Free Write Friday – Message in a Bottle

The prompt from Kellie Elmore this week was: You are stranded on a remote island with no hope of being rescued. You find only a pen, one sheet of paper and a bottle. You want to let people know what happened to you, who you are and how you wish to be remembered…

I also had in mind an incredibly sad prompt from WeWritePoems: As the Great War drew to a close, a young Englishwoman wrote wearily in her diary, By the end of 1916, every boy I had ever danced with was dead. Your instruction:  respond to that sentence!  More on that in an upcoming post.  (here is my poem response to the prompt)

The Further (and apparently last) Adventures of Me and Jimmy

My name is Robert Jenkins, though only Momma calls me Robert. To most everyone else I am Bobby. I know this letter will not help to save me, because I am not really sure where I am, so I can’t really tell you. I am a sailor in the United States Navy, and last night the destroyer I was serving on went down. There was a huge explosion up at the front of the boat; no idea why, maybe a submarine torpedo. There were rumors of Jap subs being around. Anyway, whatever the reason, we went down fast, I did not see anyone else in the water either. I was lucky to have found something that would float.

I had been towards the back, the ‘stern’, six months in and I still can’t figure out the words the navy uses. I had been topside, where I was not supposed to be. I had not been able to sleep and liked to go up at night and watch the ocean; that saved my life…for a time I guess. I loved the ocean, that was the reason I had joined the Navy as soon as I was old enough. I remember the first time I had seen it; ten years ago in Gulf Shores on our first family vacation. I was amazed at all the water and wanted to go back every chance we got. As far as I knew the whole world was made up Gulf Shores and home. Home is a farm outside of Coffeeville, Alabama. Momma  and Daddy are still there, although Daddy does not work the farm anymore. He went to work for the electric company that year before the first time we went to the beach. Coffeeville lake was my world growing up. I loved the lake, the streams and woods – everything about living in the country. Me and Jimmy explored everywhere growing up; we were inseparable. He went in the Marines, always was more of a fighter, and fearless. I could almost feel sorry for any Japs he faced. I hope he makes it home. If you find this and can spare the time, please find a way to let my folks know I was thinking of them. Jimmy too, if he makes it.

Find Katherine for me too. Katherine Watson. She lives in town, her Dad owns the grocery. We were always together for the six months before I joined up. So much so Jimmy got mad at me for not fishing and hunting with him, but I could not stay away. That hair, long and brown. Those eyes, greenish blue with flecks of brown – amazing. A smile that stopped a room from breathing. She loved to go to the dancehall on Friday nights; she was a great dancer. I was always scared I was going to break her foot, or fall on top of her. But she was always patient with this country clod. When I left she kissed me the first time and said she would not dance again until I came home.

I am running out of paper. If you find my folks tell them I died at my favorite place; sitting on the beach looking at the ocean. Tell Katherine – tell her I loved her. And…tell her to dance again. She was always so beautiful and happy when she danced.



Filed under Creative writing, Flash Fiction, Free Write, Short Story

8 responses to “Free Write Friday – Message in a Bottle

  1. Eliza

    I like how even though there’s the hopelessness of being stranded, it ends on a (kind of) happy note, how he wishes that the girl he loves will keep on dancing. Nice!

  2. As I finished reading this, the news came on the TV about the wreck of a huge cruise ship off the coast of Italy. It really brought home the reality behind your story, to see the pictures and hear about the panic.

  3. This is really good, Mark. Well written and a very well told story. Very visual and believable.
    My entry:

  4. Shawna

    “I was lucky to have found something that would float.” … Excellent metaphor for anything that sustains us in life.

    Do you still live in Coffeeville? Or is this complete fiction?

    “When I left she kissed me the first time and said she would not dance again until I came home.” … Aww, this is really sweet. Women always give up their favorite things to express love for a man. Until they get mad at having given everything up. In this case, I’m sure your untainted memory would be worth anything she stopped doing, for a time.

  5. Mark, you sure know how to touch a heart and make your readers FEEL every word. This seemed so real as if I were reading a real goodbye and it almost brought tears, so close in fact I had to shake my head and tell myself it was fiction. That’s moving stuff! I love when you write for me and I hope Jimmy is rescued as I LOVE reading about him and I want so much for him to live! Maybe you can find a way to save him in next weeks prompt or at least take us back through his life?
    Thanks again for another wonderful chapter in his life! ♥

    P.S. I have MANY Watson’s in my family, so that name jumped out at me right away. 🙂 Thank you!

  6. …I am tweeting this and sharing on the Fan page at Facebook 🙂

    Twitter: @BackyardPonders

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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