One green bottle
by Darren J Beaney
Once the tide had turned and begun the gradual descent toward the
horizon, we glanced across the buttery sand, that shimmied under the
midday glow of the late pre-lunch sun. The waves left treasures and wonders
in their wake, we walked along the shoreline, our vision panning the beach as
if we were new frontier prospectors. Strolling hand in hand, adventurous
lovers searching for fresh riches –
windswept seaweed plucked from Neptune’s garden, mermaid purses, a crab claw
lost in a fight with a crafty rival, shiny silver shells, decayed driftwood hand sculpted
into surreal shapes by the strong hands of the sea’s underworld undercurrents.
We pocket our plunders as the sun hit the highest heights. Rays of brilliant light
bounce all around us, reflecting a collection of rainbow colours. You use your free
hand to shade your blues eyes as your gaze is caught by a continuous glint of green.
You unravel your fine fingers from mine, dropping my grasp and you point. I catch sight
of the slight speckle, as it spangles like an emerald sequin.
We do our usual thing of sharing the same unspoken thoughts and move forward
in perfect unison across the shore. As we approach the sparkle our discovery
is announced. Just one green bottle! I turn my attention away, not caring for
the castaway carafe, but you insist on a closer inspection. Your head tilts
toward the silt, you bend at the hip and lower yourself by the knees, you then reach
for the bottle. At first you flinch from the heat, the glass warmed by the energy of
the sun. As you lift the bottle it rattles in your hand, the marble stopper, trapped
in the neck, flustered by the disturbance. You buff the bottle on the hem of your
bright floral print, short summer skirt. Rubbing to remove the residual layer
of sand that lingers? Or rubbing to awaken and reveal a possible resident?
Alas there is nothing, no message, no hermit, no genie, just the sparkling cat’s
eye bung. You hand the half-flagon to me, the glass is thick, bottom heavy. I hold
it aloft, to the light and as the wind blows over the mottled neck and chipped lips,
it pours out a low peaceful hum. The bottle has been rinsed by old wash and wave. Faded, now
fifty shades lighter than the sea. The sides of the bottle are speckled with salt erosion,
worn smooth through the years of rolling in the swirl of time and high tides. The bottle still
holds the scent of sodium, shaken from the Seven Seas. We imagine the smell
of vintage dark spiced rum. We hear the hum of the wind on the mouth of the bottle
and the sound that carries becomes a chorus of shanties, sung by drunken sailors.
We pass the bottle between us, and picture the rough calloused hand of an ancient
first mate, raising the vessel in salute to his crew and his ship.
The shells we found, we leave behind on the sand, for someone else to find tomorrow.
Today, the green bottle is our one prize!
Darren J Beaney is undertaking a part time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton. He enjoys music, predominantly punk rock, but a lot of other sounds as well. He likes a good lyric and a rockin' raucous gig! He cuts his own hair, his favourite author is George Orwell and he loves Marmite. He also happens to live near the coast in sunny West Sussex with his lovely family, their rescue cats, Annie and Eddie, and Hamirez the hamster.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'The Easel on the Beach'
'Fusty Relics and Memories'