paper and read it. It read, ‘Meet me here’. Then, another paper rolled out. It was a map of the meeting place. It had a big cross on the house where we were staying. I did the natural thing: I dropped everything and ran to my house.
It was a tiring run. I took the shortcut, which was not really a shortcut for me. The path was full of thistles, brambles, sharp branches, thorns and dead leaves. I found I would have taken the same amount of time to reach my house if I had used the normal path. All I gained were scratches and bruises. But all that pain was forgotten when I found my family smiling at me. Then, Nicholas laughed. Anger was boiling up inside me. I felt as if I could just punch him. ‘Control, Nigel, control’, I told myself. Nicholas said, ‘I made the bottle. I wrote the note. I put the extra thistles, brambles, branches and thorns on the shortcut route, but that didn’t slow you down. Oh, how gullible you are!’ My family roared with laughter. I was fuming!
I forgot about it over the next few days. Everything went back to normal. I started talking to my family again, even though I was still the laughing stock of the family.
By Nigel Chan Zhe How 12, Kuala Lumpur